For what my mom and I went through, this describes one of the worst periods in my life.
This post was originally an email written to a close friend, way back in May 2006. My dad had died almost four months earlier. It describes the events leading up to and after my mom was kidnapped by my sister.
It was all maliciously-planned, and deceptively-executed. The only two people who were deceived were my mom and me, which makes me believe that the others all had something to gain from this.
Mom and I were made to believe that she would only stay with my sister, Kathy, for no more than a month while we decided what was best for her future. But unlike mom and me, everyone else knew it was intended to be permanent. Due to our underlying distrust and dislike for Kathy, neither my mom nor I would have ever agreed to a permanent move. But I was on the wrong side of the country to make it an easy trip for mom, so she and I talked it over a lot and decided it would be OK, since it was just “temporary”.
Kathy’s plans would eventually become clear: become mom’s legal guardian, declare mom delusional, and have the courts give my sister power-of-attorney over my mom. At that point, my sister could completely rewrite my folk’s estate Trust to eliminate everyone not involved in the deception, specifically me and possibly my aunt. Not knowing if my other sister was involved, it would have taken five beneficiaries and reduced them to just two.
Email from: Larry
to: Dave [a friend]
date: Sun, May 7, 2006 at 20:51
subject: A long update
I’ve been out of touch for a while because of a family situation that one thinks only happens in “other families.”
As you remember, my dad died in late January. My oldest sister, Kathy, went up to Roseville (where my folks have a home) to help out. After a short time, she suggested that she take mom back to Mesa, Arizona (her home), to live with her temporarily — “a month or so … no longer” — until we (the kids) can discuss options and come up with a best-case scenario for mom, going forward.
Since they said no more than a month, and my brother Alan only lives a few miles from mom, I asked why she couldn’t stay at home with assistance, and live with Alan part time. I was told it was not an option. When I tried to find out why, once again I was told it was simply not an option, supported by fairly lame excuses.
Missed red flag
In discussing it with mom, who was not very close with Kathy, she said, “It’s only going to be for a few weeks, maybe a month … I think I’ll be able to handle Kathy for that long.” Kathy doesn’t hold a job; her husband, Marlin, works half the week from home.
Even considering that my sister and I have never been close, either, it sounded like a good plan for mom … and that’s what was important. I was told they were going to rent a small truck to take some of mom’s stuff down for her. My brother Alan would drive the truck to Arizona, while Kathy and mom would fly.
They rented the truck one morning, so Kathy could help Alan load it. Then, later that day, Kathy and mom would catch a flight to Arizona, as Alan began the drive. I felt as if we had a good short-term plan for mom, and so did she.
Last minute distress
The day they rented the truck, I got a call from mom. She sounded almost panicked. “Larry, I’m scared, I don’t want to go. Something’s not right.” My initial response was to console her, thinking that she just didn’t want to leave her home, and began feeling the anxiety from it. So, I told her, “Mom, you’ll be OK … you can always call me from there. And you’ll only be there for two or three weeks, and that’s it.”
“I know that’s what they said, but,” she said, “wait, I think they’re coming back in … no, it’s OK. It’s a big truck, Larry. They’re taking a lot more than we discussed and they’ve been avoiding my questions. Something is not right, Larry … wait, I gotta go.” I heard Kathy call out “mom?” just before mom hung up. I wasn’t able to get through to her for the rest of that day, and by day’s end, they were all gone. Mom knew something wasn’t right. I was hoping she was wrong.
First week in Arizona
Prior to dad’s death, Mom was always, and I mean always, available to talk with me. Even when dad said mom was lying down, he’d go in and say, “Hun, it’s Larry” … and mom always took my call.
During mom’s first week in Arizona, though, every time I called, I was told it was a bad time … she was either in the bathroom, taking a nap … but whatever the reason, the result was the same: mom was not available to talk with me.
By the following Sunday, a little over a week after mom arrived in Mesa, I still had not been ‘permitted’ to speak with mom. So on that Sunday, I called their home number, mid-morning their time, got their machine and left a message. Then I began calling at least once an hour, only to continue getting their machine. All day long, I only got their machine, though I only left that first message.
Then, just after 5PM their time, I remembered I had Marlin’s cell number, so I dialed it, and to my surprise, he answered immediately. I heard Kathy talking and laughing in the background. Marlin sounded very upbeat. He said they were at a lake, and when I asked to speak with mom, he said she was at home with a caregiver. I told him that I had been calling all day, but no one answered. His reply was, “Yea, they probably wouldn’t answer it” [especially if they were told not to].
