Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dorrie's Art with Mardi Gras beads
Another necessary step taken in the "taking leave" process of aging ...

Yesterday Dorian and I drove out to a nearby town so that she could meet -- for the first time -- members of the Trust team who will be responsible for her life after my death.  It went beautifully!

I'd carefully avoided building too much anxiety before the fact by too much preparation.  She has been aware that a Trust has been created, but its purpose was never defined so that her expectations wouldn't involve her having to lose her mother in order for her team to take over responsibility for the decision-making.  The goal, for me, was to try (before I become infirm and therefore unavailable to her) to have the luxury of setting my successors in place in order to have a chance to witness her life as it will be lived when I'm no longer here.  Given any luck, some of the dependence will have been transferred to others before that happens, and therefore lend less disruption to her life.

I've never wanted to have my sons responsible for her since the added weight upon their lives might one day be experienced as a burden.  I want them to go on loving and caring about her into the foreseeable future, and that might be jeopardized were she perceived in that light.  They have their lives and families, and I've carefully protected their love for her by assuming all of the responsibility myself.  It was an investment in all of our futures.  We've arrived at this point with an unbroken bond that may be sustainable with professionals bearing the responsibility for decision-making on her behalf.  Her brother's will ultimately take my place as guardian ad litem when signators are needed, or in acting for her legally, but the team created as her Trust are staff members in the law firm of highly-reputed Attorney Stephen Dale whose practice is designed for the sole purpose of serving the physically and mentally handicapped.  They will assume the major guiding role in her future.

Dorian's team consists of an investment counselor, an attorney, and a day-to-day adviser.  She remains a client of the Regional Center of the East Bay, one of a chain of agencies created and supported by the State of California under the Lanterman Act.  The RCEB will continue to provide case management, fund her NIAD education, and auxiliary services as needed.   

Yesterday, Dorrie met with her team, and as her session ended she came out to the parking lot where I sat waiting in the car with some quiet fears -- to announce that her team understood the importance of Special Olympics -- a real concern for her.  She was glowing!  She explained who her "new friends" were, and came away with a fairly good idea of what a Trust is, and of its role in her future.  Allowing her to experience this session alone, made them her team and not her mother's.  That is precisely as it should be.  My first baby steps out of the foreground and into the background of her life has been successfully accomplished.

My feelings as we drove home through the lovely and newly greening Alhambra Valley were of contentment.  Another step has been taken to insure her safety and security -- even as Governor Jerry Brown was announcing on the car radio that substantial budget cuts were unavoidable and would kick in as mandated by conditions set forth last summer in order to gain enough votes for passage. These would be in education, elder services, and for the developmental disabled ... .

... and maybe now I'll have time for those tango lessons and riding my new bike .... .

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