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As I write this, my 83 year old Mama is dying and likely won't live to Monday, June 3, 2013.  She is in a facility and is being well cared for.  She is no longer speaking, drinking or eating, just sleeping with morphine.  We exchanged "I love you the muchest there is to love" and mutual "thank yous" yesterday.  

I am her primary caretaker and the past 7 months have been a roller-coaster.  No relatives in town.  She had lived independently up until November 11, 2012 when she had a fall at home and broke a rib.  She entered Assisted Living at her facility of choice on Friday, December 14, 2012.  We had lunch at her favorite spot and I drove her around while the movers set up her new space in 2 rooms.  We listened to Handel's Messiah on NPR and then they broke in with news of Sandy Hook and I turned the radio off.  It was an emotional day.  She didn't want to leave behind her home and her things.  Everything took a very rapid decline from December 14 forward.  

My life?  Well I'm a workers' compensation paralegal.  I've done both defense and claimant's work but the past 7 1/2 years I've spent helping those who are injured on the job.  It is a very stressful job under normal circumstances that requires 10+ hours of overtime per week just to keep up with the gerbil-on-the-wheel pace.  What follows below the squiggley is a personal account of what has transpired in the past year with my job and the past 7 months with my Mama.  Specifically, I will address how our society is predisposed to give dispensation to Mothers who are expecting vs. those of us who are seeing out and caring for our elderly parents in the last stages of their lives.  Babies are cuter. Before anyone gets their hackles up, I love babies and infants, although I have none of my own.  Our society has made a judgment that babies are more important than our elders.  I take issue with that.

Let me preface all that I'm about to write by saying that the law firm that employs me has less than 50 employees and is, therefore, not subject to ANY laws regarding FMLA.  Also, I live in a "Right to Work" State.  For the uninitiated "Right to Work" is an Orwellian term that means you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, shy of the biggies - race, sex or age discrimination.  Pursuing a suit on any of those fronts is an arduous and often expensive endeavor even with the help of the EEOC.  

A year ago my bosses purchased another law firm.  They took on their files, their office space, 1 lawyer and 2 staff members. There were growing pains.  Huge pains.  Our existing staff of 5 1/2 paralegals watched our work load almost triple.  Our firm had averaged 129 files per year in the 3 years preceding June 2012.  In 7 months we added 387 new to us clients/files.  This was in addition to the 51 files we had secured between January 2012 and June 15, 2012 and other existing active files from previous years. Our current NEW file count in 1 years time is approximately 480+.  

The files we inherited from the new firm were a gobbley-gook mess and the 2 staff members that were grandfathered in from the former firm did not know how to work the files in an efficient manner.  Messy files were taken away from them and given to the 5 1/2 of us to handle.  In other words, we added no real staff to a work load that tripled.

In November 2012, we lost an office manager to pregnancy-3 months paid leave from which she did not return.  In January 2013 the other bilingual paralegal left for paid maternity leave.  She also did not return.  This increased my work load even more as I am the only other individual in my office who speaks Spanish.  

In summary:  no real new staff, in fact we lost people; 5 people whose work load tripled beginning in June of 2012.  Almost every new file was accompanied by daily or near daily phone calls from the injured clients, some wonderful, some exceedingly bitchy and whiney. Full on chaos.  Since last Summer, 5 of us put our lives outside of the office on hold and began coming in at 7:00 a.m., working through lunch, and coming in for 4-6 hours per weekend just to try to get the work done.  I did the same until my Mama fell on November 11, 2012.  

Following her fall, Mama was hospitalized and it was clear I had to get her into a facility ASAP. There was no other family in town so it was all on me to do what had to be done. After moving into an Assisted Living facility on 12/14/12, my Mama's health took a quick decline.  After 3 weeks in assisted living before she was hospitalized again.  This time for severe edema.  This was early January and I was told to come get her toy poodle, Cherie.  This was in the midst of having to break down her home/possessions.  She was a sentimental, cleanly, and very well organized hoarder but lining up people to dismantle her life and having to sort through things that were family heirlooms, etc. well, that took time away from work.  I was so busy doing FOR her, I didn't have the time to spend with her and I'm still trying to show up at work and not fall off the wheel.  All the while, I kept both of my bosses apprised of what was going on and begged them NOT to give me any messy inherited files from the former law firm which they had purchased.

On January 31, 2013, I had finished vacating my Mama's former rental home.  No small task.  On the same day,  I was told by the Assisted Living facility that I needed to move my Mama's things out of her 2 BR Assisted Living apartment as she was not making progress and was now in the medical ward.  She had quit eating.  I watched her decline to Gandhi weight.  Still trying to stay on the wheel at work.  Relatives came and went to visit, say good-bye, etc. - took a couple days off from work to be with them and Mama.  By mid-February, she was "officially" in hospice care.  I was told she had 1-6 months to live.  By this time, I had moved her things 4 x and had held her hand during 2 hospitalizations.   I was so exhausted emotionally and physically that I was no longer capable of working through lunch or putting additional time in on the weekends.  When your Mama is dying and your job is to listen to people in pain all day-well, it was vampire blood-letting.

After Mama became ill, everything became about "staying on the wheel" for her, for work and for the dogs. In addition to my caretaker duties for my Mama and my job which had tripled, I went from having 1 dog to 2 additional dogs.  A stray that had meandered into my life just before she fell in November and Mama's toy poodle.  3 dogs and a Mama.   Dog Vet appointments came and went.  Gotta stay on the wheel.  My bestie dog Buddy of 12 years, was slowing down but I attributed that to arthritis and figured dying Mama vs. doggie arthritis - Buddy would have to wait.  Stay on the wheel.

In mid to late March I got a brief respite.  Mama was eating again, brightening up.  She got out of hospice and started P.T. again.  She was still unhappy and lonely but physically getting better.  I took a deep breath, and started trying to attend to my long neglected needs - doctor's appointments, etc., vet appointments etc.  and STAY ON THE WHEEL at work.  

In mid-April all hell broke lose.  Finally got Buddy to the vet and it turned out my sweetheart didn't have arthritis.  He had an inoperable tumor in his mouth.  His days were numbered. I didn't know it yet, but so were my Mama's.

After brief progress in P.T., Mama developed a 4+ UTI with blood.  She had never had a UTI her entire life.  The facility bungled her care SOOOOOOOOOOOOO that I considered sueing them. Although I've worked for lawyers my entire life, I'm NOT a litigious person.  This facility advertised on NPR and all about town as "A Caring Community."  That was lipstick on a pig.  Turns out the $ spent on marketing was not spent on actual care. There had been many mangled things before the UTI but they demonstratively showed such a LACK of caring that once I commanded their off-site doctor to write her a script for an ambulance and got her to the hospital, I let the facility know she would not be coming back. This was April 30th. The ER diagnosed her with a touch of pneumonia, dehydration and a horrid UTI.  She was admitted for 4 days and I returned to work the following day STILL TRYING TO STAY ON THE WHEEL.

Upon her discharge, I had to move her to a new facility and had only 1 weekday to figure that out. Translation - more time missed from work.  This was early May-5 moves and 3 hospitalizations, STILL TRYING TO STAY ON THE WHEEL but it's difficult to do your job when you're not there to do it.

