Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The coastal or commie side of my family

It seems like I'm always writing about my Ohio relatives, so I thought I'd better give equal time to those who cling, like barnacles, to the east or west coast. The coastal thing is not random, but a conscious decision. According to California Bro, no-one in the center of the country could possibly have anything to contribute to any rational discussion. This from a guy who believes Ron Dellums would make a hell of a good senator.

However, the spotlight character of this post is my uncle Joe. Joe was a selfish old rip who did exactly as he pleased. As my father said, he broke every rule at least twice. One of the rules he almost broke was the one against fratricide; when they were boys, he deliberately broke my father's arm. My father managed to survive until manhood, when he became taller and stronger than Joe, who was two years older than him. Despite, or because of this, they were very close, and by no means free of sibling rivalry.

Over the years, my father hinted, on more than one occasion he had had to go to Joe's rescue and get him out of one jam or another. For one thing, Joe was an inveterate gambler. He also liked to drink and was fond of ladies. He gave up the two latter diversions in his old age, but he never quit gambling. On one occasion, when Joe was visiting my father in New Jersey, he wouldn't unpack his bags until he had visited the casinos in Atlantic City.

Joe and his wife Alice lived in a lefty enclave in California (of course), where he never had to encounter anyone with ideas different from his. He started having heart attacks of increasing severity when he was in his fifties, but he was a tough old stick and he and Alice survived to the age of 90, she caring for him. Then she died.

Alice must have done a lot for Joe, for it became obvious after a while that he could not survive on his own. He was very frail and was in and out of the hospital several times. His daughters had to find someone to take care of him at last.

They were lucky enough to find Jenny, a graduate student at a local college. Jenny was kind, caring and gentle. She saw to Joe's taking his medications, eating regularly, and doing exercises in the pool at the Y. She drove him around in his car when he had to go somewhere. She kept him alive and functioning, and he was very fond of her.

Jenny finally completed her education and disappeared from the picture, and Joe had to go to a nursing home. In the course of cleaning out his apartment, the daughters discovered large sums of money were missing. His bank account, in which his social security and pension were automatically deposited, was empty. Jenny had robbed him blind.

What to do? She had saved my uncle's life, it was true, but she was a thief. The family finally got a lawyer and managed to get some of the money back. Meanwhile Joe, who was 97, finally died.

1 comment:

airforcewife said...

Ooof! My MIL accuses everyone of stealing from her, but she will grab any chance she can to steal from others. We could not allow her in our house alone because she would make off with whatever of our stuff that she could hide, including, once, hubby's car keys.