Three Horrible Families
When I worked in the Alzheimer’s Ward, we seldom saw family members.
I don’t blame them. It’s hard for a child to visit a parent who doesn’t recognize them. It’s heartbreaking.
But there were a few who visited regularly.
There was one son who came in every weekend to play chess with his father. Alzheimer’s is an uneven disease, leaving parts of the mind completely intact while it ravages others. In this case, the father didn’t know his own son’s name, but beat him soundly at chess every time.
Then there were families who did come, but I wished they hadn’t. Three in particular come to mind.
One man we cared for was 95 years old and very wealthy. His wife came to check on him regularly and had dinner with him on Sundays. She was much younger than him, which in this case still put her in her 60s, and sadly, she died of lung cancer.
Now that their stepmother was out of the way, his kids were in line for a big inheritance- and suddenly they were underfoot constantly. One of his daughters offered me a fully-restored classic Corvette (he owned three) if I could sneak him out of the ward and into her house. (I declined.) We were cautioned never to say anything to any of his children that we might be called on to repeat in court. Eventually one of his children got a court order and left with him, and presumably got the lions share of his money when his time came.
The second family I remember were the four sons of a woman who came to us after frying her brain with a drug overdose. The four would show up, lock the door, and use drugs with their mother. How perfectly lovely, a family building memories together. Once they left a small baggie of white powder on their mother’s nightstand– a present for later– which I discreetly poured down the sink.
But the absolute worst family I encountered was the family of a dementia patient with diabetes. After their visits, they would leave him with sacks and sacks of Pixy Stix. If you don’t remember the candy from your childhood, Pixy Stix are straws filled with brightly colored powdered sugar.
They were trying to kill him.
His medical care expenses were burning through “their” inheritance, so they sabotaged his health.
We took the candy away as soon as they left, of course, so it didn’t work. He lived out a normal lifespan, no thanks to them.
I don’t have a moral or conclusion for this.
These were just things that happened.