Thursday, March 23, 2017

Conservator - A Thinly Veiled Horror Story

  1. a person responsible for the repair and preservation of works of art, buildings, or other things of cultural or environmental interest.
    • US
      a guardian or protector.

      "the court does not need to appoint a conservator to handle an incapacitated person's affairs"

I am Sophie's conservator. Every two years, the government checks in on our relationship, which is as it should be, I guess, although the whole process is akin, figuratively, to getting stabbed in the heart. It's the same feeling as listening to the robo calls from Sophie's LAUSD high school that describe the various senior year festivities and activities. Sophie has been a "senior" for over three years, yet she won't be going to college day or career day or military sign-up day or cap and gown ordering day or prom day or -- you understand the drill. If my imagination were a work of art, I'd say that as its conservator, I let things roll, I elaborate, I preserve --

It is what it is, as they say.

Yesterday, a worker from the city came to our house to interview Sophie to make sure that she still needed a conservator.  She was terrified of our dog Valentine, the goofiest poodle on the planet but otherwise a mild enough sort who immediately greeted Sophie. The dog greeted her and the worker greeted Sophie, that is. After she finished asking me a bunch of questions about Sophie's needs and medications and doctors and health history and educational status, she told me that she needed to ask Sophie some questions. I raised my eyebrows. I had kept Sophie home from school for the meeting, and she was sitting in her wheelchair humming. If you're a new reader to the blog, Sophie doesn't hum songs. She makes a steady monotonous sound through closed lips that is at once an expression of agitation (meaning she wants to get up and out of the chair and go outside), of discomfort (of what I have no idea) or perhaps just of a self-stimulating nature that feels good. Depending on my mood or where I am in the caregiver cycle, the sound can make me feel alert to alleviating her discomfort, amused (I have my tolerant side), agitated (okay, CRAZY) or indifferent. Yesterday, I felt amused by Sophie's insistent hum yet my heart throbbed from the ax that the worker had metaphorically thrust into it.

I'm a conservator, a person who guards and protects my adult daughter. I'm also responsible for the repair and preservation of a work of art -- my imagination, I think. A thing of cultural interest.  My writer mind. I listened with amusement to the questions so earnestly asked by this cheerful, bland woman.

Sophie, do you know who you are?

Silence. Hum.

Sophie, do you need an attorney?

Silence. Hum.

Sophie, would you like to vote?

Silence. (I might have interjected here over the hum with my own answer which would be Yes! And hopefully get the asshole and his band of billionaires out of the government!)

We tolerate these things, we conservators.

The worker turned to me, still earnest yet apologetic. We have to ask these questions because there are those who would take advantage of people's disabilities. I told her how much I appreciated that care and attention. I meant it. She stood up, and I stood up and she handed me the paperwork and I put one hand on Sophie's head as the worker said good-bye. Then she said, Plus, you never know! Sophie might wake up one morning and start talking and recover!

Reader, it was then that I removed the ax from my own heart and brought it over the worker's head, cleaving it in two. 

Valentine sniffed around a bit and smiled and Sophie hummed.


  1. Oh, sweet Jesus. Holy brainwashed bureaucrat. If I'd been there, I would have kicked her to the curb after you split her head in two. What the actual fuck.

  2. I have tap shoes in the closet for when my Sophie recovers. I just KNOW she wants to tap dance.

  3. Be sure to let us know when that happens.
    Oh, Elizabeth.

  4. You never know, lady might wake up one morning and have recovered from stupid.

  5. Jo's reply made me laugh out loud! Maybe for the next visit it would be nice to have company. A roomful
    of people humming along with Sophie. Performance. Hmmmmmmmmm. Would Valentine mind wearing a hat? A
    pillbox with a veil?

  6. Holy shit, what an insensitive thing to say.

    You are a conservator of the glory that is Sophie, and I love you, cleaver and all.

  7. Jesus fucking mother of God!
    That one takes the cake.

    I think she voted for Trump.

  8. "Love" those newbie social workers.... I LOVE the experienced social workers who walk in the door, take one look at Scott, and understand that he's a one-horse-pony who blows spit bubbles every gosh durned moment he's awake and just fill out their gosh durned fricken paperwork and get the hell outta our space and don't curl their upper lip at my four beloved cats crawling all over their forms. I see my conservator yearly paperwork update is due also. Sigh.

