Our post about our father generated a lot of interest and many people have requested an update as to how he is doing. Honey Bunch and I are genuinely touched by your concern.
Our three brothers flew down to visit our dad and had quite an interesting adventure. From One-Son constantly losing our dad's dentures (he is 51, so his forgetfulness can be excused. Have you tried Gingko Billy Ray?), to their discovery of our dad's home having been robbed by the hillbilly losers who live nearby. Here is there email update they sent to the rest of us.
South Carolina is cold and rainy and we got an early start. One Son got the earliest start because when setting his cell phone he compensated for the time zone change AFTER his cell phone had already changed to Eastern time. He was downstairs drinking coffee at 5:00 AM before he realized Brother Bobbo and Brother Lee wouldn't even be getting up for another hour.
We planned to drive to the trailer, give it a quick once over, grab the TV and VCR and move them to dad's room. Then get the Power of Attorney signed and drive back to Hamer. Brother One Son would sign on to dad's bank accounts, Bobbo would get dad's car running, and Brother Lee would scour the trailer for important, sentimental or valuable stuff.
We drove the 40 minutes to the Hamer homestead first thing, arriving about 8:30 AM.
THE TRAILER I
The trailer had been broken into. No surprise. The front door lock had been punched out and the padlock pried loose. The interior had been totally ransacked. Chairs turned over, bed torn apart, food and random junk and clothes strewn about. Even the refrigerator had been pulled away from the wall and walked toward the front door before the white trash decided stealing it was too much work. They had literally torn open dad's briefcase, leaving only his Bible and a copy of the World Wide Church of God hymnal.
The TV and VCR had been stolen, along with two space heaters, a boom box, and god only knows what other fenceable/pawnable stuff. We did find dad's glasses and his teeth. Dad's 1994 Cutlass Ciera started up, but needed some fluids.
Dad: "Did you find my teeth?"
Bobbo: "We have good news and bad news. We found your teeth but One Son put them down and didn't remember to pick them up again." Brother Lee: "We have a new Quelf rule: If Billy puts them down he has to announce: 'I no longer have dad's teeth!'. He has to keep saying it until he picks them up again." (Dad should have his teeth back, safe and warm and wet in his mouth tomorrow)
Because dad's roommate had recently died, his TV left with him. Dad's comment was, "They stole that TV. It couldn't have been his. He was an invalid." Dad really missed the TV, so on the way back to the nursing home we stopped into Walmart and bought him a new 20" digital set which got a really great picture! With rabbit ears!
While Brother Bobbo and Brother Lee set up the TV, One Son and dad got the Power of Attorney signed and notarized. On the way back to his room, dad had the nurse stop his wheelchair at the nurses station for drink. The nurses were all, "Hi, Mr. Stephens! How are you? Are those your boys? Are those your new glasses? Where they been, did those boys hide them from you?"
One Son said, "It was the only way we could think of to keep him out of trouble." The nurses all giggled. Dad replied, "Look at me. What more trouble could I be in?" The nurses giggled some more.
We showed dad his new TV and he started flipping through the channels. We gave him the sweater mom had mailed him a couple months earlier (it had been forwarded to One Son), and a digital picture frame/clock/calendar for his room. We also instructed the Social Services director to please replace all the door and drawer labels in dad's room with new labels that spell dad's name correctly. Mr. Stephens, not Mr. Stevens. Then we hit the road again for Hamer.
Chic-fil-a take-out. Three number one combos with a Coke. Nuff said.
THE TRAILER II
The trailer is a total disaster. Holes in the floor covered by plywood covered by carpet covered by more carpet covered by food and old clothes. No heat, water or electricity. Holes in the doors, held shut by chains. Everything filthy. Everything scattered everywhere. The house smells of pickles.
Boxes of crap everywhere. 300 or more VCR tapes of movies he recorded. 100 tapes of church sermons and special bulletins. Cold and damp. A gallon of moonshine on a cupboard. Food and dirty dishes scattered among the old clothes books and church pamphlets. We found two suitcases packed with nice clean clothes. Presumably planning to go to the Feast before deciding he was not up to it.
There was ground steak, a jar of mushrooms, some onions on the floor. Dinner that never got cooked. We also sifted though the shed. It had been broken into also, but was cleaner, dryer and warmer than the trailer. He had started wiring it for electricity. We wondered whether he was going to open up a new business office, or was planning to move into it to live.
Brother Lee and Bobbo searched the trailer and shed. We found an Isramco stock certificate, the missing teeth, checkbook, a walking stick, a bunch of photos and letters, a 1951 issue of Sport magazine, a dead bird, lots of random tools and copier parts. The letters are particularly interesting.
The Cutlass had no brakes - but once filled with brake fluid, it would stop if you pushed the pedal all the way to the floor, then tried to push it through the firewall. It had no coolant but we filled it up. The trunk was dry but dirty, and the lock worked - a vast improvement over the previous vehicle.
Bobbo filled the fluids, cleaned the interior, put air in the tires. We put most of the salvageable clothes, memories and random stuff into the trunk and locked it up.
We drove the car to Edna's for overnight. Friday Bobbo'll call a repair shop and get a price for fixing the breaks. If it can be fixed cheaply enough, we'll repair it and let mom drive it while she's down here. We'll keep it at Edna's for the short term.
One Son filed POA with the county. Went to the bank and got himself signed on to dad's checking account. Cancelled the debit card. Confirmed that dad had not cashed a large check in the previous three months, so the thieves probably didn't get more than a few dollars cash.
Then One Son asked to use the bathroom. Everybody in the bank stopped what they were doing and stared at the teller.
"I'm sorry, the bathroom isn't for public use," the teller said. Everybody turned to stare at Billy. "That's okay. I'm not the public. I'm a customer."
Everybody turned to stare at the teller.
"We don't usually do this, but okay. Here's the key." Everybody stared at them both as they walked across the bank floor. "Well," One Son said. "I won't tell anyone if you won't."
AUNT EDNA (pictured right. Bobbo, Edna, One Son and Big Mama)
We met mom at Edna's, and took her out for a bite at the Dry Dock for some fish soup, fried oysters and hush puppies with tails - and why wouldn't they have tails? Then back to the hotel.
We ate dinner and drank beers and told stories til past midnight.
ONE A.M. We wrote this update before going to bed.
One Son called the county Sheriff and told them about the break-in and list of stolen property. He spoke with Lt.Smith (sounded like a young woman) who knew dad: she had gone out to check on him when we (H.B or Sassy?) called. Said he was a nice man.She was literally offended that we didn't think to call her officeand ask them to look in on the trailer when we learned he was in thehospital. And she was incensed that we didn't make a police reportthe minute we saw the place had been broken into. I admitted we wereidiots and she was, "Well, okay then. I wish your dad the best.".
Mom saw dad today and said he looked awesome. He was sitting up, had his teeth in and had gotten his hair cut. He was alert and happy. The nurses even stopped her as she was going by to tell her about his progress.
They have gotten him off almost all of his mood altering medication. He is eating better, they don't have to thicken the liquids as much and he even fed himself some. And he has been standing up and even took a few steps in physical therapy. He can even lift his left leg!
Mom said that we wouldn't recognize the progress from what we say that was less than two weeks ago. He still forgets and has his tremors but it sounds like good progress. This man a few months ago was given less than 6 months to live and now with his progress we are all hopeful that he is on his way to being able to return to Michigan. We'll be sure to keep you all updated.