This week my sister and brother came to see dad. It has been years since the 3 of us were in the same place at the same time. My brother was here a year ago when we had the memorial picnic for mom. My sister was still thousands of miles away. She moved to just 60 miles away in December and visited dad twice since then. Before today, I don’t know the last time my sister saw my brother – maybe many years.
Anyway brother drove 400 miles to visit dad and picked up sister on the way. She doesn’t have a car. They returned to her home city for the night and will return on Wednesday according to the plan. I was and remain uncertain of how the rest of this visit will go.
It has been over a year since mom passed away. My brother and I have had several arguments in the past year concerning his occupation of dad’s house without paying any rent or expenses. Thus dad is supporting him to the tune of about $16,000 per year for taxes and insurance. I want to sell that house now that dad can’t live there. Dad needs the money to pay for his assisted living expenses.
My brother just wants to continue till the well runs dry and then turn the house over to Medicaid and let them pay for dad’s expenses. There are many problems with that idea. First of all, we wouldn’t get the value out of the house (over $500,000). Second, Medicaid won’t pay for assisted living — only a nursing home. Dad is doing better in assisted living than he did in the nursing home. Why force him into a nursing home? I certainly wouldn’t want to live there!
And lastly, if dad were to pass away after he lost the house, my sister and I would inherit much less since Medicaid keeps the cost of selling the house. Since my Brother is a hoarder, it could cost a huge amount to just empty the house and prepare it to sell and then sell it. We would get pennies on the dollar! Thus my brother would get everything he wants – 5 years of free living or whatever, while I do all the work and inherit almost nothing. Myy sister is financially needy and she would also stand to lose her share of whatever would have been left.
But forgetting any possible inheritance for the moment, I continue to worry about dad’s daily expenses and how I will continue to pay them.
And now, more about the hoarding. My brother had asked what I wanted him to bring from the house. I suggested he bring an afghan that mom had that my sister might want. I also suggested 2 pictures mom and dad had in their house and 2 throw pillows I had given mom a few years ago as well as a couple of small rugs.
He brought those things, and also a box of out-of-date food from mom and dad’s pantry. He asked if I wanted it. I told him to throw it out. “What am I going to do with out-of-date food?” He said “No one ever died from eating out-of-date pudding”. And I said “I have no room for it. Throw it out”, and finally he did.
I asked my sister what she wanted from mom’s things. Well, she said, “first I want the picture our brother just brought. And the afghan he brought also.” I showed her some of mom’s jewelry and she picked some pieces from that box also. I brought out some of the pictures and my sister wanted to take them all home with her, review them and then bring them back.
I said no to that suggestion. Remember, my sister is also a hoarder. Once she “borrowed” half dozen pictures of one of my grandsons to copy and return to me. Only she couldn’t find them and I never got them back.
Instead, I suggested we look through the pictures together. I gave her the pictures of her daughters and her granddaughter that had been in my parent’s collection. I reminded her that I plan to scan the old black and white pictures and would give her digital copies of those, but it might take awhile.
I am the mean one who makes the rules in this case. But I have been burned before, so I have learned when to say no. Some of the things my brother brought me (the rugs and pictures) may have value and I wanted to sell them to use the money for dad’s care. I will still see if I can do that with the picture I kept and the rugs. I just hope my sister hangs up the picture she took so it doesn’t end up as more clutter in her closets, etc.
I am ambivalent about what to give a hoarding sister. I have a lot of things (my own) that I no longer use and would normally give to her. But she had to “abandon” her previous home because it was so cluttered with “junk” that she couldn’t get it cleaned up. Instead she had to move to low-income housing and essentially start all over again. I gave her some of dad’s dining room chairs as she needs furniture. But I also have crafts items that I haven’t had time to use. I considered giving her those but so far restrained myself.
I don’t want to be responsible for having her build up another hoarding home. I think she would be literally evicted from her low-income housing if she creates a hoarding home there. On the one hand, I don’t want to feel like I am the one to decide what goes into her home. But on the other hand, I don’t want to be responsible for adding things she hadn’t even asked for.
If anyone has suggestions on what I should give to a hoarding sister (or whether I should even take the hoarding into consideration at all!), please let me know. I know my sister considers me the bossy older sister who tells her what to do. For the most part, I’d rather not be a part of that. But on the other hand, I don’t want to make things worse.
Tomorrow they will return for another visit with dad and will then visit me afterwards again. The next day my brother will go back home to dad’s house. I may write more about this later in the week.