This diary was initially drafted on May 31, 2013.  Today's date is July 6, 2013. A lot has changed in that time.  My BFF dog, Buddy, was euthanized on May 24, 2013.  On June 2, 2013, my Mama passed away from pneumonia.  Her memorial service was held on June 14, 2013.  Instead of 3 dogs and a Mama, it's just 2 dogs and me.

I took an unpaid leave of absence beginning May 14, 2013 to care for my Mama and with a doctor's recommendation that I take some time off because I was beyond burnt out.  I ended up in the ER on May 7 because I thought I was having a heart attack.  Well, my heart and lungs are was "just" stress.  A triple work load, 3 dogs, caretaking my Mother through 5 moves and at that time her flirtation with death in February.  My dog was actively dying, I thought I was near dead from exhaustion, and little did I know my Mama would be dead in a short 2+ weeks.

Less than a week after I took this approved unpaid leave of absence, my boss called me.  He told me, "At this time in your life with your Mom and everything, well, you just have too much going on."  "You've done some good work for me in the past, but I think it is time for you to hang up your cleats and move on to something else".  (Keep in mind, this is a firm that represents injured workers and is ostensibly all about workers' rights).  He proceeds to tell me, "Take all the time you need off, but when you come back, you're going to train Ashley (the 21 y.o) and you will need to look for another job.  Ashley, the 21 y.o. had worked for us in a full-time but limited capacity since January.  She knows absolutely nothing about workers' compensation.  My response was, "Uh, hum, okay"...because at the time my Mama was still declining and I could not formulate a better response.  In a bright spot of Karma, Ashley announced on Facebook the night she was offered my job that she was pregnant.  As stated earlier, young pregnant women in my office go out on paid maternity leave and NEVER look back).  

Because I am very good at what I do under normal circumstances, and because I built up some good will and loyalty with a former boss, now a judge, my current boss had his ass kicked at a lawyer's cocktail function.  He realized he stepped in a big old pile of age discrimination, and called me to say "You misunderstood".  "You are a valued member of this family and you can take all the time you need to look for another job."  "In fact, I'm going to hire someone to help you find a job".   So now my dog is dead.  My Mama is dead.  My job is to train a young girl who will leave when her baby comes in January - with FULLY paid time off for 3 mos maternity leave, do MY job and look for a job with hired oversight from my boss.  He waited 2 weeks and put the "job coach" on me.  

If the personal narrative above sounds "victimy" to you, check yourself before you respond.  The personal IS POLITICAL and I will tell you I did a great job until my Mama took ill.  I will also tell you that "blaming the victim" is Reagan thinking.  

One of my coworkers, very hard working, broke a company policy and disclosed to me her salary.  30K for a job that demands 50-60 hrs a week. She is being paid slave wages.  SLAVE wages.  Like a Mitt Romney wet dream she all but has a cot in the office.  I, on the other hand, am the highest paid employee.  I have the most experience and I'm bilingual.  Everything was hunky dory until our work load triplicated and I could not triplicate myself in return to do the job, take care of my Mother and 3 dogs.  

Now I am supposed to be thankful that my boss, who is all about his cocktail party image, is "keeping me on with no time limit" until I find another job.  Excuse me while I barf on this supposed patronage.  My boss is pushing 60 and is less and less interested in actually working and, increasingly "addle-pated".  Age discrimination from him to me?  I laugh and say projection.

I don't feel old.  I am in my early 50s and look 10 years younger than my age.  But the stark reality is I am supposed to be thankful to still have a job although my performance only fell off because of lawyer incompentent business management "skills" and because my Mother fell ill at the same time they decided to be greedy.  Perfect storm.

Last night I saw a woman about my Mama's age - early 80s or so - out on the street in the heat begging.  Begging.  The rich want their $ and at the same time turn a blind eye to human suffering.  They don't connect the dots between their tax breaks and the human beings on the streets.  They blame the victim.  Zero empathy. They OWN "the death panels".  There is real death in those "death panels". For all the Republican embroyo love posturing, they do not care about life.   Our society doesn't respect the elderly.  Infants are cuter.  We are all crabs in the bucket now unless we band together and start fighting back.  

I put my Mama first.  I lost my job.  I had no choice but to do what I did and if I had it to do over again, I would've made the same choice.  The consequences are unfair but you only get 1 Mama.  

Originally posted to Dixiedemocrat on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 03:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (119+ / 0-)

    "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

    by Dixiedemocrat on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 03:46:45 PM PDT

  •  i am so sorry for your losses. (29+ / 0-)

    i lost my 14 year old golden retriever april 22 and my 80 yer old mother may 1.  i know your sorrow.  i can not imagine your horror at losing your job too.  my heart goes out to you.

  •  Diary drafted on 5-31. (22+ / 0-)

    My Mama died on June 2, 2013.  That crucial update is included in the narrative.  

    "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

    by Dixiedemocrat on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 04:04:41 PM PDT

  •  You did the right thing (22+ / 0-)

    for your mother and for Buddy. You were there for them. Now it's time to take care of yourself.

    I'm sorry for your recent losses and wish you all the best.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 04:09:30 PM PDT

  •  The personal is absolutely political (19+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting how it's come down on you - I hate that it happened to you this way, but I appreciate your letting others know.

    Blessings in the midst of so much effort and loss.  Obviously, your capacity and effort and organizational skills are valuable - I pray you find someone who will use them wisely and kindly and pay you accordingly.

    The Grieving Room here is a great support group.

    "This is the best bad idea we have by far..." ~Argo

    by MsGrin on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 04:13:21 PM PDT

  •  Thank you all for condolences. (22+ / 0-)

    MsGrin - Love your tag line.   I would not wish the past 7 months of my life on anyone including my ignorant boss who has a sister caretaking for his elderly parents while his wife cares for his Mother-In-Law.  

    The personal IS political.  I'm not looking for sympathy here but definitely wanted to put my .2 cents in on what I have seen the past few months.  My office is ostensibly all about "workers' rights"...but in reality, nah, not so much.  More about greed and "be thankful you have a job".  BTW my boss voted for Obama 2x.  He joins other workers' comp. lawyers to legislate in D.C.  

    I'm angry.  There is a lot I left out of this diary re: ageism.  

    "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

    by Dixiedemocrat on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 04:28:23 PM PDT

    •  There is a LOT in your life which brings emotion (9+ / 0-)

      Of course you're angry - you've been a superhuman and things stink a lot worse than you possibly could deserve.  And such a loss takes time to process.

      I've been through a lot of periods which have been similarly frustrating and I get it.  

      There's a book I really recommend when things are this nonsensical and impossible:  Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

      Find ways to honor yourself.  In time, you'll have earned some 'valuable' perspective (yeah, that sounds laughable right now!).  This kind of education is extremely expensive (and pretty much never voluntary).  I do believe that in time you will feel enriched by the ways you find to survive what's been thrust at you (no credit to the bastards who put it on you, however).

      "This is the best bad idea we have by far..." ~Argo

      by MsGrin on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 05:50:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for the book recommendation. (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dvalkure, SuWho, MsGrin, dksbook, LSophia, jbsoul

        I'll check it out.  Another book I'm looking into is Eve Ensler's latest, "In the Body of the World".  The brief review I read here REALLY spoke to me.  The book is about her journey with ovarian cancer.  What spoke to me is the tone of her writing.  She does not see herself as a victim and actually has some humorous insights about her situation.  One of the quotes is "There is only Infinite Past+The Moment+Infinite Future".   She delves into our human fears of pain and suffering and death without coming across as "poor, poor, pitiful me".   That's kind of where I am re: my own situation.  My life may look like a bad country song from someone looking outside in, but I see the big picture of what's going on in this country.  I see the lessons for us all.  I am not alone. Many of us live our lives ignoring the fact that death holds life's hand all along our way.  What matters is how we live the time we have-the moment.  

