Tuesday, 28 April 2009

spare me your charity

A couple of weeks back, our relative D rang. She and her Husband are briefly back in the country from one of their long trips (I think this one was South Africa again). Anyway, they'd been over to see Mum and D had noticed that Mum's wardrobe was pretty depleted. I told her that I was well aware of the situation and that I'd bought clothes for Mum at Christmas which had also quickly wandered.

"Well that's not good enough, Greg! Just not good enough!" she said.

I told her that I knew the Home would always dress Mum and that, at the moment, it didn't seem a good idea for me to go and spend any more money on clothes when I was really struggling to make Mum's monthly payments just to keep her there. Mum's pension income falls short of her Care payment by about £600 per month. I've successfully applied for a Government allowance that covers a little more of the ground but there's still a shortfall and, until I've sold Mum's old apartment we're down to our last couple of thousand pounds.

D absorbed this and said, "Well, what if I were to buy your Mum some clothes?"

I told her that I'd be very grateful because we could use the help and, particularly since she would have a better idea of what to look for in skirts etc. I thanked her over and over for her generosity.

D rang me today to say that she was heading back to see Mum on Sunday and that she'd been shopping. She listed a few items that all sounded good. She kept mentioning how much she'd spent (£107) and how well she'd done to get this or that discount. It's no coincidence, I thought to myself, that the wealthy have a zest for a bargain. Finally, she told me that she'd bought some perfume for Mum, too, and said "I mean I bought it - that's from me."

I got a sinking feeling.

She asked me how I planned to "settle up" with her for the clothes.

[pause for breath]

I'm lucky it was a relatively small amount, I suppose. I counted to 5 in my head and told her that I'd send her a cheque right away and I asked her please NOT to buy any more stuff for Mum as neither Mum nor I can really afford it.

I'm thinking of writing a parable where someone's "help" ends up putting the benefactee out onto the street.


Sorata said...

I wonder how the mis-communication went wrong there. It seems that you were clear about the clothing issue and that you would rather not get anything for the time being. ARRGH!

I'm sure she has a good heart and stuff, but I can't stop getting a bit angry about it. Why insist to help if you count every penny?


Greg said...

I understood her offer to mean she was going to buy some clothes for Mum herself - i.e. pay for them. Turns out not. I guess I should have known [sigh]

citygirl said...

Ugh!! What a situation! Thank G*D she didn't go blowing hundreds & hundreds. How awkward too.

Good for you to count to 5 and try to shut further things like this down.

I know my mom's clothing used to go "wandering" also and it really t-ed me off because you would want to buy nice stuff for her but then it would end up "lost", with bleach spots or in poor condition. It's like sending a kid to camp!

I used to hide some really good clothes for special occassions so I knew she had at least something really nice to wear when needed.

Greg said...

Thank you, that's a great practical tip. I'll try and do that and have a "Quick, Relatives are visiting!" wardrobe tucked away!