I asked Marlin if there was any other way to get in touch with mom, and he replied with an absolute: “No” <— remember that.
He suggested that I call their house again in 2-3 hours, when he and Kathy would be back from the lake. I said I would, and we ended the call. But as much as I kept trying to convince myself that I was overreacting, red flags were everywhere.
So as soon as I hung-up with Marlin, I dialed their home number again, got the machine, hung up, and pressed redial. To my complete surprise, mom answered the second call …
“Oh, Hi Larry! I’m so glad I answered this phone … they told me not to answer it.”
I asked mom where the caregiver was, and was told she left at 5PM (about 20 minutes earlier), meaning that mom would be alone for the next two to three hours, based on what Marlin said.
I asked mom if she got any messages that I called.
“No, not at all. Did you call, really?”
I told her that I had been calling every day for over a week.
“No one told me. Why wouldn’t they tell me? I was ready to clobber you!” (mom’s loving expression when I’d disappoint her over the tiniest of things).
Not only did Kathy and Marlin deliberately keep me from speaking with mom, but they also lied to mom about me calling.
I didn’t want to trouble mom with any more concerns, for which I began to have many. So I let it drop.
I asked mom if they set-up her computer, so we can write and video chat to each other. Mom told me they set up the old PC in her room, which had no internet connection. I asked her why they didn’t set-up her new iMac, the one dad bought just a few months before his death.
Mom said she asked, but Kathy told her they left it in Roseville … a direct, bold-faced lie. I told mom I knew they brought it down, so I asked her if she could locate a piece of paper and pencil, so as to jot down a few notes to follow-up on.
Mom went into her room, sat at her desk, and was ready to write. I asked her to jot a note to ask Marlin to set-up her iMac in her room so we can stay in touch. I knew Kathy’s home had WiFi, as did the iMac, so it would be a very simple set-up. She wrote that down, and said, “that would be great.”
We continued talking, with mom still sitting at her desk, as another bomb was about to drop. All of a sudden, something caught mom’s attention, and she interrupted with, “Oh yea … they gave me this cell phone, too.”
More red flags
I asked mom for the number, but she didn’t know it.
“Mom, if you call me, I can get the number off Caller ID.”
“They didn’t show me how to make calls, they only showed me how to answer calls.”
“How do I find the number?” It was a Nokia, and I was not familiar with that particular model. So I asked mom to add that to the list for Marlin: “send mom’s cell number to Larry”.
By then, we had been talking for around an hour, so I told mom I’d call back either the next evening (Monday) or sometime during the day Tuesday.
The sucker punch
I decided to wait until Tuesday, and call at 10AM (their time) which had always been a good time for mom. Marlin answered, but it was immediately apparent that everything changed.
His tone was very cold … not at all like when he was at the lake. When I asked, Marlin said mom was “still sleeping” and I should try again some other time. I never once believed mom was sleeping. Once again it was a direct, bold-faced lie.
I said, “Okay, I’ll try again later … oh, by the way, Marlin, is there a better way to catch mom … does she have a cell phone?”
Marlin’s answer revealed a lot, delivered with another direct lie: “No.”
My second attempt was at 2PM their time. This time, Marlin said mom went to the dog park with Kathy. Another lie. Mom uses a walker and had bladder problems … she almost never left the house, even to go shopping with dad. Nothing but lies.
I decided to make the third attempt right after their dinner time, about 6:30. This time Kathy answered, and there was no way I could have been prepared for what came next.
Already sounding angered, Kathy quickly stated, “Mom just went in to lie down and doesn’t want to be bothered.”
So I said, “Kathy, would you please just hand the phone to mom so I can speak with her.”
She began to laugh with a level of evil I can’t begin to describe: “Mom doesn’t want to talk to you! When are you going to get it? You are not going to talk with mom anymore”. While still laughing, she slammed down the phone.
The scariest red flag
I was literally shaking and my heart was racing. That was the precise moment I realized that my sister was much more than a mean liar, but she was indeed a psychopath.
I called right back, and this time, Marlin answered, also laughing.
I said, “Marlin, please let me talk to my mom.”
Still laughing, Marlin said, “Sorry, Larry, can’t do that.” And he hung up.
