Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Who Guards the Guardians? Part One

They paid their tab at the Waffle House and put the plan in motion. Phil and John Bradley guided their mother, Rosamond, to the back seat of Phil’s car, and John took the seat beside her. Driving through the familiar North Dallas streets, it wasn’t long before Rosamond realized they weren’t headed to her home.

“What are you doing?” she asked. It was John who answered, “We’re taking you to Lubbock.”

Though Rosamond protested the whole way, her sons didn’t know what else to do. It was March 2009, and at 73 she insisted on living alone, hours away from them. Sometimes she didn’t take her medication; sometimes she took too much. Phil had been awakened one night recently by a call from the Dallas police. She’d smashed her bathroom window and alarmed the neighbors with her screaming, an incident that landed her in a psychiatric hospital for six weeks.

When they arrived at Rosamond’s new home at an Alzheimer’s care center, she refused to leave the car. According to notes in her medical record, she “did exhibit some aggressive behavior.” Rosamond recalls, “I struggled and kicked John where I shouldn’t have.” A Lubbock psychiatrist described Rosamond as “expressive/noisy,” “hyperactive” and “anxious/suspicious,” noting that she exhibited “bipolar disorder, psychosis and delusions.”

“It was terrible,” Phil recalls. “There were times that she couldn’t feed herself. She would do group therapy and it was just an absolute disaster.” Still, she kept demanding to go home. So, in late April, Phil filed a request in county court for authority over his mother’s affairs. Lubbock County Judge Tom Head reviewed the doctors’ reports and appointed Lubbock attorney David Kerby to advocate on Rosamond’s behalf. Rosamond says she never met the lawyer, who did not return the Observer’s calls. Without Rosamond present, which is common in guardianship cases, Head found her legally incapacitated. Phil won the right to decide where his mother lived, who she saw and how she spent her money, even if she objected — which she did, vehemently.

Judge Tom Head
Rosamond says she was so heavily medicated that she spent much of her time in a fog. She couldn’t leave the nursing home without supervision, and only heard after the fact that her sons had sold her Cadillac and begun moving furniture out of her house. She began to see the move as a ploy by her sons to access her money, and she felt helpless. “I had no contact with anybody,” she recalls. “It was like being all alone.”


Betty said...

This is one of the best exposes I've seen on the problem. Thank you Texas Observer. Your hard work and heart shine brightly in this piece.

Anonymous said...