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Chapter Nineteen
Blood is Thicker Than Water
(Thursday continued...)

"[Jerome's] heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will."
~ Proverbs 21:1 ~

The afternoon had went so well for Chuck, that Vera ventured to suggest that they all go down and visit Arnold at Mullen-Overholt.

"After all," reasoned Vera, "Charlie has been in Twin Yucca all of two days and she still hasn't visited her grandpa."

"I know," replied Chuck.

"And while we're on the subject, you haven't visited your father yet, either!"

"I saw him the night I arrived," reminded Chuck.

"That was not a real visit," responded Vera, wiping the kitchen table with a damp cloth.

"I guess," replied Chuck, slowly. He wasn't eager to see his father in the deteriorated state that eighteen years worth of Alzheimer's had left him in.

"You act as though you don't want to see him!" observed Vera.

"I do, Mom," refuted Chuck. "It's just hard seeing him that way."

"What do you think it does to me?" exclaimed Vera, tossing the cloth into the sink. "I've been taking care of him for eighteen years! Don't you think it's hard for me to watch him fade away, bit by bit, until there's nothing left of the man I once knew?"

Chuck apologized to his mother. He wondered if Charlie was ready to see her grandfather. It was true that she knew he had this illness, but Chuck didn't think she was really aware of what was going to happen to him. In a way, he wanted her to remain untouched by the harsh reality of Alzheimer's, but Chuck knew that it would be impossible to shield her from it. Then he remembered Dr. Estrada's sage advice: "The unknown always frightens us. Truth is important because it helps us to understand the inevitable, and arms us with the facts to prepare for it." When Chuck told his Mom that he and Charlie would go see Arnold that afternoon, Vera was delighted.

A tornado is a funnel-shaped cloud that descends on land, creating havoc and destruction in its wake. Places that we thought could never change, suddenly transform into martian-like landscapes. Alzheimer's is a kind of tornado. We suddenly find ourselves faced with decisions that we never would have thought probable-- never, in a million years. And never in a million years would we have thought of actually making that decision. He didn't know it yet, but today, Chuck would be faced with such a decision.

It all began early that Thursday morning, in Jerome's office at Mullen-Overholt Nursing Home, with the unexpected arrival of a FedEx parcel containing Chuck's financial records and personal papers. Inside was a note from Chuck's former landlady, explaining that the papers and enclosed items were accidentally left behind in the apartment when Chuck had moved out. (Chuck had given her Mullen-Overholt as a forwarding address, for he was uncertain exactly where his brother lived.)

Being the older brother, Jerome automatically assumed the responsibility of handling Chuck's financial affairs. There was no hidden motive on Jerome's part, other than to expedite things as quickly as possible. He had been through this before with his father, so Jerome knew the paces. However experienced he thought he was, the older brother was unprepared to see the disarray of Chuck's financial status. He wondered how Chuck had managed to function with such a slipshod way of paying bills and spending money.

Jerome remembered how his father, who, even before being diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's at the age of fifty-two, had displayed symptoms of being incapable of taking care of the family finances entirely by himself. Arnold would not listen to anyone. He simply refused to believe that he was no longer able to do something he had always been able to do before. Jerome groaned at the memory of the many fights he and his "stubborn as a mule" father had over money. Arnold would often become so angry that his face grew alarmingly red. The fact that history seemed to be repeating itself was almost more than Jerome could take.

continued on next page...
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