From that point, they took their home phone off the hook and turned off their cells. I’d never call mom at Kathy’s home again.
Kathy apparently had it all planned. I only recently (May 06) discovered that when mom went to Mesa, Kathy and Alan loaded up the truck with every bed in mom’s house, lots of mom’s furniture — including the entire master bedroom suite — TVs, computers, and everything else of value. That’s what mom was trying to tell me when she called me on that moving day.
It was all a big, fabricated lie, conceived specifically to mislead just mom and me. Some time later, Alan told me that Kathy had since replaced all her old beds with those from mom’s house.
This all took place about two months ago (Mar 06). I spoke with Mesa Police, and unless mom is being abused, they can’t get involved. Mesa Police gave me some other numbers to call. One lady at an Elder Crisis Center told me she hears the same story every day, and it breaks her heart, since there is nothing that can be done.
Where does Kathy’s plan go from here? According to the other people I spoke with, including a legal advocate for seniors (an attorney), Kathy technically, but legally, kidnapped mom, and at the same time, made herself mom’s legal guardian.
The legal advocate told me the one option I had was to kidnap mom back from Kathy. It’s insane. When Kathy’s ready, she can file papers stating that mom can no longer make rational decisions, no longer take care of herself, and state that mom is delusional. If she succeeds in getting it through the courts, which she would likely do, she would get power-of-attorney and would make all mom’s decisions for her, including the power to revise my folk’s Estate Trust (i.e., the Will).
I’ve got to stop here, for now. I really believe my sister is mentally ill, and I have no idea at this point how to stop her.
date: Mon, May 8, 2006 at 00:51
subject: Re: A long update
Wow. Except for the details, it’s exactly what happened with my grandmother on my mother’s side of the family. My mother’s sister fucked-over my mother just like your sister is doing to you. It got ugly with lawyers. Basically, my mother had to re-kidnap her own mother, then battle it out in court.
I take it your sister’s not that smart, or at least so self-centered and overcome by greed that she’s blinded. Get a lawyer. Get your mom on the phone and record the conversations. Keep them secret to everyone, even her. Ask her if she loves you. Ask her if she loves your children. Do this over and over. Document the steps your sister has taken to deny you contact with your mother.
Ultimately, you may have to convince a judge of your sister’s deceit, manipulation, and denial of your mother’s human rights. Document everything, dates, attempted calls, blow off responses, etc. They add up to a pretty ugly picture. Begin now to build evidence for contesting the settlement later. Best case scenario: you won’t need it. Worst case: you’ll be prepared.
Bud, the rules are changed now. You are proceeding toward legal war. Behave accordingly. Build your arsenal.
date: Mon, May 8, 2006 at 13:03
subject: Re: A long update
Thanks. I’m one step ahead of you — well, more precisely, a few years. I learned the value of having recorded evidence even before my divorce in 1995.
It’s a great destroyer of self-perceived credibility.
The quoted lines in my previous email were taken right from the transcript. It’s kind of like having a straight flush … nothing beats it.
I certainly never expected to hear that your family experienced it, too. Frankly, I had no idea how rampant the problem is, but also how easily people can get away with it.
Within six months, Kathy had already started spreading the lie that mom was delusional, though mom was still as sharp as a tack. Mom just refused to speak with Kathy and Marlin knowing that she was being held against her will. I never spoke to mom again while she was at Kathy’s, but whenever I heard she was in the hospital, I was usually able to track her down with about 3-4 phone calls.
Mom was never in the hospital prior to my sister kidnapping her. I imagine the stress of living in that house was unbearable for her. Mom died almost exactly one year after dad died. During one of her hospital stays, she caught an infection and was gone in less than 24 hours. Luckily I had a wonderful, hour-long conversation with mom about two weeks earlier on her 90th birthday. I firmly believe, though, that mom would have lived longer if not for Kathy. I also believe mom ruined Kathy’s plans by dying before Kathy was able to execute those plans.
For me, personally, it was one of the saddest times of my life. While Kathy was harboring mom against her will, she was continuing her assault against me to decimate my character. She had everyone believing that mom had “lost it” and needed her, and that I was a trouble-maker with deceptive plans — she used her own character to describe me, which is very common in a psychopath’s attack on a victim. My mom and I were best buds, and she was taken from me one year before she died.
Related: The disciple-in-law