These days, I feel like a fraud, a lot.
My name is on a lot of paperwork. My responsibilities grow every day, extending to things I have no comprehension about. I spent at least two evenings researching legal terms to try to understand the trust that my parents’ lawyer put together for them. I have spent many hours pouring over the legal documents–alone, with my mother, with my brother–trying to figure out what the trust is actually saying. To find out if it is done the way my parents want it done. To find out what the future will look like when one or the other, and then both, have died. There are complications that make the trust not quite so simple. But then again, it’s all legal mumbo-jumbo, so there’s nothing simple about it.
I’ve had to sit in on a meeting with the lawyer as he explained the trust, then had my parents’ sign the paperwork. I’ve had to take copious notes on things I do not understand in order to repeat the information to my siblings. I’ve had to chase the lawyer, then return a phone call to the lawyer, then listen as he explains things again while I try to take MORE notes to explain things to my siblings AND my parents. I’ve been mid-way into making dinner when I’ve been called on the phone and summoned to my parents’ house to explain parts of the trust that I have no understanding of.
I’ve had to fill out paperwork to get bonds reissued. I’ve had to fill out online accounts to get online bond accounts created. I’ve had to fill out paperwork to get bank accounts changed over into the trust.
I don’t know how to do any of this stuff. I’ve researched and bluffed my way through. I’ve walked away from meetings, conversations, phone calls, summonses, feeling like a complete and utter fraud. I don’t have the answers. I don’t understand the terminology. I don’t remember–or know–why things were done the way they were done. And yet, all of this has been asked of me. And yet, I’ve answered the call to do everything they’ve asked of me…and I feel like a fraud.
My mother is making plans to take a trip overseas this summer. She’s buying tickets, making reservations, looking into itineraries…for a trip that even IF she is still alive, she will likely be too weak and too ill to take. I listen to her talk about the trip, and I keep my big mouth shut. I know she needs this. I know she needs something to look forward to and something to concentrate on. And every minute she talks about the trip, my heart breaks a little more. I won’t stop her from making the plans–even if she ends up losing money over it–and I won’t tell her she won’t be able to make the trip. I won’t tell her how much it hurts for me to watch her make the plans, knowing in my heart that she’ll never be able to follow through on them. And I feel like a fraud.
My whole body hurts. My knees are popping with every step the last couple of days. The back of one knee hurts. The back of one thigh hurts. My back hurts. My hips hurts. My shoulders hurt. My arms hurt. I limp my way to Mom’s house–there and back–feeling so tired and so painful. Yet when I’m in their house, I hide the limp and I hide the pain and I hide the fatigue. It’s all a lie. When Mom asks, I’ll tell her I’m “tired” but it’s nothing new. I have trouble standing because my feet hurt from the plantar fasciitis, but I stand anyway…I walk anyway. I don’t tell them. If I told them, they’d be upset and they’d tell me to go home or stay home. But things still need to be done and unfortunately, I’m the one around to do it.
I had a doctor’s appointment this morning. My mother scheduled an eye appointment without realizing I had an appointment of my own, so they went without me. On the way home, they were supposed to stop at the bank to get some papers notarized and others that needed a bank’s seal. I had all the paperwork marked with notes as to what needed what, with “sign here” post-its and post-its showing which needed notarization and which needed the bank’s seal. They called from the bank, saying they didn’t know what they needed to have done. I had gone over all of it with Mom, and everything was marked with post-its and notes. And they were confused. The bank rep was not helpful either, arguing with them over what had to be done, confusing them more. Upsetting them. They came home without getting anything done. I have to go back with them tomorrow.
I chase the lawyer, who isn’t terribly responsive most of the time. I chase the insurance agent. I chase the investment advisor. I chase the doctors, I make–and cancel–appointments. I keep the calendar. I watch the mail and the email. I make and print the pill schedules. I schedule and oversee the cleaning crew. Hub and I even buy groceries. A lot of these things are even more stressful for me because I don’t like to do them. I don’t like making phone calls and asking questions. I don’t like talking to people that I don’t really know. I don’t like calling doctors’ offices. I don’t like taking responsibility for things that are uncomfortable or outside my bailiwick.
I know I’m not irreplaceable. I know someone else could help them. But right now, there’s no one else to do all these things but me. And these things need to be done sooner rather than later. Sooner, before Mom gets sick again and can’t…do things.
I do the things that need to be done. But underneath it all, I feel like I’m bumbling my way through. I feel like I’m bluffing and guessing…and kind of hoping for the best. I’m pushing myself to do things I dislike–with much distress–because they have to be done and no one else is doing it.
I feel like a big, fat, fraud. I know it’s in my head, it’s only me and no one else expects me to do everything the way I’m doing it. And I’m not doing everything alone. My brothers are doing the things I’m asking them to do. But I’m still coordinating it all. I’m asking them to do things. I’m making sure they’re getting done. I’m still at the center of things getting done. And I’m not good at doing that AND I don’t like to have to do it…so it’s another case of feeling like I am a fraud.
It’s difficult to be stepping in on my parents’ lives like this. Things that in the past they would have done on their own without question, they can no longer handle them. I’m the youngest of my siblings, so it’s strange for me to to feel like I’m the responsible one among my parents AND my siblings. This is a tough road to be on. I hope I can continue to do what needs to be done and not beat myself up too much over the way I’m doing it.