        "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

        by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 06:55:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My Mama had a pension & Medicare (32+ / 0-)

    Seeing the elderly woman on the street last night begging broke my heart.  I saw her and I saw greed.  I saw her and I saw tax cuts for the rich.  I saw her and I saw sequestration.  I saw her and I saw the evils of greed.  Current policy in this country is starving and killing actual human beings.  I don't know what the tipping point will be but it needs to happen and soon.  People are suffering and dying and will continue to suffer and die.  

    I will more likely than not land on my feet but I'm disgusted by the callous indifference and greed I see everywhere.  

    "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

    by Dixiedemocrat on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 04:36:47 PM PDT

    •  . (7+ / 0-)

      I see all those things you mention all the time.  I cannot recall any legislation passed in the last 20 years or more, that truly serve the best interests of the nation.

      Lately, for some reason, I have been thinking of the $6 trillion plus (minimum $600 billion a year)  that has been spent on military/defense and war shit since 9/11/2001.  What a waste of money on an objective that can never be won (war on 'terror')

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 06:33:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You and I understand each other (3+ / 0-)

        No mistaking that 9/11/01 was a tragedy.  3,000 people lost their lives.  I remember, however, being mystified at the whole declaration of war on "terrorists".  I thought then and think now that singular moment was a declaration to the world that war from here on out would be waged perpetually.  The word "terrorist" itself is quite subjective.  If a terrorist is a "chaos creator", then I would argue terrorism is as old as prostitution.   I liken our response to 911 as dropping an anvil on a gnat.

        I am anti-War.  Always have been.  The misery.  The loss of many lives, not just in the "war zones", but the misuse of SO much money that has ruined this economy resulting in misery here,  and loss of life to suicide and poverty.  People are not "collateral damage".  

        "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

        by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:08:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  indeed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          40,000 people die in auto accidents every year, 800,000 die from cancer every year in the US alone ... but somehow $6 plus trillion spent on the war of terror is justifiable over the last decade because 3,000 died on that tragic day.

          I don't expect the dollar to remain a viable currency much longer though history has shown that politicians will inflict as much suffering on the populace to protect the status quo and their financial backers as is necessary (ie: Greece and Spain) till they cannot any longer because no one has confidence in their currency any longer (euro is controlled by ECB not the nations' themselves so sovereignty has been forfeited).

          War is used as a cover-up for the failings of a political system to adhere to sound policy.  The Weimar hyperinflation of Germany (1921-1923) destroyed the savings of huge swaths of the German population and, IMHO, radicalized the population.. we know what resulted from that.  The Versailles Treaty signing after Germany's defeat in WWI and mandated war reparations led directly to the hyperinflation of the day:

          1919: 12 Deutsche marks = 1 oz silver  (end of WWI)
          1923:  543,750,000,000 deutsche marks = 1 oz silver

          I would love to be wrong about it all but hiding an unraveling quadrillion dollar derivatives ponzi scheme behind electronic currencies doesn't give me any confidence.  History says war and suffering seem to be ultimate result of out-of-control money spending and fail eventually and always.

          "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

          by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 12:45:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I lost a friend to suicide in May 2009 (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jbsoul, Zack from the SFV, marina

            He was a high level financial consultant for BOA.  Not a low level economist, he had also worked for the Federal Reserve.  He was a wonderful, warm, human being.  When the s***t hit the fan in September of 2008, he was employed by BOA.  He wrote himself out of the job - willfully - shortly thereafter.  He told me inside stories that would make you shudder.  We used to call our exchanges "The State of the Nation in the Belly of the Beast".  

            To my mind, my friend lost his life to war.  Had it not been for our over-the-top reaction to 9/11, I am convinced the melt down of September 2008 would not have occurred.  The war machine is just that - a machine.  The $ spent has resulted in the death and suffering of SO many.  My dear friend among them.  

            Something that impacted me deeply was the uncovering of an internal Citibank memo to its shareholders in 2005 in which the COOs basically prophesied what is now common wisdom re: the impact of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on global finances and the prediction that we were headed to a world of a global 1%.  This was 2005.  OWS did not come into its own until 2011.  

            Perpetural War is a recipe for disaster.

            "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

            by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 01:40:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I am sorry for your loss. (8+ / 0-)

    What an awful time. When my father became ill and died, it was the most awful time for me, but I had my sisters. I don't know how I would have gotten through it without them.

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by JamieG from Md on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 05:13:10 PM PDT

    •  Thank you JamieG from Md (7+ / 0-)

      It was tough and I wish my brothers had lived here and had helped.  There are many sons who take care of their elderly parents but more often than not it falls on the daughter or daughters.  One of the 1st internal resentments I had to get over was that simple fact.  I don't believe by nature of the fact that I was born with a vagina and not a penis that that makes me a better caregiver.  I have a HUGE heart and I did the best I could for my Mama but I made it up as I went along.  I had purposefully chosen years ago not to have children.  Just didn't feel that pull.  My "Mothering" experience up until the time my Mama needed my mothering was limited to a number of cats and dogs over the course of my life.  

      I still feel our society needs to take a hard look at what it means to be "pro-life".   Children ARE important but so are our elderly.  I applaud employers that give new Mothers and Fathers time with their infant.  It is necessary.  I simply believe that equal time and consideration should be given to those, male or female, who are tasked with taking care of their aging parent.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:20:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree that leave should be available for (3+ / 0-)

        the care of any close family member whether it be a new child or an elderly parent.
        However, your firm's 3 month paid maternity/paternity leave is pretty damn unusual. I worked for a good organization that gave 6 weeks paid maternity/paternity leave and lots of my friends were amazed and envious that I got that. Most people get, at most, unpaid leave and are allowed (sometimes) to use accrued sick leave when they have a new child. Some places only give maternity leave and only for a biological child.
        So my view is that paid leave should to be available to anyone with a legitimate family event, whether it be the wonderful advent of a new birth, adoption of a child, or the sad circumstances of serious illness or dying of a close family member. Small businesses (real small businesses, not numerically low numbers of employees but wildly high income ones) can't afford this, but there could be a government program like flood insurance, but required of everyone, that paid for all of us to be able to get this leave when we needed it.
        You shouldn't have had to worry about work and income while you were dealing with so much difficulty and sorrow. None of us should.

        While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

        by Tamar on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 12:39:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I would rec this (0+ / 0-)

        if I hadn't come back to the diary too late.

        I agree with you 100%.

        Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

        by JamieG from Md on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 08:41:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You've had a hell of a time. (18+ / 0-)

    Yo've also done your best...and much better than many. With your skills and experience, you'll certainly land on your feet and you'll also be able to look back without regret.

    So sorry about Buddy...that was a cruel blow at a bad time.

    My wife and I have cared for three aging/dying parents and have one left, 92, that we're trying to keep independent and well.  Many in our age group are doing the same and it's clear that having a life and providing this level of care is incompatible.  But, that's the way it is.  Who can afford the cost of assisted living or skilled nursing?  Not many...or not for long periods for sure.

