Promise Unfulfilled; ‘Guardian’ Leads to Isolation

“The consensus of other family members that I have spoken with is that Mom will get her original photos when she leaves your premises because you have estranged yourself from the family.”

–  Bryce Hesterman, October 2013

By RuthAnn Hogue/Whiptail Publishing

Naomi Hesterman tries on jewelry

Naomi Hesterman tries on jewelry chosen to wear at Misti Hogue’s April 19 wedding to Darren Gibbs.

It’s been a month. More than a month, actually, since my mother, Naomi Hesterman, moved into a group home where she could be attended to 24/7, seven days a week. It was not done without much prior effort nor without much anguish on that day and for months preceding that day when we officially changed my mother’s residence to Medisys Assisted Living Home in Casa Grande, Ariz.

Leading up to this day were countless hours spent researching the Arizona Long Term Care Heath System and filling out the required paperwork, interviews and more so my mother could qualify. Without financial assistance, the meager funds she received from the sale of her home in 2012 would have never lasted beyond a few months of care. The only viable option was to spend it down on things she needed. And there were many. From dental work to a bath bench, hand rails to a mattress pads including one with a chiller and a chilling pillow to match and countless orders of Dominos pizza, mom enjoyed new clothing, art supplies, books, video tapes and more.

It was all part of helping to make her not only happy and safe in what was then the present, but to be eligible for future needed care.

One thing her money could not buy, however, was the return of her treasured family photo album. What was supposed to be a short-term loan of all of the memories contained in the pages inside of its gold-colored cover soon turned into a weapon in my mother’s eldest child’s never-ending battle to control her daily life. The return of the book, borrowed in January 2012, was denied for the last time in October 2013 when Bryce Hesterman of Redmond, Wash., declared that she would never again possess the book until she left my home for good.

It shouldn’t take a decorated electrical engineer with advanced education and training to understand why her medical care givers recommended that she have access to artifacts to help her cement her rapidly fleeting life memories. I suppose that living with her daily gave the advantage of insight to the likes of me, a recovering journalist and professional hosting services and small business consultant.

Without those treasured pages, Naomi Hesterman had little to look at. Nothing to remind herself of the lives of her children except a few framed family photos and a portrait of each of her children as teens or young adults. Maybe that is why she cannot remember much from 1956 to 2004. Images of those grown children with their children flashed on a digital picture frame, but Mom rarely recognized anyone, including her beloved Bryce.

It’s sad, really. No photo book could completely halt what is happening inside her brain. But it could have helped. A lot.

Perhaps it’s not too late.

So here’s my final plea:

Bryce, in the name of all that’s holy, please find it in your heart to give Mom her photos. It’s too late for anyone to sit with her regularly and help her recall the names of the faces she will see or attach dates to them or decipher locations.

Why? You’ve made it all too clear that you prefer Mom live in isolation in the group home without the opportunity to visit with those of us who live nearby. You’ve already made the group home a hostile environment and turned Mom into the likes of a library book to be checked in and out to those who are on the “reserve collection” list including yourself and a daughter who lives in St. Thomas (leaving out the only child she has living in the state, let alone within 20 minutes of the home).

So far, she has missed her oldest granddaughter’s wedding. She’s missed Easter Sunday service and the chance to wear new hats, shoes, jewelry and dresses purchased for each of these occasions. Mom was not there to watch her great grandchildren hunt Easter eggs or eat Easter brunch. She was not able to celebrate the birthdays of a son in law, a granddaughter and a grandson which were all marked with one big barbecue. She will not attend her great granddaughter’s 8th-grade promotion or her grandson’s college graduation.

All of this because of rules which bar me from taking Mom anywhere without your express written permission on a case-by-case basis. This is unacceptable. As her legal guardian, however, I suppose you are within your rights to isolate Mom as you wish.

In the meantime, Mom has met your condition, although her moving out of my home was done without your input or consent that I personally placed her in her current care. It took urgent pleas to her medical providers at the hospital to discharge her somewhere safe. It took many visits, some of which were crammed into the final 24 hours before her move. Unsuitable places were ruled out. Granted, you did pay for the first month of her care (for which you will be reimbursed, thanks to my hard work) and you will never again have to pay for her long-term care.

So, please, if you have even a piece of living, beating flesh left in your stony heart, please return the family photo album to Mom. It’s hers.

That is all.

RuthAnn Hogue is the owner and founder of Whiptail Publishing’s and She is an award-winning author and journalist with an Internet Marketing Master of Science and a B.A. in Journalism/Political Science.

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