Sunday, 9 October 2011

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action Please..... Part 3

Well... It's not exactly Jackanory but shall we crack on and finish this then?

Quick recap ~ I'm mad and the Police have knocked on my door..

It may sound silly, but I have never been in trouble with the Police in my life, and so when this Police women told me why she was there I nearly collapsed. I was required to be interviewed, under caution, with regard to allegations that had been made against me. The allegations were Theft and Fraud, and there were no more details forthcoming at that time. If I refused I would be arrested and my house would be searched.

I had nearly 2 weeks to wait until the date agreed. I cried every day and failed every night to sleep for more than 2 hours, every time I closed my eyes the fears came crashing down on me and forced my eyes open..I used to lie on the sofa ~ I couldn't go to bed, I'd bought that bed with my husband and to lie in it alone was too painful ~ and go over every scenario in mind, over and over. 

The day arrived and I went to the Police Station ~ only to discover they'd given me the wrong date and I had another week to wait. Somehow I got through the following week and went for my appointment. I was interviewed under caution ~ the tape machines really do make that high pitched whine when they are switched on you know! 

I told them what I had done ~ Why would I not? I explained that I had only used the money to support my children and my intention had always been to pay the money back, somehow. I also explained that the kids and I were living on amounts that kept us well below the national poverty line and there were days when I could not afford to feed them or keep them warm. The Police were very kind to me, I like to think that they realised I am not a habitual criminal, and my actions were a direct result of desperation and my illness. 

They explained that the allegations had been made by my brother, he had also accused me of selling my Father's effects ~ hilarious for anyone who has seen my house, packed to the rafters with my Dad's clothes and his boxes of photographs; I can't throw away his clothes even now.. I have them hanging in my room so I keep him nearby.

I provided proof that I had touched none of his capital ~ the police had informed the DWP and they had said they felt no need to prosecute, I am told they will contact me at some point to organise some kind of repayment plan. 

And so, all things being equal, I wont be charged with anything. If I am, I will stand up and be counted ~ I will take whatever punishment is handed out, after all I did wrong and I believe passionately in justice. I just hope that my Siblings enjoy their inheritance and feel their actions were justified.

Whatever happens I have already had the worst punishment I could have had. I have to live with the knowledge that I did wrong by my Dad, he trusted me and I let him down ~ that is a terrible punishment and it will stay with me all my life.

So that's my nasty little secret.. I know I have let so many people down; but I have also paid a very heavy price. All my jewellery is gone.. pawned months ago and I can't afford to get it back, I lost my sanity and my self respect and I damn nearly lost my life as well. But somehow, through all of this, my kids stayed safe and now they are going to have their proper Mum back again.

So judge me if you will, I may well do the same ~ but just remember that we do what we do for our families, and I will never apologise for loving my kids so much I would do anything to protect them.

And here endeth this particular life lesson.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action Please..... Part 2

So where were we kiddies?? Oh yes, I was going mad.. So here comes part 2, the nasty bits. Some of you may read this and judge me ~ all I ask is that you wait until the end to judge me.

I Don't really remember my Dad's funeral.. I'd arranged it from within a haze of pain and all I can really remember is vowing not to cry in front of my kids, they didn't need me falling apart in front of them, I had to be strong for them. Trouble was, who was there to be strong for me?

I remember delivering Dad's Eulogy ~ I stood up and my throat closed, but I did it. I had remembered my promise to Dad and so everybody was treated to the glory that is Bunny Berrigan's "Can't Get Started", and I vaguely recall various people pressing my hands and uttering words that washed over me like the sunlight. My surviving Brother and Sister were there, but I was the focus as my Dad had lived with me and everyone knew I had been his carer. My husband had appeared out of the woodwork a couple of days before the funeral and I wanted him there to look after me, a mistake with hindsight. But I got through the day and didn't let my kids down ~ or my Dad I hope.

