• Anita Tosh

A Visit with Mom

Updated: Dec 20, 2018

It all started with a hysterical phone call.

“I’m being sued!” she screeched and then began to sob, “I don’t know what to do.”

“Sued? Are you kidding me?”

“No, I have the paperwork right here! I really need some help.”

Knowing I could never sort this out over the phone I said, “I’ll be right over.”

It’s about a thirty minute drive to her retirement community. On the way there I wonder if this could be real, or just a misunderstanding. When I knock on her door, there is no reply. I try the knob, and the door opens. She is coming toward the door smiling, “Oh, hi honey, I didn’t know you were coming. It’s good to see you.”

“So, how’ve you been?” I say, wondering if she might say anything about her problem.

“Oh, alright,” she answers with a shrug. “So, is there any reason you stopped, by?”

“Well, you called me up to let me know you were being sued.”

“I’m what?” she exclaims!

I notice some paperwork on the table. Her frantic babbling becomes background noise as I pick it up and begin to read. “Yeah, this says you're being sued for eleven thousand dollars.”

“Oh, no! What am I going to do? I don’t have any money.”

“Do you have any other records on this account?”

“Anything I have would be right there in that drawer.”

I get comfortable on the floor and begin going through her files. This takes time, and, we chit chat as I go through the files. Then she asks, “So, why did you come over today? Did you just want to clean out my files?”

“No, I’m looking for paperwork on this account.”

“What for?”

“I want to find out why they are suing you.”

“I’m being sued? Oh no! What am I going to do? I don’t have any money!”

I begin to realize it won’t matter how I answer her as she will forget what I said in a minute or two. I turn the conversation to other things, asking about her friends there at the center. Once I have cleaned out the last thirteen years of files, I realize there are no statements from her bank. I ask, “Where can I find your bank statements? I need to see if you have any money to offer them.” She looks puzzled. “Don’t you get a statement in the mail from the bank each month?”

“No, I haven’t gotten one of them for a long time.”

“I guess I will have to call the bank to help me figure this out.”

After some time on the phone, I have an idea of her financial situation, and briefly go over it with her. “It looks like you might be able to offer one hundred a month, but that wouldn’t leave you much for food or anything.” I walk over to the table and notice a binder there with the bank logo on it. When I open it I find monthly bank statements neatly inserted by date. “Look at this. You have your monthly bank statements right here.”

“Well, I could have told you that.

Why fight it? I smile and shake my head. No one is going to believe this, I think to myself. I think of her youngest son who is in touch with her often. “Does David know about this?”

“About what?”

“That you are being sued.”

“I’m being sued! Oh, this is terrible! Everything is happening at once!” She buries her face in her hands and sobs in earnest. I send David a text. He calls back quickly.

“Did you know about …”

“Yes, she’s being sued for eleven thousand, eight hundred and eighty six dollars and ninety seven cents”

“What can we do?”

“Nothing,” he laughs,” She’s an old woman and she doesn’t have any money. They can sue her, but they can’t get anything.”

I finish my conversation and hang up. Something I said made her angry. She is glaring at me and says, “I have a right to know. What am I supposed to do? You said I’m being sued.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. David said everything is taken care of. I clean up the paperwork, including the original “intent to sue” pages I had found there, and put them safely out of sight, into her file drawer, not to be seen again for at least thirteen years. “I better be getting home and cook some dinner for Terry. He’ll be hungry when he gets home. “I give her a hug and a kiss, pick up the trash bag of old files and head for the door. “Love you, Mom. See you next week.”

“Love you, sweetie. Bye now.” Then under her breath, “Wonder why she came over.”

"Hi, dear, I didn't know you were coming."