On this day in 2013, my dear Dad breathed his last — and left a wake of pure chaos. Apparently, he was the one policing factor that kept family members behaving at least somewhat like human beings.
Unfortunately, his kids have not opted to follow his example of kindness, gentle humor and humanity. He was a great man in many ways. He devoted thought and energy into making the world a better place. He was a Merchant Marine. He was a town sheriff. He served many years on the school board, and he founded a nonprofit business that gave jobs to people with disabilities.
He was a wonderful dad. He worked at the quarry and ran his own well drilling business on the side. But he still found time to have dinner with us and play with us and take us swimming and talk about life. When Clifford came along, he welcomed him and built him a corral.
He had a self-effacing sense of humor. He wanted to live life by a strict set of ethics and he tried to pass these standards on to his offspring.
I repeat: He TRIED.
I wonder about the marked failure of a parent when his kids turn out to be creeps. I have long believed, though, that there comes a point when people make a choice. They follow the example, or they don’t.
I don’t hold this against Dad. I hold these siblings responsible for their behavior. All of it. Dad tried to do the right thing, and any attempt to smear his name now, or say that he didn’t stand up to his agreements, or to try to snow his memory by calling him less than he was, is pure hogwash.
When Amanda was born, Dad welcomed her, the living example of how love can make a person flourish, no matter what their situation is. I will never forget the hours he spent rocking her in that chair, helping her build strength in her legs and neck. I will always remember the way he would speak out loud, reading my thoughts accurately in my defense, when I could say nothing.
He had my back.
Shame on those who have failed him. You fail Amanda and me, but most of all you fail yourselves.
Amanda has Down syndrome and is currently being held by her guardian, a sibling who is not allowing us to have contact. On March 27 it has been 8 months since I have spoken with my sister. I am doing a portrait of her every day until I hear from Amanda.
“I’m the guardian and you’re not.” That’s the reason her guardian gave when he refused Amanda’s request to visit me in summer 2016.
A few warning signals of guardianship abuse:
1. The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.
2. The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.
3. When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.
4. You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.
5. The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.
6. Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.
7. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.
8. You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.
9. You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.
10. The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.
11. Items are missing from your loved one’s home.
12. Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.
The days of guardians running the show are coming to an end. There is help available. Click the link below: