Reader’s Commentary Regarding the suspicion of abuse of a vulnerable elderly woman (December 19):
“My mother, who’s since passed away, became the victim of emotional abuse by her sister and her family over money my aunt claimed that my mother owed her.
“The story began when my mother bought a house when the interest rates for a bank mortgage were exorbitant.
“My mother told her sister that she could pay cash for the house, but half the money was in a short-term deposit and the penalty to take money out was prohibitive.
“My aunt offered to loan her the money for a year at a very reasonable interest.
“My mother agreed. A year later, she reimbursed her sister when the money became available. They trusted each other and never signed any papers.
“Three years later, my mother sold the house. The matter never arose for 28-plus years. No one mentioned the loan or its repayment.
“The sisters, both widows with children, continued living together in the same apartment for many years.
“One day, out of the blue, with both in their late 80s, my aunt began harassing my mother and demanding that she pay back the loan.
“My mother defended her position that it had been repaid but my aunt was relentless and at times threatening.
“Both families became involved. My aunt argued that she had no record to prove the loan had been repaid (it was before records were kept on computers).
“We also couldn’t prove the loan had occurred although we agreed my mother had received the money.
“There were some very unpleasant arguments and attempts at resolving this issue.
“Both sisters were in their early 60s when the loan took place, both working full time and very capable of handling their personal finances.
“Just because my aunt didn’t remember getting her money back in 1982 didn’t mean that she didn’t get it.
“There was no legal solution but there was a deep emotional trauma taking place.
“Fast forward to 2008, their living together was not a healthy situation and my mother came to live with us in another city.
“For the next five years, my aunt refused to speak to my mother and my cousins continued to claim the money from my mother.
“The distance, the silent treatment, the years and old age with signs of dementia in my mother, her pride, and her damaged reputation within her family, had her convince herself that she owed her sister the money.
“She demanded that I give her back money she’d put in my trust years before, so she could send it to her sister.
“I remained very protective of her assets and refused to hand over the money. By then she was in her late 90s and in very fragile health, cared for in my home.
“Unknowingly to me, she was able to send three payments from her bank account and gave her sister the full amount my aunt claimed was owed her.
“Their relationship was never restored, and my cousins and I will never speak again. I will never forgive them for the emotional abuse my mother suffered over more than 10 years for financial gains.
“My mother was not wealthy. She’d worked hard all her life and had saved just enough in case she needed to go to a retirement home.
“She was a vulnerable old person being taken advantage of for financial gain by a close relative and her family.”
My friend and her “boyfriend” started dating two years ago. This was only 18 months after her husband had died suddenly at 49.
Now the couple are cohabitating, and we who were originally close friends with her late husband, have a difficult time with this.
We know all the thoughts about her right to happiness, etc. But how do we handle being with them as a committed couple?
I was best friends with her late husband, from high school through university and continued closeness when we each married.
Upset Best Friend
Honour your friend by supporting his widow’s right to happiness, not just through platitudes. Get to know her now-partner, and the qualities she sees in him.
Her relationship with him is not about you, though I respect that your personal loss of a best friend is very sad. Missing him is a separate and private matter for you.
As the relationship is for her.
Tip of the day:
Responsible adults keep records of financial “gifts” vs. loans, of what’s owed or repaid, and a detailed Will.