I figured since I started season 6 with some personal stories of what I had been going on in my life I should end this season with an update on how things have been going personally. I wanna thank everyone who reached out with support and love for the things our family has endured.
Hey it’s me!
I figured since I started season 6 with some personal stories of what I had been going on in my life I should end this season with an update on how things have been going personally.
I wanna thank everyone who reached out with support and love for the things our family has endured
When we left off, my mother Veronica was in a 96 hour hold at a mental facility which luckily went through a weekend so it was actually more than 96 hours in total.
She was released on a Monday because they couldn’t hold her any longer.
The determined my mom was not homicidal and she was not suicidal - and in their words, "it’s not not illegal to be demented"
After all she is still an adult and she was responsible for herself and her actions, regardless of everything that led up to her institutionalization
Astonishingly, the staff were ready to put her in a cab in which she could have requested to go anywhere.
Thankfully my aunt Bonnie, Veronica’s younger sister who lives in Missouri, picked her up then took her to the house she lost in foreclosure at her request.
there was nothing Bonnie could do so she dropped Mom off then watched her from nearby.
The guy who bought the house at auction, Kevin, did too.
He was part of our team monitoring Mom to know when she was at the house because his team was working there, and we needed to know where she was.
We coordinated for Kevin to call the police because in essence, Mom was trespassing at his home
The police picked her up again, then dropped her at the Hampton inn on nearby Belton.
I called to introduce myself to the staff and share Veronica’s story — The staff had unwittingly just become a part of my team
It was weird to have mom out on the streets, independent, but not at her house.
The only thing I was certain about was she was definitely going to try to go back to that house...
… and she did.
The Next morning she went down the front desk of the hotel and bummed a ride from a hotel front desk staff person who was getting off from his night shift.
My mother, the super risk averse safety conscious woman I had always known had just bummed a ride from a total stranger.
When she got to the house, apparently she couldn’t get in the front door so she somehow opened the garage door and went in the house through that entry door.
I’m sure you can imagine Kevin pure shock when he showed up to the house to find Veronica inside like some paranoid schizophrenic magician.
She Spoke harshly to Kevin, pushed him, said she called the mortgage company and they said HE could not pay the mortgage — of course she made no such call
The Next morning my mother tried to walk to the house from the Hampton inn...
That’s a 5 mile walk and keep in mind she’s 74
with a diagnosed blood clot in her leg...
… and it was bitter winter cold outside in February.
The next morning she took a cab to the house.
Later in the week she eventually rented a car and all I could do was hope for the best.
One evening the staff at the front desk of the Hampton Inn called me because she was still out into the evening, which was uncharacteristic for her routine.
Usually she'd get up in the morning and go downstairs for breakfast, go back upstairs and pack everything from her room, take her belongings out to her car and tell the staff she was going home.
They stopped calling me to ask if they should hold her room at the hotel because even though she portrayed that she was checking out, she always came back a few short hours later.
But that night she was still out and it was getting dark.
Mom had called the hotel and spoken to Shawna at the front desk to get directions
Veronica was calling from the gas station less than ¼ mile from the hotel, so Shawna expected her to pull up any minute but she didn’t.
45 minutes later she still hadn’t shown up.
I called the police to ask them to be on the look out for her rental car.
of course, after phone calls to the hotel, phone calls to the police to give them a make and model of her rental car and the police sending out the bulletin to be on the look out for my mother, she waltzed in the hotel lobby and went up to her room.
The whole ordeal of trying to care for another person and stay up to date on their whereabouts is exhausting
You reach a point of self preservation where you just kinda say “ya know what, there’s nothing I can do, I just hope she’s ok”
Then, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and a whole new set of worries washed over Bonnie and me.
We had been trying to get mom into a care facility, hoping that if we moved her stuff into an independent living facility and we could get her there to see her new place she’d be down to move.
But the opportunities to place Mom went on lockdown just like everyone else, so mom was stuck at the hotel.
Honestly, given how rapidly the virus has infected some nursing homes and elder care facilities, it may have been better for Mom to be at a hotel in a room by herself with very few guests around.
While all of this was going on I was waiting for the guardianship process, that i had initiated back in February when I was in Missouri, to make some progress
When I started the process I was feeling good about getting a court date, getting guardianship over my mother and therefore some control over her wellbeing
I was looking forward to putting out the little fires that were burning around her like her credit card likely getting maxed out on a rental car contract with no return date, and an extended stay at hotel… to name a few.
But when the world shut down to quarantine at home, the Missouri courts did too, so her hearing date got moved.
We finally had a virtual hearing with a judge on June 3, 2020 and I was granted guardianship over my mother which she vehemently opposed.
Since she was mentally unregulated because she was not adhering to any medication regimen, basically she was mad at everything.
I learned later she was manic.
Mind you, while all of this was going on and we’re in quarantine, I started a new job, which is great but I’ve only met my co-workers in little rectangular boxes on my laptop screen.
I’m trying to learn the ropes of the new job while I was managing the homeschooling of my 6th grader, Seth, who, on the best of days, hates school.
We were trying to get him to learn to check his email, his google classroom, the county’s learning portal and whatever other learning platforms the teacher’s chose to implement as they moved their classrooms into a virtual world.