    The elderly poor, or elderly without resources to cover extensive medical care, are screwed in America.  To my knowledge based on recent stats on net worth of people in various age groups, thats most everyone..old or not.

    And it's getting worse.  

    The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. - Dante Alighieri

    by Persiflage on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 06:11:42 PM PDT

    •  It's going to get much, much worse as cuts are (9+ / 0-)

      made to Medicaid in the states refusing the Medicaid expansion. I wonder if people in the "middle class" will start to catch on when they can't find a nursing home for their aging parents that will take them for free after they've spent down all their own assets. People in their 40s and 50s better start saving for a hospital bed for their living room, a bedside potty, a roll around tray table, etc. What? They can't see their 50" TV through all that? Too bad.

      •  That's true... (4+ / 0-)

        What's interesting is that the GOP must think only liberals use medicaid...or it's only liberals who take advantage of unemployment benefits...and so on.

        As the chickens come home to roost, the GOP is going to find they've alienated everyone who isn't rich regardless of party.

        It's going to be a rough road but they're eventually going to realize they've poisoned themselves.

        Me...we took out insurance for such care years ago.  It isn't cheap, but I figure 20 years of premiums is less than the cost of 6 months in a nursing home...or 6 months of home assistance.  

        The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. - Dante Alighieri

        by Persiflage on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 06:43:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not to rain on your parade (0+ / 0-)

          But a future payoff on your insurance is contingent on the continued existence and financial health of your insurance company. Which makes money to payoff claims by investing. In global markets.

          Yep. Even the best prepared can suddenly find themselves in a sinking boat.

    •  Most of our elderly ARE screwed. (12+ / 0-)

      What I witnessed in the 2 facilities tasked with my Mother's care, well the first place was abominable AND expensive.  The 2nd facility was night and day better and Medicare paid for most of my Mom's care.  

      The reality is though that even if you are as "fortunate" as my Mama was to have a monthly pension, Social Security, Medicare and great health insurance as 2nd payer - it doesn't really matter.  First, everyone is out for the Senior's $.  Some facilities take all of the resident's resources upfront with a promise to "care" for the resident for the remainder of his/her life.  

      Senior care is ungodly expensive.  I was writing checks for $7,000 to $8,000 per month.  CNAs are paid not much more than people flipping burgers at McDonald's.  Some of them are wonderful people who truly love the elderly, others are collecting a paycheck and still others are burned out or abusive or both.   It comes down to values.  We don't value our elderly.  If we did, we would pay those charged with their care a living wage.  The CNAs are on the front line.  They deserve a living wage.   Until that happens, we are simply "warehousing" our loved ones.  

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:30:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  {{{{Dixiedemocrat}}}} (12+ / 0-)

    Take care of you...

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 06:16:07 PM PDT

  •  {{{{{Dixiedemocrat}}}}}} (9+ / 0-)

    blessings and condolences.  

    Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

    by FindingMyVoice on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 06:46:33 PM PDT

    •  Thank you. (6+ / 0-)

      I'm actually doing pretty well all things considered.  I don't think I'm in shock re: Buddy and my Mama and I'm certainly not in denial that they are both gone.  Grief takes time to process and not enough time has passed yet.  It takes awhile to fully understand "absence" of the best dog and best Mama in the universe.   I am truly blessed to have had their wonderful presence in my life and for that I am extremely grateful.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:37:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that is good to hear - yes, life is all about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        changes & adjustments & occasional curve balls headed right at our skulls, isn't it?  Got the kid raised & launched back in 2000, I think there was one year of peace & quiet, then the parental generation started crumbling away.  Every year there was some major crisis; nursing home & Medicaid applications, and every year was another funeral, some expected and some out of the blue.  But it's how things go, eh?  I'm lucky that I have wonderful siblings & have built up savings over the years so that I could manage for a while before Social Security kicks in.  

        thanks for writing - I know your story is all too common.  The workplace is much less forgiving than it was even 10 years ago, especially to older workers and older worker's family issues.  

        Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

        by FindingMyVoice on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 03:26:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've had 1 other patch of trouble in my life (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbsoul, FindingMyVoice

          1998 was the year.  I affectionately refer to it now as "The Year of Job" , (as in the Biblical character), aka the year you wished trouble only came in 3s.  Well, that year taught me a lot.  After doing A LOT of reading from Anna Quynn re: domestic violence and Elie Wiesel's Night series.....I was humbled.  Up until 1998 I had had a great life.  When trouble hit, I immediately went into victimhood.  On New Years Eve 1998 I stayed in and made a list of all my troubles - BIG and extraneous.  By the time I finished the list I started laughing.  No one would believe it!  It was then I realized that trouble comes to us all and that I had been blessed to have had a pretty easy ride up until that point.  Also I learned that anger and sadness are flip sides of the same coin.  Don't lose your sense of humor.

          1998 was a good education for the past 7 months of my life.  While I have had days where I'm royally pissed off about my employment situation, the other side of me says "don't be spoiled".  It's a toxic environment and you are being set free.  Free.  I feel stronger.  I honored my Mama, my dog and my heart.  I would not have done it differently.  The consequences force me to tap in to my inner resources and mine is a resilient spirit.  It's Phoenix time.

          "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

          by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 03:57:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rise from the ashes, again and again! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Amen, sister, amen.

            Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

            by FindingMyVoice on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 06:40:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  We lost 17 in 18 months. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Between my spouse and me, in 18 months we lost 17 people in our family and close circle, including my dad, both of spouse's parents, two grandparents, an uncle, a boss, two coworkers, a neighbor's child, etc. etc. etc.

            We were in charge of caregiving on two coasts.

            Most phone calls were about funerals, hospitalizations, ambulances, nursing crises, medication crises, etc.

            Spouse and I are both oldest children, and it landed on us  practically, logistically, and financially. No one else could "deal with it" and so they just became scarce.

            At some point, you just start to break down. We both have lingering affects from it all. Catatonic for quite some time after that. PTSD equivalent.

            As soon as we came back to life a bit we both quit our stressful jobs before they could fire us. Being fired might have been the emotional straw that broke the camels' backs. We've not gone back to those careers since. It meant a financial hit I'm not sure we've really been able to afford, but at least we're still alive.


            •  VA gentlewoman (0+ / 0-)

              How horrifying!!!  I certainly understand on some level the "catatonic/anedonia" and PTSD.  

              I also understand looking at the world with new lenses as a result of the experience.  I can't speak for you, but it REALLY drove home to me that TIME is precious.   Why stay in a job that is stressful and that brings you no joy at the end of the day?  

              I hope that you and your husband, despite the financial hit, are happier now than you've ever been.    I think there is something to be said in this day and time for choosing to slow down and live your heart - assuming you have that luxury.  Love and peace to you VA gentlewoman.

              "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

              by Dixiedemocrat on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 03:28:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

                We're just tired, and feeling older than we might have had it not hot so hard and all at once.

                For awhile, it really made almost anything having to do with living seem like a bad joke. But we certainly did learn to cherish the people who were left.

                •  I feel like I'm coming off the spin cycle. (0+ / 0-)

                  As you WELL know, when you're "IN" it, time seems to speed up as you run willy-nilly from one thing to the other because you have to do it.  

                  "For awhile, it really made almost anything having to do with living seem like a bad joke."  THIS.  I get this.  

                  It felt like living in some sort of parallel universe while everyone around you continued on with their seemingly mundane concerns.

