Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Bank Card Conundrum

Anthony and I visited his mother a few days ago because Anthony tried to go online to pay some of Doris' household bills, and he was denied access to the account. As he also needed to pay the taxes on her house, the situation was quite untenable.

This happens every few weeks because Doris loses or misplaces her bank card, and orders a new one, with a different number on it, of course. Then Anthony can't sign in. If he tries calling her to discuss, all he gets is gobblediegook.

 His cousin was there when we arrived, but Doris was not.

This is the cousin who has of late come to live with Doris and Anthony's brother John, the one who "borrowed" $1200 from her a few weeks ago. The atmosphere in the house creeps me out, what with these two overgrown leeches hanging about with the elder Doris, sucking away like crazy at her hospitality.

Cousin Leech proceeded to launch into his big plans: he has bids out everywhere. Numbers are tossed around, big numbers, the cash he's going to haul in. As soon as he ever works, of course.

Reminds me of the time Anthony's brother announced that he "could make $100,000 a year by moving to Alberta."

Doris actually spun on him and said "Why don't you then?" It's the only time I've ever heard her challenge John on his dysfunction.

Of course, he had a quick, and I imagine well-practised, comeback for her: "I don't want to. But I could earn that, if I wanted to."

It's like talking to a bragging kid who makes no logical sense, and knows it, but still attempts to maintain a show of independence.

Anyway, I could see Leech's Mustang car parked right outside Doris' home as he was bullshitting us. That's the car his mommy and daddy had to get out of hock for him recently. The fact that his parents bailed out his car, and are now encouraging him to live with Doris, pretty much tells you everything you need to know about why Cousin Leech is the way he is.

REMINDER: Both Leech and John are well into their 50s.

The stench of enabling and codependency is so thick, you can practically cut it with a knife.

Doris finally returned from her trip to the grocery store, which was unsuccessful because it's Victoria Day and the stores were closed.

She: "The store was closed!"
Leech: "I told you it would be closed."

Silence.

Anthony: "Show me your bank card mom. Did you get a new one again, recently?"
Doris: (pulling out bank card) "No. But I have two. Why would I have two?"
Anthony: "One is old. It was cancelled. The other must be the latest one you got. Every time you change cards, I need the new number so I can pay your bills." (This said with casual, but meaningful glance toward Leech, whom Anthony wants to know that the account is watched.)

Doris: "What do you mean? I pay my own bills. You shouldn't pay them twice!"

Anthony doesn't argue with her. He's been paying her bills literally for several years now. Still, she insists she does it. So be it.

Anthony: "Don't worry. I see what goes out of the account (another icy glance at Leech). Nothing's been paid twice. I can tell."

She seems to accept that statement, and after a few minutes of idle chat, we leave.

But as Anthony and I discuss later, what to do, what to do?

It has become unmanageable to keep paying Doris' bills this way. She "loses" her card with frightening regularity, and the hassle Anthony has to go through to keep up with it all is unworkable at this point.

But if Anthony shuts down her account, it will only increase his workload. He'd have to ensure she had some money, groceries, etc. on at least a weekly basis. We talk about Meals on Wheels, but that's another concept that evokes a hostile reaction in Doris.

As it stands now, she still comes and goes as she pleases, taking whatever amounts she likes at the times she likes, and spending it all either on food, or on the demands of her son and her nephew. It's not great, but what alternative would make it easier and better for all concerned?

The only answer Anthony and I can arrive at is the one she won't accept: a retirement residence.

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