Power

There is no such thing as power without responsibility. Well you can try, but it always ends in tears. Even when you don’t there are winners and losers. Let me enlarge…

Over the last three weeks we have been busily involved in exercising our legal powers as powers of attorney on behalf of an old family friend. Emphasis on the ‘old’. We’re talking upper nineties here.

Recently our very good friend became ill. For twelve long hours she lingered at death’s door, or should I say dithered indecisively before deciding to stay with what she knew. Which annoyed some people, but less about them later.

Upon hearing the news, we thundered up the Island highway. Made sure all was under control at the hospital, obtained reports, discussed issues with medical staff and care home manager. Then we thundered back down home getting back late and very tired. Daily phone calls to hospital and relatives ensued while juggling new work issues. A disinterested and cynical reader might think we were being a bit over the top, but we reckon we owe our elderly friend a debt of gratitude for the help that she and her late husband gave us when we first landed. That is a debt I will not consider paid until she is gone and her estate settled.

What didn’t help was Hospital staff and Doctors often giving conflicting information. On one occasion within an hour of each other. On the third day one refused to give us any details over the phone because we “Weren’t on the list” which we bloody well most certainly were. Top of the list of contacts as legally registered powers of attorney if you please.

In the middle of this muddle our friend was blithely and obviously non compos mentis so we held all the aces. A terse conversation with hospital administration was had. Apologies were received. “Oops, sorry, that was on another screen.” Yeah, right. A full report was forthcoming. Necessary people were notified and informed, arrangements made, through which our old friend glided sedately as a Swan, while we and others were doing a lot of desperate paddling underneath. Which made some people, how shall I put this delicately, a little defensive.

Let me explain. A lot of West Coast Canadians hate confrontation to the point where it’s almost comic. They cannot negotiate like a European or our Southern cousins will. They either duck the issue and pass the buck like nobody’s business or get all whiny and passive-aggressive. For our part Mrs S and I handle confrontations without all the circumlocution and squirming West Coasters so often go in for. To us a spade is a spade, you use them to dig holes. Or hit people who won’t give you a straight answer. As people we are often direct, concise and to the point. Which makes us unpopular but what the hell. Did I say West coasters hate confrontation? The passive-aggression we occasionally meet is easily deflected by a flash of legal powers. The opposition might know their ‘rights’ but unfortunately for them, so do we.

Notwithstanding, another trip up and down the highway with a two night stay was booked so we could be there for our friends release from hospital into her residential home at the weekend. Then a phone call from the Care Home Manager. Why not from the Hospital? We’re the powers of Attorney, not him. She’s being sent home when? Today? Hells bells! Thanks for letting us know, you utter tossers. Change of booking. Thunder up Island highway again. Negotiate care instructions and agree with fortunately co-operative Manager of Residential home where elderly friend is resident. At least he appreciated our no-nonsense approach.

I’ll say this for this particular care home, it’s very nice, more like an upmarket hotel for Seniors than a UK pattern care facility. Elderly friend’s apartment is compact but more of a studio apartment plus bedroom. It’s roomier too with a full en-suite bathroom. The facility also has it’s own care unit for the less able, which is where elderly friend stayed until she retrieved all her marbles and got reassessed so she can go back to living more independently.

Additional problems arose when a couple of ‘relatives’ decided to turn up out of the blue and foist themselves on our elderly friend. Eating her food, using her facilities, which we, as her powers of attorney thought was a bit of a nerve. Especially when other family members far closer than we would not put them up. Which I found a little odd. When we asked why, no-one wanted to deal honestly. Mrs S and I found it quite comic listening to someone literally squirming on the other end of a phone line. Obviously no love lost there. It was a pity they couldn’t just be honest with us. “No, they’re an utter pain we don’t want as a house guest.” Would have been quite acceptable as a response, but no, we had to listen to fifteen minutes of ever more elaborate excuses. They had their own lives and wanted someone else to make the hard calls while the vultures descended.

My attitude to the vultures is simple; visit by all means, but pay your own way please. Elderly friend gets charged for having guests in her apartment, which even we as her legal guardians are refused access to. Another set of terse phone conversations were had with the care home. Veiled statements of legal intent were issued. Instructions were reiterated. If elderly friends recovery is threatened by these people, out they bloody well go. Do not pass go, do not dip your hand into her wallet. Elderly friend is supposed to be resting after a very life threatening illness, not in need of ‘cheering up’ or ‘taking out of herself’ by mindlessly well-intentioned freeloaders with their piggy little eyes on our old friends money. Have the common decency to wait until she’s dead, you greedy bastards.

That’s one thing about our part of the Sticker clan is our fierce loyalty to close friends. We look after our own and we like our friends alive thank you very much. Now sod off.

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