                  "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

                  by Dixiedemocrat on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 03:17:51 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  I am so sorry (5+ / 0-)

    For your mother's loss and your job troubles. I hope something better turns up workwise.

    Having said that ... I don't think mothers and babies are treated any better than the elderly either.

    •  I think a lot of lip service (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuWho, dksbook, jbsoul, Zack from the SFV

      is given to "family values".   A budget is a morality tale.  Working Mothers with babies are often given the short end of the stick.  My heart goes out to the working poor who have mouths to feed at home.  With that said, I still feel that as a society we pay more lip service and more funding is available to children then to the aging.  Older folks are often invisible in this culture.  

      I'm simply saying that ALL life is valuable.  ALL life is precious and worthy of respect.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 09:00:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  FMLA may not help (9+ / 0-)

    because it is very unflexible.  My spouse signed up for FMLA because he wanted to be available to help me get to and through  physical therapy after an operation.  He took none, because I had a turn for the worse that prevented my doing therapy for a couple of months (we paid OOP for a caregiver during that time).  When I was finally signed up for therapy, he was told that his FMLA period had expired (because he had signed up, even though he didn't actually take any leave.

    So he was out his eligibility for FMLA for something like a two year period and I was left without PT.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 07:21:31 PM PDT

    •  THAT sucks. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuWho, dksbook, jbsoul, marina

      In caring for my Mom I learned there are similar time constraints/rules  re: eligibility for hospice care and remaining eligible to going back to have Medicare become primary payer.  Mom's P.T. was very similar.  Medicare would only pick up the tab -1 if she participated - which is understandable and 2- if she made progress.  

      Navigating the system is arduous as you are simultaneously learning all these crazy rules while trying to care for a loved one to make sure he/she doesn't fall through the cracks physically AND financially.  

      As you and your husband learned - it is difficult to plan or prepare for the unpredictable.  None of us can control situations which by their nature are fluid.

      Hope you are doing better barbwires.  Thank you for your comment.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:45:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  FMLA (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuWho, dksbook, yellowdogsal, marina

      FMLA is not as unflexible as your experience might lead you to believe.  I wonder if you might wish to consult an employment attorney because your comment about your husband's eligibility for FMLA is not consistent with the law.

      Eligibility for FMLA is not the same as actual use of time under FMLA.  I do not know what paperwork your husband completed or if he took any time off at all that was considered FMLA (workers comp time runs concurrently with FMLA) that would have impacted the apparent response from the company.  But his company's application of FMLA as described is weird.

      If he took time off, even if it was not for PT but to assist with your care, then that would be on the FMLA clock.  

      BUT whatever time is taken is reset in a year, that is, for anyone eligible, the eligibility for FMLA protected time off resets after 365 days has past for the first day time was taken, then 365 days for the second day, then 365 for the 3rd day, etc, a rolling reset by day for each FLMA day or hour taken.  So he should not have to wait for two years to reapply for use of FMLA protection.  

      And to be clear, FMLA is not paid time off, the law is simply a job protection act, it prohibits employers from firing or demoting or punishing employees who take off time to care for themselves or others as described under the law - precisely what the diarist is writing about.  She lost her job for taking time off to care for her mother, because her company is less than 50 employees, and not required to offer FMLA protected time off.

      Best wishes for your good health.  

      "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of the United States of America -9.75 -6.87

      by Uncle Moji on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 09:11:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And btw you have my best wishes for healing (7+ / 0-)

    and best for finding another job.  Unfortunately this is where age discrimination stinks full time.

    If you have the skill, try getting a job as a freelance; a lot of law offices are desparate for people with good organizational skills.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 07:26:58 PM PDT

  •  in the workplace, married people are more (11+ / 0-)

    deserving than single people...and it is evidenced in many ways.  Ready understanding when time off is requested to attend to family matters.  No harm-no foul when a parent comes to work late or needs to go home early for whatever reason.

    When single people approach the boss and ask for those same favors, it has been my experience that the requests are greeted with a much lower level of understanding, compassion, concern or willingness to make adjustments.

    Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

    by Keith930 on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 07:57:52 PM PDT

    •  That's certainly the truth. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dvalkure, SuWho, Zack from the SFV

      It is easier to navigate difficult situations in this world if you have family/spouse someone at home to provide you with emotional and other support when it is needed.   I have a great family of friends and an understanding boyfriend but I pretty much dealt with Mama alone.   All in all though, I think most people are self-interested.  Most of us can't "walk a mile in someone's shoes" unless we've actually been IN those shoes.  

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:53:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, and I'm about (4+ / 0-)

      done with all the sympathy re: having children.  My former boss took her second maternity leave [I had been on the job full time about 2 months and part-time 4 months], and that left me doing a large amount of audit work that would have never gotten done, including one of the biggest audits in the company [I had already done the biggest audit in the company earlier in the year].  When she returned, all she did was complain.

      At another place, I was specifically told that a co-worker didn't need to work extra hours because "she's married."  Mrs. Married was involved in those conversations and had a quite pleased expression on her face, knowing that she could take it easy while I was putting in 60 hour weeks.

      The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

      by dfarrah on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 02:27:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not right dfarrah. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, marina

        I very much realized how my past life choices -single, no children, effected my options the past 7 months.  I hear ya.

        "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

        by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 03:59:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I feel some of your pain (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina, Dixiedemocrat

             I am the single childfree son in my family so I am turning into the main caregiver. I have one older brother, no sisters. I also work seasonally so now I am in my unemployed part of the year except for taking care of my folks. My father is 96 and my mother is 87. She has more mental slippage issues while he is still mostly sharp but this year age is quickly catching up to him in his physical health. The hardest parts for me so far is dealing with the change in our relationship where now I am almost like a parent to my mom. I worry about what will happen when my dad dies because he still does a lot for her, though not as much physically anymore.

               The one thing I have not had to do is worry about my job; I am a seasonal tax preparer with an established clientele; it would not be in my employer's interests to get rid of me, but it may be stressful when I have to work less because of caregiving next tax season. They never have enough good preparers so I should be OK.

                Although my brother and his wife have not been a lot of help I feel like I have a support system because I have some friends who are dealing with similar situations. The biggest thing I am trying to develop is more patience, especially with my mother. It is not always easy.

                Thank you for writing about your experience. My thoughts are with you.

          Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 54, new CA-30

          by Zack from the SFV on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 06:18:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is a poignant diary. I'm sorry for all your (12+ / 0-)

    losses of the past year. It is hard to imagine that you could have done anything differently, though certainly your employer does not come across well.

    Age/illness discrimination is real, and family care is part of that. It's unfortunate that the employers who are "supposed" to get it often don't, exploiting their workers (as in the case of your colleague who is paid merely $30K for enormous hours of skilled labor) and dismissing them at the first excuse. I myself lost my job working for a union when I became ill with cancer two years ago. They called me while I was hospitalized with a bad reaction to chemo--just as my medical leave was ending--to tell me not to come back to work.

    Do take as good care of yourself as possible. You've been through a lot, and sometimes it takes a toll belatedly. With luck, your next position will be much better than this one. It's their loss in the end.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 08:28:22 PM PDT

    •  Thank you peregrine kate. (7+ / 0-)

      WOW.  Sorry for YOUR loss!!!  You certainly understand on a cellular level exactly what this diary is about.  