Oh, and my wife cracked her ankle while walking the dog on the very first day of quarantine here in the DC are so she was completely out of commission as quarantine began.
I’m going to the grocery store with a mask on in long ass lines waiting for the bouncer to let me in the front door so I can not buy toilet paper and over purchase cookie dough chips and ice cream.
And amidst all of that was the struggle to make the case that the police force were brutalizing people of color and it was unfair because Black Lives Matter.
Life was pandemonium
Back on Mom, When I told her that I was trying to help her find a new place to live and move her stuff out of storage she hissed at me like a venomous snake
I DO NOT NEED YOUR HELP DAMON! I HAVE MOVED ALL ACROSS THIS COUNTRY BY MYSELF AND I HAVE OWNED HOMES FOR YEARS WITHOUT YOUR HELP. I WILL START LOOKING FOR APARTMENTS WHEN I AM READY.
And the vitriol spewed on.
I just kinda sat on the phone quiet and said ok.
I had a smirk on my face that was a combination of disbelief and disappointment for where we were in that moment and desperate hope that she didn’t need me and somewhere in the confusing maze of her mind there was a plan
but I knew there wasn’t
So I waited.
I couldn’t get her to leave the hotel on her own, but i also knew she couldn’t hold it together much longer.
I knew she was going to screw up somewhere, either at her old home where the new owners would have to call the police, or there at the hotel where the staff would be forced to call the police.
Mom was caught on the new home owner’s Ring door bell video system moving their bird feeder across the street, and somehow she still had a key to her former front storm door so she locked it, forcing the family to enter their own home through their garage.
Her mental state began to deteriorate at the hotel too
She was talking about people selling her drugs, blaming the cleaning staff for using the wrong kinds of chemicals that could poison her, and standing out in the parking lot next to her rental vehicle shouting, but not driving off.
She would go back into her room where the shouting continued as she banged on the walls.
The manager and I agreed the next time that happened he would have to call the police to have her removed and we would start the institutionalization and medication regimen again...
...Today my mother is in care as social workers try to find a memory care facility for her.
As her guardian I’m starting to gain control of her finances in a guardianship account for her benefit.
She’s not allowed to drive any more
Pretty soon we’ll have her placed, and hopefully they can get her regulated.
But she’s gonna be pissed
But she’ll be safe and she won’t be able to risk her physical nor financial well being nearly as much as if she were still out on her own.
I have to take a few moments to thank some great people who have supported Bonnie and me through all that we’ve been through so far.
Sergeant Bergman and everyone in the Raymore Missourie Police Department. They know my mother by name, have been dealing with her for years, and as far as I can tell have been patient and kind with her.
The staff of the Belton Missouri Police Department who got to know our family pretty well too over the last several weeks as we tried to keep tabs on mom in that neighboring town.
The staff of the Fairfield Inn including James, Susan, and their whole team. In the early days of Mom’s ordeal, recognizing that Mom was effectively homeless James comforted me by saying, “I tried to put myself in your shoes and I would want someone to have my mom’s back if she was in this situation… so don’t worry about her, we’ll take care of her while she’s here.”
I need to thank the team at the Hampton Inn who, just like at the Fairfield, got to know Mom and me by name. That wonderful woman named Shawna took my calls daily and kept a watchful eye out on Mom. That evening when Mom called for directions to the hotel, Shawna called to let me know she was going off shift but that she had told her team all that was going on… When I spoke to Shawna the next morning she said she called back to the hotel after she got home to make sure mom was safe.
The world is filled with good people and I’ve encountered so many
My Aunt Bonnie who worries about her sister every day and has tirelessly organized her friends and our family to help us out with Mom and her stuff.
Kevin, Sandy and their children who so graciously helped us move my other out of her home in a single day. — Kevin and I still text and call every once in a while and with a great Missouri farmer’s accent he asks, “How’s your momma?"
All of the social workers out there who step into challenging, confusing, perilous situations facing people like Veronica who can’t calculate what’s best for them so they fight.
All of the front line responders on the police forces, in the ambulances, and at the hospitals and psych wards who encounter people every single day and try to help them the best way they can.
I’m sure it must be hard to go home at the end of their shift, morning afternoon and night and wonder whatever happened to that person you helped on your shift, hoping they’re ok.
But this is just my story, one of millions out there…
others around us are struggling, suffering, and challenged in a variety of ways personally, professionally, in their own health or with the health and welfare of their loved ones.
I’ve had guests who signed up to be on the show come back to say they have to postpone their interview because dear relatives are dying or other elements of their lives are blowing up.
We all go through challenging stuff and just as we are adoptees who are supportive of one another because of our shared experiences, we have to be supportive of one another for our shared human experience.
Ya know, whenever someone was down I would try to encourage them that things would eventually get better by saying, “The sun always comes out.”
After sharing some of what i’ve been through with my biological father Bill, I said it again
“The sun always comes out."
With the wisdom of a lifetime on earth in his words he told me, “That’s the thing Damon, The sun is always there. You just have to find it."
I hope that change in perspective will mean something for you as it did for me.
Ok, That’s all for me for now.
I’m off for the summer.
I’ve already begun interviewing the next season of adoptees for the shows that will come out this fall of 2020,
I’m going to do some writing, real estate investing, and try to re-energize my mind.
I hope you’ll make time to do the same for yourself.