Ch.81 Pat Tells Us that She is in Charge

Ch.81 Pat Tells Us that She is in Charge

March 2021

          Pat’s brother Kevin died almost two weeks ago. Kevin lived in the old family home that he and Pat co-owned. Now the property belongs to Pat. It’s hers to keep or sell.

          Unfortunately, Kevin was a hoarder. Every room in the house is filled with clutter, mostly junk like dozens of take-home foam coffee cups, thousands of pieces of mail, broken gadgets, etc. There are also kernels of important items like Kevin’s will, an entire set of flooring materials, money, family pictures, and the like scattered amongst the chaff. We’re talking hundreds of hours of house cleaning and repair to make the place presentable, much less salable. We’ve already begun that task; it’s one of those “the more you do the more you realize you need to do” situations.

          One more detail: the house sits on a riverbank high above the beautiful St. Croix River, making it a prized commodity. It would sell quickly, as is, even with all the clutter, to some wealthy person who could tear down the house and rebuild on its “footprint.”

          Last Sunday, we were discussing what to do about the house on our weekly family zoom session when Pat broke in, to state firmly that “I am in charge.” I think she means two things: 1) Pat will make the final decision on whether to sell it immediately or keep it in the family for a few more years; 2) She wants to be consulted before we throw things away or make repairs.

          My first emotional reaction to Pat’s statement was annoyance. We always work as a couple, don’t we? Why now are you saying “I” when you could say “We” will decide what to do? Also, it will slow down the cleaning process significantly if people have to run every “keep or throw” decision by her. It would be better if Pat could just trust each of her family members to make reasonable decisions on their own.

          My second emotional reaction was joy. Over the last three years Lewy Body has stolen some of Pat’s energy and left her listless. Pat has also told me that she frequently feels she isn’t contributing to the world because of her physical limitations. But now she is claiming her right to make a significant decision about keeping or selling the house as well as the right to orchestrate the cleanup process. I can hear Oprah Winfrey in the background chanting “Go for it, girl, go for it.” Don’t let others make decisions for you. Be strong. Stay involved. Take responsibility.

          I can live with that.


Pat’s comments on “I’m in Charge.”

          I don’t think everyone in the family can make reasonable decisions about keeping or throwing away things.

          I know the first thing I mentioned was the problem with the curtains in the living room and nobody even looked at them. I have some ideas about how to fix them.

          I say “I” because if I say “we” then everybody thinks they have the main say. If there are important decisions to be made, I should be part of that.

          There are pieces of furniture that people have talked about saving or keeping, and mostly I agree, but they need to run it by me.