      What disturbs me is I have seen a shift in this country where it has been made abundantly clear that workers are no longer valued as people.  Workers are disposible "collateral damage" when/if it adversely impacts the employer's bottom line.  It's a new spirit of GREED.  I don't think my employer is unique at all.  It's just ironic that my employer's business is about protecting workers' rights.  

      It's unfortunate but a War on Workers is being waged and legislated all around our country.  I will say my employers are in the business of trying to fight some egregious pro-business legislation but it is an uphill battle that makes their jobs and by extension their employee's jobs very, very difficult.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 08:01:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, unfortunately, workers are now fungible (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dixiedemocrat, dksbook, LSophia, jbsoul, marina

        in ways and at levels that didn't used to be affected.
        It was never good, I hasten to add, that anyone was treated that way. Guess it demonstrates the validity of the adage that basically says, you're next! if you don't stick up for the rights of the most lowly among us.

        Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

        by peregrine kate on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 08:13:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  condolences on your losses (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dixiedemocrat, LSophia

    it's wonderful that you cared for your Mama so well.... as far as work goes.... you are Skilled.... I don't know the population size of your home town but you'd get hired quickly and could expect a higher salary in a big urban area where your skills would be in high demand;

    No country can completely leave behind its history or forget its tragedies nor should they. But countries can choose to put their futures first and act for the well-being of generations to come. ~ Joe Biden

    by anyname on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 09:04:20 PM PDT

  •  Someone here hire this person! (7+ / 0-)

    My wish for you is that you get work..well paid work in a firm that treats you well--so quickly that you "sadly" do not have time to train your replacement.

    I think it is evil to require employees who are being let go or fired to train their replacements.

  •  First, I'm so sorry for you losing your mom and (7+ / 0-)

    a much-loved pet (who I'm sure was a comfort to you even when he was on his way) in so short a time.  Peace to you.

    Second, your current boss is a MIGHTY ASS!!!!!  I worked in a legal department for 6 years, for about 12+ lawyers and they were always compassionate to the staff - birth, death, illness, surgery, hot flashes, what have you. I'm sorry you have run afoul of some sick-souled people.

    I'm sorry you are being run off of a job you have been at so many years, and I hope that you find a job that's better, with people who appreciate you and your skills.  From your description of what you have been doing, it sounds as if you are valuable out in the rest of the world - sometimes we get so beaten down at our current job, we come to believe that we are not valuable or worthy at all (I speak from bitter experience).  I also speak from the experience of being valued at my next 2 jobs, and the self-confidence and healing that has brought me.

    I hope that you make the best use of the "job coach" and "all the time you need", and get a better job you feel valued and respected at - a tall order in this day and age, in Corporate America, but it happens sometimes, and I truly hope it happens for you.

    Peace and blessings on you.

    Thank you, President Obama and Vice President Biden!

    by SueM1121 on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 10:08:31 PM PDT

  •  recovery/renewal time (6+ / 0-)

    My heart truly goes out to you. I had a similar experience when my Mom was dying and had no one but me to take care of her. Lost my job too. No one can know the costs of this unless they've been there. They are immense.  I hope you can find the space and time now, to rest and renew so you can stay well and then got on with whatever new adventures are waiting. You are due for a GOOD job with people who don't exploit you and appreciate you as a valuable person.  Hugs.

    When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. Cree Prophecy

    by scribe on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 10:22:46 PM PDT

    •  Oh Scribe. (8+ / 0-)

      Thank you for your kind words.  You are right.  People don't get it unless they've been through it.  I'm sorry that you had the same experience.  I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  I VERY much appreciate your thoughts re: recovery/renewal time.  I feel my "Phoenix" self strongly.  I will get beyond this and be better for the lessons learned.  

      I'm seriously giving thought to abandoning corporate America and striking out on my own in a new business venture that makes my heart sing.  I call it my "Joseph Campbell" dream.  I've never given myself full throttle to my dreams.  Perhaps now is the time.  I believe my destiny is seeking me as much as I am seeking it.  Now may be the time to open my heart and contribute my talents to others.  The money will come.  BTW, my Mama before she died actually made me promise I would pursue this dream.  I told her I would.  I'd hate to break a promise to my Mother.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 08:21:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  there you go! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        I'm seriously giving thought to abandoning corporate America and striking out on my own in a new business venture that makes my heart sing.
        Put the pedal to the metal and GO FOR IT, GIRL! Things that make the heart sing need to have their turn if we're to become all of who we are!

        I can tell you this: theres no amount of money that could ever take the place of following ones heart, and experiencing this!
        The five years I spend directing a theater project for people with disabilities (after a whole lifetime of caring for the sick) were absolutely, incredibly joyful. I had so many talents and skills I didn't even know I had!  

        You need to listen to your Mama: she knew who you are, and if it works out the way it did for me, she'll be right there with you, cheering you on!

        When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. Cree Prophecy

        by scribe on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 02:46:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am so sorry (2+ / 0-)

    for the loss of your mother and for the horrendous stress you've endured.  I hope you take some time, rest up, get some of your mojo back, and that the coach is helpful.

    You sound like a fantastic employee. Can your former supervisor, the judge, help you find work?

    •  Thanks LSophia. (4+ / 0-)

      Actually yes, my former boss has already written a wonderful letter of recommendation.  He is also keeping me in mind for any job openings in his venue.  

      I am not a job hopper.  In the past 24 years I've had 2 jobs.  Most of that time was spent with my former boss.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 08:23:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mr. Scribe was able to use (3+ / 0-)

    FMLA to help with care issues for his mother after his father died back in 2010; being in a job with a strong union willing to go to bat for him if anyone in management bitched was probably a big reason. (Only issue we had was early on when he didn't realize he needed to check in every few days.)

    Condolences on your losses.

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 11:01:05 PM PDT

  •  minor error (5+ / 0-)
    For the uninitiated "Right to Work" is an Orwellian term that means you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, shy of the biggies - race, sex or age discrimination.
    This is "at-will employment". "Right to work" means that you have the right to not join a union. The two usually, but not always, go together.

    Chechnya: Russia's North Carolina.

    by NE2 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 01:29:21 AM PDT

  •  Don't mean to seem heartless, but the (5+ / 0-)

    culture of obedience is about compliance. Babies are an opportunity to impose compliance, with old people compliance drops off. Even when they are unaware of it, most people act out of self-interest, mistaken or not. That's why the seven deadly sins are called deadly; they are self-defeating.

    Your problems started when a compliant staff took on a trippled work load without objection. Somebody needed to be told 'no.' It may seem ironic, but the denizens of the party of no obstruct because obstruction is all they understand. As they say in the old country, "if you give them the little finger, they'll take the whole hand."

    There is no reason why you should train your replacement. Start looking for a new job while you are still employed because the firm's owners obviously have little interest in serving their clients well.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 01:37:20 AM PDT

    •  I concur hannah. (6+ / 0-)

      Culture of obedience/compliance.  Perfectly put.  The toxic part of it is to a person - the staff is miserable and carps consistently about the work environment.  However, it plays out as "put the sunshiney face on" when the bosses are around, and bitch incessently about the lack of respect behind their backs.   Toxic.  Most of the staff has a non-healthy coping mechanism to get through the daily hell be it alcohol, marijuana or anti-depressants.  The entire situation is quite sad.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 08:30:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Best hopes for better days. nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dixiedemocrat, Mayfly
  •  so much of your experience reminds me of mine, but (10+ / 0-)

    I was protected by the Family Leave Act and a unionized faculty.