2 days after the funeral I got the first phone call from my siblings ~ what about Dad's will? As I was Dad's Executor it was presumed that I would know who got what, and how much, oh and when? Honestly, it turned my stomach, I hadn't slept for over a week and suddenly the vultures were swooping ~ I felt dirty and soiled by the blatant avarice, what about my beloved Daddy being dead? Isn't there a saying about waiting until the body is cold?

I saw my Solicitor and he explained that it would be a lot cheaper if I was to sort everything out and apply for Probate myself ~ ironically I stood to gain next to nothing from  the Estate, my siblings and all the Grandchildren were the benficiaries. But having spent so long looking after my Dad, it seemed natural that I would "do the right thing" and take on this task myself.

The phone calls increased to every few days ~ how much and how soon would the funds be handed out? I took to avoiding the calls as it felt as though my brain would explode ~ if I talked about this then it was as good as admitting that my Daddy was gone forever. However, I started putting all the paperwork together as I was supposed to, good daughter that I was. My husband had suggested we take the kids away for a break and I allowed him to pay for a week's holiday in the Canary Isles for me, him and our combined children. My daughter posted a comment of FaceBook saying how excited she was and within a couple of hours I got an offensive text from one of my siblings saying how nice I could afford a holiday. I replied and explained I couldn't afford to get the bus to the Travel Agents, my husband was paying.

I don't really remember the holiday ~ other than it not being a huge success. Too much had happened and his kids had started making my life tricky ~ seems they weren't prepared to share their Dad after all. I suppose the marriage limped on for a few more weeks after we got back, but fairly soon I got royally dumped ~ by email..

Underlying all of this was an ever increasing money crisis. Having never lived in the benefits system, I had no idea of what I was entitled to or how to go about claiming it, so the kids and I lived on Child Tax Credits and Child Benefit ~ which isn't an awful lot, approximately £600 per month to pay for EVERYTHING, including the hideously expensive pre-paid gas and electricity meters that this house has. Imagine having so little money that you had to choose not to eat for 2 days so that you could put some money on the electricity key and feed your kids? Sounds melodramatic doesn't it.. to me it was just every day.

One day I went to the bank and drew some money out of Dad's account ~ as I had not informed the DWP that Dad was dead they were still paying in his Civil Service Pension. The sheer relief of being able to go and buy food for the kids and put a decent amount on the gas and electric can't be described. I was horrified at what I had done, and swore blind to put the money straight back, well as soon as I could anyway. But I didn't and as I slid further into the madness of my breakdown I took to withdrawing bits here and there to pay for, well, living. Each time I swore I would repay it with the money that was due to me when I had finalised the Estate. Can you see where this went wrong? How could I finalise the estate when I had withdrawn funds after his death? To be clear, I never touched a penny of his money.. it was his pension.. for some reason it matters to me that I make this clear.

This continued for a few months until I realised exactly what I was doing. I went to see my Solicitor and confessed everything. He very sensibly called me for everything and told me to get it sorted straight away ~ he did point out though that my career as a Master Criminal was never going to take off as using a dead man's bank card isn't terribly clever. So I started the process of sorting everything out and began to think that somehow I could make this better.

And then I had a visit from the Police.....

To be continued..

Sunday, 2 October 2011

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action Please..... Part 1

The good news is that I am getting a lot better ~ things are slowly improving and I am no longer living in fear of imminent eviction and I can look forward to not having to make the choice between the kids eating and me eating ~ and all too common occurrence over the past couple of years. The bad news is that I have the need to unburden my last, nasty secret ~ so let's do it!

By the time I moved over here a couple of years ago, I had had to make the difficult decision that my Dad needed to be in a Nursing Home ~ his health issues included Parkinsons Disease, Skin Cancer, Prostate Cancer and Dementia as well as having lost his mobility and, quite frankly, I could no longer look after him.. I'd nursed him on my own as well as raising 3 kids and trying to juggle the enforced sale of my beloved home ~ it had nearly killed me and I had lost half by body weight and any ability to sleep. 

