Saturday, 29 July 2006


We're having the same conversation over and over again, and each time I think I've won her over, she comes back the next day feeling just as bad and I have to start over. This started the day after my brother-in-law and my nieces left after a week's visit. She rang me and said immediately: "I've decided that I'm going to write J out of my will". [J is one of her grand-daughters]

I was stunned. When I questioned her, she told me that J had treated her badly during the stay. I asked what she meant by this and after much probing it came down to a look J gave Mum on the last day when Mum was trying to wake them up in time to leave. I was pretty scared by this - that something so trivial could now be the trigger to be written out of her will (after all, Mum and I have huge arguments every time I'm down there). I asked her what was it about this "look" that upset her and she started saying "I think that she thinks that I'm old and useless" and stuff like that. I stopped her there and said that it was dangerous to start putting words in people's mouths (or heads) and the look could have been anything - after all J was just waking up. After many attempts, the winning argument was for me to say, "well, if you took any one week of my childhood at age 10, I'm sure I'd have behaved much worse", which seemed to calm her down and amuse her. I thought we'd resolved it there but, like I say, she keeps coming back the next day with the idea fresh in her head. I'm also worried because it's not a good sign at all that she's using her will like that, vindictively. While I still oppose her writing my Sister out of the will, I can understand that she based THAT decision on M's adult behaviour. I CANNOT, however, support her judging a 10-year-old on the same adult basis. I'm genuinely worried for J - who is now going to be scrutinised next year before Mum makes her decision (that's all I seem to have achieved by my arguments). Well, hopefully by then she'll have forgotten all about the whole idea.

We had another ding-dong row this morning after we'd dealt with the above once again. This time it was over the following - amusing on it's own but SO indicative of how messed up Mum's thinking is:

"I've been looking at this Barnardo's thing that came through my door today"
"Mum, PLEASE don't send any more money off to charity"
"I'm NOT going to!"
"Good. Anyway, Dad gave to Barnardo's every month for years. I think they've had enough out of us."
"Did he? I never knew that!"
"Yes, it was one of the two charities he sent off to regularly."
"Anyway, it's all right if I leave some money in my will to them, isn't it?"
"How much were you thinking?"
"About £400"
"Well that's okay, I suppose, but remember that each time you change your will it costs you a couple of hundred"
"I'm not changing my will!"
"Er...I'm confused. You did say you were going to put the £400 in your will."
"Well it won't have to go in the will if I give it to them now, will it?"
"If I give them the £400 now then I don't have to put it in my will."
"So what you're saying is that you want to send £400 off to charity."
"Mum........." (and start again from the top)

It's very hard to argue with someone who forgets themselves so soon!

The above led to me reminding her of so many previous occasions where I've had to argue her out of making such large donations. She got very upset by the implication that she'd forgotten these previous conversations and did what she always does, which is to try and end the conversation there. This is how we end up never resolving anything - Mum has never lost an argument in her life because she's never there to hear the end of one.

I can see myself putting in another 10 or 20 years worrying about and looking after this woman only to find that she's written me out of her will for a sour look I gave her one day in 1986. I'm going to have a talk with her when I'm down South where I'll point out to her that if she continues in this way she'll have no-one that remembers her kindly when she's gone. I also wonder if there's some point at which we can "freeze" the will as being the last point where she was of sound mind. I've already written to Mum's Solicitor today with this in mind - she is more than sympathetic, having witness first-hand Mum's failing mental state.