    I was English Department Head in January 2006 when my 83 year old mom had a stroke that paralyzed her right side. I tried to continue to work and look after Mom and three dogs, but I had to throw in the towel and turn over my duties and my classes to others who stepped up for me.

    For the next three years, Mom lived with me and I was her caregiver. It was a wonderful but extremely stressful time--wrapping up our loose ends as mother and daughter and people, and taking care of her needs while teaching. But the stress was alleviated tremendously by knowing that my job was secure. I cannot imagine how hard this has been for you. And you are right: this is so wrong.

    I feel for you. I've been there. Nine months after Mom died, I had to have her wonderful old dog euthanized and as Mom was nearing death, my own dog became ill with a mysterious condition that the vets never could properly diagnose. She died the following year. The next year I lost an aunt and the following my much-loved uncle, who had been like a father to me. Boom boom boom....

    So I completely understand. I know the feeling of being stuck in a place of devastating loss upon loss. And loss for an active caregiver is sharper because those at the center of our daily lives are suddenly vanished. It is a time of heart-break. (And I, too, thought I was having a heart attack at the time.)

    It does pass. Everyday life gradually becomes less painful and the flashbacks of illness and death are replaced by kinder memories of those we loved....But you're in hell a while before then. I remember I was pissed off and sad for the longest time. I didn't know before then how much anger is part of grief.

    And god knows you have plenty to be angry about. I'm glad you wrote this. I hope it's picked up and circulated widely so that it finds some of those employers and citizens who stupidly embrace "right to work" and shames them.

    Take care. Be patient with yourself as you go through this process of grieving.... And give 'em hell.

    "This is a center-left country. Democrats can act that way and win. In fact, they must." -- Markos

    by cassandraX on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 04:24:10 AM PDT

    •  OMG cassandraX (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dksbook, Mayfly, jbsoul, marina

      You've LIVED this!!!  I know you know of what I speak and that is extremely comforting.  I'm actually in the process of putting this experience on paper.  Working title of the book is "Three Dogs and a Mama".  

      I don't want my book to come across as a "victim memoir".  I prefer to see it as a true story about love, loss and aging in a society that increasingly values $ over people.  A budget is a morality tale.  So many people fear their own death and thus fear aging but the reality is we will all get old, or not, but we will all die.  

      While not shared here, there have been many, many absurd and humorous moments in the past 7 months.  That has kept me going.  The humor and the invaluable lessons I learned about love, life, aging and dying - well, that's what I'm aiming for thematically in telling my tale or "tails"!   My Mama's dog and the stray have really provided me with great comfort and joy through this process.  I am so blessed to have had Buddy and my Mama in my life.  They both were enthusiastic lovers of life.  Their spirit guides me on.  

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 08:41:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just saw your Flanner O'Connor sig line (3+ / 0-)

    Love it. Love her.

    Btw, I'm Southern, too.

    "This is a center-left country. Democrats can act that way and win. In fact, they must." -- Markos

    by cassandraX on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 04:28:23 AM PDT

  •  What a heart-wrenching story. (4+ / 0-)

    So very sorry for your losses.  You have held up very well.  The problems you faced are shared by so many but are painful, nonetheless.  Bless you and may your road get easier. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:40:37 AM PDT

  •  I'm terribly sorry to hear of your mom (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 07:51:17 AM PDT

  •  Your boss is an ass (5+ / 0-)

    and you deserve better.  

    I am sorry for the loss of your mother and your dog.  So very sorry.  

    "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of the United States of America -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 09:12:58 AM PDT

  •  Godde bless you. (3+ / 0-)

    I hope when I am declining, my kids take as good care of me as you have done for your mom.  At 65, with cancer (incurable but quite manageable), and a living and reasonably healthy spouse (fingers crossed), I find my thoughts turning more and more toward my end-of-life care.  Ideally, I would fly to Switzerland (in my dreams, first class) and be humanely put down while looking out the window at the mountains; but the reality is probably going to look a lot more like your mom's.  I only hope it is sans angst for my kids.  I think a lot about how to avoid my kids having to deal with me while they try to work, care for themselves and their families, deal with their own problems like loss of work, unplanned pregnancies, debilitating illness and loss of beloved animal companions.  I also worry about the loneliness and the slipping away of control over my life, including my shit and piss.

    Your excellent diary has given me an opportunity to put into word my own feeling about end-of-life issues.  Thank you.

    •  A lot of end of life issues have entered my psyche (6+ / 0-)

      Bluntly, watching my sweet Buddy pass on with a compassionate injection, I couldn't help but think why such an option is not available to the elderly or terminally ill in this country?  I couldn't help but think it.  Buddy went over the rainbow bridge on May 24.  I've always seen dogs in particular as special emissaries to teach us about unconditional love.  If God is about unconditional love, then dogs are certainly a large part of that collective love energy in the afterlife.

      While relieving Buddy of his earthly suffering, I did have some instinctive gut feeling that Mama would not be long to follow.  She died of pneumonia.  The staff could no longer give her plain water or any plain liquids without this "thickener" because she had dysphagia - liquids were going straight into her lungs.  When presented with the thickeners as her "new normal", my Mama's response was "Nah, I don't think so."   At this point her options were limited.  I believe she took one look at her 95 y.o. skeletal roommate who was also not interested in thickened liquids or food for that matter, and just said "no".  

      Mama had a living will and I was charged with her Medical Power of Attorney.  When her doctor called me, same day Buddy died, and told me that death was imminent sans a feeding tube, which she had specifically committed to in writing as NOT wanting, I knew then she would not last long.   The "no thickened water" was lifted as an order once it was decided to "keep her comfortable".   That's when tiny sips of water and oral sponge swabs came into play.  

      During what turned out to be our final goodbyes, among the I love yous and thank yous, my Mama kept saying she was sorry.  I told her there was nothing to be sorry about.  She was never a burden to me.  It was my privilege to be trusted with her care.  I'm just telling you dksbook, that many of our elders die of starvation/dehydration.  The doctors will tell you that a sense of euphoria enters in after a few days w/o food/water, but I have a hard time believing that.  

      I've given thought for myself to Switzerland but that is a hard call for any one of us to make and deeply personal.  I did find myself admiring Kevorkian and seeing his work in new light.

      I lost a sister at 17 to Hodgkins Disease.  dksbook, I am glad you are doing well and sincerely wish you recovery, peace and all my love.  

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 12:24:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dear, dear Dixiedem, (4+ / 0-)

        Thank you so much for your kind and affirming comments.

        Please be reassured that I am again my old self, or very close to that person.  It only took 8 mo. of chemo, steroids (which I hated worse than the chemo), lots of hospital time in the cancer ward, and a heroic spouse. (The only problem is that it never occurred to him to change the sheets or to keep the dog off the sofa and off the human food.)

        It kills me that most Americans don't have access to the care I got.  My gratitude is tempered by my rage that so many people, old and young, have to beg for food and wait in 8 hour lines to see a doctor at a public clinic, if one is available.

        Your comments about starvation/dehydration resonated with me.  It will be hard for my kids when I get to that point.  But I am with your mom.  No thickened shit, no intubation, nothing but sweet goodbyes will be allowed.  Thanks so much for clarifying that for me.

        Your diary will probably help a lot of people think about and talk about such issues, as well as the issue of asshole employers who think they are so fucking progressive because they give to PBS.  Excuse my French.