When I moved over here Dad was still in a Nursing Home near Southport so I was still driving the 90 mile round trip about 3 times a week. My partner wasn't terribly keen on anything to do with illness or old age so I tended to do this on my own during the week, which was fine. 2 months after I moved I had a call to say that Dad had been taken to hospital with complete Renal failure and could I get there, in a hurry? I arrived to find my Dad hooked up to loads of machines and unconscious. The Doctor carted me off into another room to ask me whether I wanted him resuscitated or simply made comfortable. I already knew the answer but to say "please put a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Marker on him" nearly killed me. I had called my brother to tell him to come up and he did for a few days.

I spent the next 2 months driving 90 miles a day to sit with my Dad.. the stubborn old bugger had recovered his kidney function and slowly recovered to a certain degree. The only days I didn't drive over there were the days over Christmas and my Wedding Day, mainly because there were several feet of snow and I was worried I wouldn't make it back.
I arranged for him to be moved to a home nearer me so I could spend more time with him and he was moved over in the January. I remember seeing this tiny, wizened  figure being carried out of the ambulance and into the Nursing Home ~ that couldn't be my Dad, my Dad wasn't the biggest of men, but this tiny wraith-like figure was just too small and too helpless. And then he saw me and smiled, and life was OK again, I had my Daddy close to me, where I could be with him. I used to go there and feed him and hold his hand and tell him the same bits of news over and over again ~ Dementia's a bugger like that. Some days he thought I was my Mum and that was quite tough, I didn't have the heart to tell him Mum had died many years before. He also used to ask after my beloved eldest brother, how could I remind him that his golden son was also dead? So I used to lie and say they'd be in soon to see him ~ was that wrong? I thought it was kinder, as the only time I had been truthful he had cried in my arms for hours.

Soon after, and for reasons that have no place here, my eldest daughter decided she wanted to go to South Africa to live with her father. So I flew her out to Capetown and flew back.. 13,000 miles in 4 days. On my return I discovered that the house I was renting was to be sold at action within the month, leaving me and the kids with nowhere to live. For a lot of reasons my family and I had never moved in with my new husband and his family so I suddenly had to find somewhere to move with little or no local knowledge and very strapped finances. I made the decision not to tell my Dad about any of this, he was too ill and his ability to assimilate this sort of information was so compromised it wouldn't be fair on him. 

So I found a house and we moved, it's not easy doing that sort of thing when you are as disorganised as me, and it was a nightmare of boxes and swearing, but it got done.. I had deliberately not been to see my Dad for a couple of weeks as I did not want any of this to touch him and worry him, and then I had a phone call from the Nursing Home.

I drove there and found my Dad in bed - the staff were brilliant, they understood my position and, in my absence, had made extra efforts to treat my Dad ever more kindly than they usually did. My dad was barely conscious and, in the 2 weeks I hadn't seen him, had withered away to nothing. I turned around immediately and hustled the kids out of the door.. they could not and would not see their Granddad in this state. 

The next week was the stuff of nightmares ~ spending all day with my Dad and trying to arrange childcare for my kids for the evenings so I could go back to the Nursing Home. The Matron had been very honest, Dad had very little time left, it could be a week, it could be day, it could be a few hours, and I didn't want him to make that journey alone ~ he would be scared and it was my job to look after him right up to the end.

My husband had told me that I should just walk away and wait for the phone call, after all I was a mother and I should focus on my kids. This was not even an option and so the relationship with him fell instantly into nothing, with hindsight, he was not capable of dealing with my pain and my emotions and so chose to withdraw from the entire situation.

I spent as much time as I could with Dad, dropping the kids to school and going to the Nursing Home, leaving to collect the kids, feed them, offload them somewhere and drive back ~ I even spent some nights sleeping on the bed next to my Dad.

It took a week.. he died in my arms on the evening of Monday 19th July last year, and the pain cannot be described. I was truly alone ~ my Mum, Brother and now Dad had gone and left me, and I had no one to turn to. My kids were devastated, they had grown up with their Granddad in the same house and to lose him was unbearable, I had to look after them and help them.. but who would help me?

And then I went mad.....

To Be Continued.....