It wasn't long after Harold's funeral, that Paul and I moved a good 45 minutes away from Audrey. My mom, however, lived only about 10 minutes away from her. She met Audrey when Harold was still alive. When our little family, Paul, Shelby and myself, had gone to Florida for Spring Break, I had asked my mom to check in on them while we were gone. Thus began Audrey's relationship with my mom.
2 months after we moved, I got a call that Audrey was in the hospital and that things didn't look good. She had congestive heart failure
I went to visit her in the hospital one day. She looked terrible. Audrey was a little woman. She may have weighed about 90 pounds soaking wet. She had a big hump on her back and walked a bit tipped over. I was used to her always looking impeccable though. She had beautiful, thick, white hair that was cut in a bob. Many were envious of her thick mane. It was always styled perfectly. And, her clothes.... for a 90 year old woman, she dressed very fashionably. So, seeing her so rough looking in the hospital, really broke my heart.
I sat down by her bedside to talk to her. And, as so many times before, our conversation turned to her niece Barbara. Audrey only had one sister and she had died many years before I met Audrey. Audrey's sister had one child, Barbara. I had heard many stories about Barbara. I had also read many letters that Barbara had written to Audrey and Harold. They were mean letters with very explicit language. Letters asking for money and letters accusing Audrey and Harold of one thing or another. Audrey told me she had a history of drug abuse and judging by those letters, she had a history of a lot of other things that made me very uncomfortable to read. Barbara was never far from Audrey's thoughts though, it didn't matter that she had not heard from her in years. And, despite all the horrible things I had heard about Barbara, there was an undeniable love for her on Audrey's behalf. Having been given a grim prognosis on her health, Audrey was all the more desperate to find her. Audrey was also asking me to find her a new attorney to get her affairs in order. Her old attorney was a crook and was also in a coma. Pretty good reasons to need a new attorney, huh? I found myself in way over my head. After all, I lived 45 minutes away with an 18 month old and a husband who worked full-time and who was also in graduate school. Besides, some where in that conversation, Audrey asked if I thought my mom would be her power of attorney.
Red flags immediately went up when this request. See, Audrey did have a friend. Her friend was Betty. Betty had done for years the things that I had just started doing. Betty, though, was not much younger than Audrey.... maybe 10 years. And, I had not heard of nor had I seen Betty until many months after meeting Audrey. Upon my meeting Betty, I could tell Betty was suspicious. It was written all over her face. Who wouldn't be?
The problem with the relationship between Audrey and Betty was that Audrey didn't respect Betty... for who knows what reason. Actually, I thought Audrey was mean to Betty. Audrey was not able to push my mom around the same way she did Betty. And, maybe that is reason for the lack of respect. Audrey was quirky and if you didn't call her out on the carpet, she was manipulative and contrary. I felt bad that Betty didn't trust our intentions, but I also knew in time, we would prove our integrity.
I didn't even try to defend myself or my mom to Betty. There were no accusations on Betty's behalf anyway. I just felt the chill in the air when we happened to run into one another. Betty was never mean. She just wasn't warm either. In my heart, I knew my own intentions. Even if I had cheated or stole from Audrey, I had to answer to God. That thought was way more scary than answering to some 80 year old woman named Betty. Audrey though, for whatever reason, really trusted me, she had given me countless blank checks for groceries or other things I had purchased for her. I always tried to show her the receipts and the totals, but she would have none of that. She wouldn't even look. I could have taken her for all she was worth with those blank checks.
Anyway, we moved on with my mom as the POA. Audrey recovered from that spell that landed her in the hospital. Now, she wanted to get her affairs in order and find Barbara.
(Time passed. Shelby was 3 and I had already had Gracie during this time.)
My mom and I both spent a lot of time looking for Barbara. We used the internet and some other search tools and followed any bit of information Audrey had on her. For some reason, she seemed to have several names and she didn't stay in one place for very long. Our leads always ended at dead end roads.
While those searches continued on and off, Audrey had other loose ends she wanted to tie up. I thought those loose ends meant cleaning up some paper work and clearing her apartment of some clutter and some of Harold's things. What I didn't know, was that while Audrey lived in a tiny apartment, just 2 minutes down the road was a rather old, large house that she owned but hadn't lived in for many years.
Audrey wanted to rid the house of the possessions and then sell the house itself. I wasn't doing much for Audrey at this point. My mom, however, she was overwhelmed with this situation I accidently got her into. I didn't even get to see the inside of the house.
I was pregnant. I had no intentions of having child #3 so quickly after child #2, but God, the author of life, had other plans. It must have been those rats, snails and puppy dog tails that boys are made of that made me sick to my stomach for about 22 weeks of that pregnancy. That horrible naseous feeling combined with my mom's description of the deplorable conditions of that house, kept me far away. It seems that Audrey and Harold were more than quirky.
Sorry, you are going to have to come back again. I had no idea I had so much to say about Audrey. It is fascinating. I don't think you are going to want to miss the rest.