      •  Most people know nothing about death (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharoney, marina, Dixiedemocrat

        Most people know nothing at all about the actual process of dying. Hospice organizations have booklets that describe the physical process, but for our first couple of experiences with it we were dealing with a hospital. What a nightmare. Missing doctors, missing doctors' orders, snippy nurses, dominatrix nurses, insistent chaplains, in one case a real horror show involving multiple ambulance trips in and out of the hospital multiple times. One family member entered assisted nursing care because other family members were worried she'd fall. (I suggested home care/companion but I was ignored.) First night in assisted living, she fell, because she couldn't find the new bathroom arrangement. The fall led to infection, infection led to stroke, she within a week choked to death tied to her bed. The Worst: a family member was drawing their last breaths and no one bothered to tell us as we were shoved outside the door of the room "for privacy" while they CHANGED THE SHEETS!

        The three or four hospice program death experiences were tough in their own way, but much more humane and personal. The hospice personnel cared took a holistic approach and everything was calmer, better medicated, and dignified for the patients and the family members.

  •  Thank you Diary Rescue Rangers. (5+ / 0-)

    I'm humbled and grateful for your action.  Sorry I couldn't babysit my diary last night.  I was out celebrating Frida Kahlo's birthday shortly after I published this.  Life does continue. I do appreciate all the comments and the rescue.

    "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

    by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 12:30:43 PM PDT

  •  I was with my Mama in her final moments. (7+ / 0-)

    I brought her precious toy poodle with me and put her paw on Mama's hand and wished her well into the infinite beyond.   My Mama lost HER Mama at the age of 4.  She lost my sister at the age of 17 to cancer.  She lost my Daddy in 1998.  Her poodle and I wished her well and encouraged her to go on and see all those waiting for her.  I also asked her to pet Buddy on the head for me.  She passed about 5 minutes later.  I am SO grateful to have had that conversation with my Mama.  It was a sincere blessing.  Hearing is the last sense to go.  She had a loving and heartfelt send off.  I'll never forget it.  It has comforted me deeply.

    "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

    by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 12:40:30 PM PDT

    •  I can so relate to this: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, Dixiedemocrat
      I was so busy doing FOR her, I didn't have the time to spend with her
      For four months I traveled 90 minutes each way three times a week to assist at my sibling's house when she took my frail father in during his final illness. Unfortunately, she let her two dogs shit and piss all over her filthy house and flies from her horse barn come in and settle on my dear sweet father's face and mouth because she was too fucking lazy to keep the door to her house shut when she was at home. During every visit, I spent hours cleaning her house, esp. her kitchen and the bathroom in his sickroom, because it turned my stomach to see the filth she let build up there.

      She also was behind on her bills so instead of keeping her house warm enough to keep him from shivering she forbade me to turn the thermostat up and instead piled blankets on his bed and turned a cheap space heater on him.

      Even though he was immunity-compromised from his chemo, I wasn't even allowed to wash his soiled sheets in hot water because she didn't want to run up the electric bill. I also had to field calls from bill collectors while I was there.

      The worst moment was when the VNA nurse told me that she was considering designating him an "elder at risk" and having him pulled and put in a nursing home because of my sister's shitty care and refusal to cooperate with even the most reasonable requests (keeping the door locked--he was on heavy painkillers and there had been a rash of break-ins in the neighborhood) refusal to keep a working cellphone on her person in case of emergencies; and worst of all, her refusal to let me debrief after taking him to chemo so she'd know what was going on with him. When she found out about the VNA nurse's comments, guess which messenger was shot?

      I was so busy coping with all this--taking him to his doctors' appointments (two or three times a week, for four solid months) cleaning her filthy house, cleaning up after her fucking huge dogs and two exotic birds, getting his meds and trying to find something in her kitchen that was palatable enough to cook him for dinner (she can't cook, never shopped, not even to get the few foods he liked--and ate takeout every night and fed him that, too) that I never had a chance to just sit with him and talk to him before he was too sick to converse.

      But SHE had the chance, though, because I had already tended to his basic necessities while she was at her job an hour away. I would get ready to leave, write her a report on what the docs told me that day, and just as I was going out the door she'd waltz in from the back yard where she had cooled her heels after coming home from work so she wouldn't have to deal with me.

      As I drove away in the dark I would see her sitting by his bedside stroking his hand and talking soothingly to him and I'd cry tears of helplessness and rage all the way home.

      Once he was gone, the nearly full prescription of Oxycontin he had been on was "disposed" of by her. Since she had been on Vicodin until her shrink cut her off I can guess where the remaining 60 tablets ended up after he died.

      Frosting on the cake? She embezzled over $4000 from the estate for concert tix, daily coffee fixes, dog toys and her own bills before dividing up what was left as executor (so named because she had "such a good head for business).

      I will never forgive her.

      Caring for an aging parent is never easy. The system makes it worse. And being trapped in a situation where all you have time for is performing basic care for someone you love dearly is the worst. You have my complete sympathy, Dixiedemocrat.

      "The truth will set you free...but first it'll piss you off." - Gloria Steinem

      by Sharoney on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 10:30:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Old age is not for sissies!" That's for sure. We (4+ / 0-)

    need a better system--because caring for old-age parents is not for sissies, either.  As an old-age parent myself--I am trying to work out some systems to help my younger generation when I become dependent.

    I helped my dear Mother-in-Law, a lovely woman and my inspiration on growing old gracefully--but she was a recipient of FDR's New Deal legislation.  I'm afraid my kid will be stuck with much less help when/if I become dependent.  Makes one wish for a graceful earlier death,

    The right of the women of this State to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches shall not be violated by the State legislature.

    by Mayfly on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 06:26:01 PM PDT

  •  Bless you for your caring heart (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Your burdens have been extreme.
    Please take care of yourself.
    You are your Number One Project now.

  •  You must be an amazing person to put up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with all that bullshit and still take care of your beloved animal companions and your poor mom. I am so sorry for your loss, and I am sorry that people have not valued you, the way you--all workers deserve.

    I truly hope that your life gets immensely better.

    •  Thank you GreenMother. (0+ / 0-)

      My life WILL get immensely better.  I have a new found confidence in myself now.  Hate cliches but there's something to that "what fails to kill you makes you stronger".  Having said that, I would not wish the past 7 months of my life on anyone.  That in and of itself - the sincerity of that statement from my heart - has helped soften the rough edges of my anger over the job situation.  No use rolling around in the "that's not fair" mud.  Too easy to get stuck there.  

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 03:39:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not amazing. (0+ / 0-)

      I look for the best in everyone.   I forgive because I've learned that holding onto anger just poisons yourself.

      "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

      by Dixiedemocrat on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 07:36:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree. In this day and age, people like you (0+ / 0-)

        are amazing.

         I don't need hollywood magic to convince me of another's worth.

        Keep being yourself and Doing good in the world. And I will still personally perceive that as amazing.

        •  Awww, thanks. (0+ / 0-)

          I have a big heart and a bigger mouth.  I will land on my feet but I'm done with the "new normal" of corporate America.  I love hard, I laugh a lot and what is going on in this country is BEYOND disturbing.  I'm dusting off and putting on my activist shoes.  I won't go silently.  I will go down fighting our current culture of boot-licking.

          "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." - Flannery O'Conner

          by Dixiedemocrat on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 12:15:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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