  9. The fuck? There are no words. I bet she is going to pray for Sophie.

  10. oh, sweet baby jesus. your act was merciful. she needed to be put out of her ignorance.

  11. For crying out loud. How disrespectful.

  12. Oh, oh, oh the social worker visit. This writing is so good. Thank you. In my version the ax was a shovel.

  13. Not a social worker, but a court investigator. The system is flawed. Though conservatorship works for our kids, it is not designed with them in mind. Rather it is designed for elderly persons with dementia who are at great risk of being taken advantage of, especially financially. They have to investigate (but once every two years won't really protect anyone). That's why the questions. They are always the same. They seem unable to adapt the text to the situation at all. But the idiotic comment at the end is just beyond the pale

  14. I like the idea of an ax, or a shovel, put down a tarp first though. Makes clean up so much easier:)

    When Katie was in surgery on Wednesday night, I was upset, terrified, etc, and a nurse came into the room. He was going off shift and wanted to know if I believed. "In what," I asked. Then I realized what he meant and I got irritated. He wanted to know if I wanted to pray with him. I get so irritated with people who shove their religion in other people's faces. I said no thank you. I pray all the time but I don't need to tell everyone about it, or ask them if they want to pray with me. I wonder if god cringes when people do this.

    Katie makes a humming noise as well, but her noise indicates contentment. I love hearing her make that noise. Haven't heard that noise this week but hopefully she recovers quickly.

  15. Holy christ. Beyond the pale is right.

  16. People say and do the most ridiculous things when they are uncomfortable. I got a literal heartache reading this. I don't even know what to say. The really impulsive bad side of me wishes that Valentine had devoured the social worker like the wolf did to red riding hood. Then your sons come home and you discuss a la the woodsman and decide nope, we're not going to rescue her, and you and Sophie and Valentine live happily ever after in a kingdom where this nonsense is abolished by queen who is benevolent and kind and knows what the fuck is what.

  17. Oh, so waking up, start talking is the Key to Recovery is it?! Who knew? So insensitive and ignorant. I was once a Conservator of my Adult SMI Daughter's financial affairs {the Mother of The G-Kid Force I'm now raising and am Conservator of both now}. Well, one 'brilliant' Social Worker doing the annual assessment decided that said Daughter was indeed high functional enough to no longer need my financial guidance and handling of her affairs. So, Okay, I relinquished my Conservator-ship {I made that word up} over to Seriously Mentally Ill Daughter. SSI in the meantime had screwed up {no big surprise there} and overpaid while she was off and on Institutionalized... when she got out she spent every last penny... and then some not in the account... and to this day she probably owes them about ten grand, which they will never see... never ever since she's Non Compos Mentis and always will be... so her accountability is... well... good luck with that. They called me whining about the cluster f--k of it all... I laughed out loud at them... the consequences of their stupidity, it was the best Karma ever! Of coarse she promptly lost all her benefits and has been an Adult Homeless SMI Person for all of her Adult Life who cares not about The System or how it really doesn't work... and I've had to develop a Peace about that and her allegedly 'high functional' choices without a Caregiver or a Conservator. Of coarse now she has nothing to Conserve so to speak... so I guess they think she no longer would need one anyway? Ah, The System... I've often imagined cleaving numerous Caseworkers in two... but there are Mercifully, some Good ones that I have been more than Grateful for being Assigned... alas, those are usually the ones that quit when The System as it stands overwhelms them too. Big Hugs to you getting thru the Government checks and balances once again... ours should be coming up soon I suspect for The Force, Thankfully I don't have to go thru it with The Man... Dawn... The Bohemian

  18. words fail me...

    And, just a thought, isn´t Sophie another example of your workings of art? She has touched the lifes of thousands.

  19. You make my life look like a walk in the park. I needed you to shake me up. Thank you.

  20. You'd think that was in the manual somewhere. "Don't say idiotic things."

  21. I laughed because, well, sometimes it is so gawd awful it's funny in a sick kind of way. And I will admit, I chortled when I heard that the ACA wasn't going away, that sometimes incompetence is a good thing. Which we have in abundance in DC. And elsewhere, apparently. Keep the faith, dear Elizabeth, and keep the stories coming.
    Love, Beth

  22. Just loved this post. Amazing that the dialogue wasn't fiction.



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