OK…so deep breath (which hurts like hell thanks to all the complications lupus has wracked my body with..just saying) today was round number I lost count in the saga of dealing with our elderly neighbor. I cannot believe I feel the need to write this post but here goes..and please bear with me
During the past 18 months I have often taken to writing about the rather unsettling encounters with my neighbor Elsie. The first episode took me by surprise ..I actually had someone in my home renovating my bathroom who witnessed everything..I literally had just said to him don;t worry about her she is harmless ..I am eating those words. That was the start of a slippery slope where often times her tirades and inexplicable actions/reactions have lined up with pivotal moments occurring in my life. ..you know like right before I was going for a breast biopsy and ultrasound because I had a pesky suspicious lump..or right before I was on my way for a cardiac MRI .. or the day I was heading off to see Faith and nervous as hell ..and too many times in between to count. It still continues to blow my mind that during the past 18 months, Elsie has called the police numerous times reporting that I have broken into her home, killed her plants, stolen her iron and her bedsheets, dumped leaves in her yard during the middle of the night…in her mind I am the problem..and yet it has not resonated with her husband or possibly her kids (they are hardly ever here so who knows what they think) that the possibility lies that whatever is happening is all in Elsie’s mind? I have spoken to the police about what happened in the past and continues to happen and every single time the police have suggested to me that I get an order of protection at the local courthouse. My response has been and still remains that my neighbor needs help not law enforcement..that is not in any way negating the reality that this situation is difficult to live with ..it is difficult being the target of her delusions and it does not negate the stress and anxiety this situation places on me. What should be stressed is there is something going on that in all fairness is none of my business ..but by doing nothing or refusing to acknowledge the situations that continue to escalate this has in turn become my problem.
I have owned this home for about 26 years now ..many of those years living rather quietly amongst my neighbors including Elsie and her husband John. Elsie has always been a very nice albeit high maintenance and rather nosy neighbor. Elsie is the neighbor you know enough to welcome in to your home and to keep at arms length distance at the same time ..because while her intentions were never intentionally malicious (at least I never perceived them to be) she has a tendency to twist things to make the gossip sound more interesting or to find a way to get the story. My husband, my former neighbor and I dubbed her the “Gladys Kravitz” of the neighborhood and yes I did include a BEWITCHED reference there (and I am aware there may be some who have no clue what that reference is)..hell I rarely locked my door when I went out because I knew Elsie was always home and always on neighborhood watch. This recent turn of events saddens me, it frightens me,it angers me and it stresses the hell out of me all at the same time.
Yesterday as I mopped the mudroom floor I look out and I see a different neighbor from around the block who is also elderly and a friend of Elsie’s marching across my lawn looking rather upset..WHAT NOW! My husband answered the door to “Is your wife here” and I was confronted angrily with “why don;t you like my friend Elsie?” We have to explain that we have been dealing with whatever issues Elsie has been dealing with for about 18 months now..those include episodes of Elsie screaming at me from her driveway (sometimes in her bathrobe and barely dressed)and hurling obscenities, calling me a bitch, accusing me of stealing from her, vandalizing her yard (which is meticulous by the way) and anything else she can shoot at me..we have dealt with multiple calls to the police (that Elsie told her friend the police refuse to do anything about the situation) we have dealt with her reckless driving, we have watched this tragedy unfold and include us while her husband and family seemingly do absolutely nothing. Our response has been not to respond. we do not call the police but we have called elder services and our town’s council on elder affairs in an attempt to get some help for her..we have responded by waiting until she leaves to put out our trash or collect our trash bins from the designated spot on trash day..we wait until she is not outside to water our plants and flowers during the spring and summer, we back our car in when we bring groceries home so she cannot see us while unloading , we clean the car out at the car wash, we make sure none of our actions are of any cause to set her off. We have been mindful that something is not right and have been unable to have a conversation with any other neighbor outside because she comes out and screams..I attempted to record her on my phone but forgot to hit record a month or so ago..she told her friend this and said now she can’t yell at me This is a sad situation and this poor woman is suffering..but so am I and that is equally unfair to me. Elsie’s friend Ellen explained to us that Elsie was at her house that morning crying because she claimed we were out to get her..crying hard and ugly tears in Ellen’s kitchen to the point where Ellen felt the need to drive Elsie home the 7 or 8 houses around the block so Elsie could be safe..Elsie declined. I have witnessed Elsie walking home in the neighborhood in recent weeks and her behavior is bizarre to say the least..an indication that something is not right..she walks oddly and then instead of going into her own driveway she will duck between the fence post and mailbox of the neighbor directly across from me and stay there a minute before heading into her own house..paranoia over a threat that does not exist. Ellen was upset to hear how her friend is acting and it dawned on her that Elsie’s conversations of late are centered more in the past than in the present. I hope Ellen realizes that we wish Elsie no harm but we also do not wish to be the target of her tirades and delusions..a sign this is really bad..Elsie wants to erect a rather large fence on her property with motion detectors and alarms to keep me out of her house. Her suffering must be immeasurable if this is where she is at.
I cannot force Elsie’s husband John or any of her 3 children to step up and get this woman some help. I am enraged by her husband’s managing this situation by not doing anything at all. when things escalate he will come over and apologize to my husband and not to me the person who takes the brunt of this abuse. John has repeatedly told us Elsie is very old and he does not know what to say or do. John responded to the latest call to the police by telling a neighbor who asked what happened ..oh just another dead plant (the police officer admitted she recognized Elsie was not responding rationally and Elsie’s account of what was wrong did not make sense and planned to call elder services herself ) John continues to work pretty much full time and leaves Elsie home and to her own devices on a daily basis. John according to Ellen wants nothing to do with the situation..I am sorry John but it is your responsibility to step up and make the difficult decisions to make your wife’s life easier and to prevent her from being abusive to me and the other neighbors, to insure that she does not hurt herself or someone else with her car because in her state of mind she should not be driving . I rarely see the kids visiting unless it is a holiday or after elder services have been called ..I understand they are all adults with jobs and kids of their own but this is their mother and no mater what the relationship is between them..their mother needs help ..she needed help at least 18 months ago and now we have a woman so trapped by her delusions that she feels the need to erect a fence with motion sensors and alarms? John and Elsie’s kids need to step up and step in because their father is unable to cope with this situation. what are they going to do if she hurts herself or someone else with her car? What will they do if her memory issues become so impaired that she forgets to turn off the stove or causes a fire in the home? What are they going to do if she gets confused and does something she regrets? What is it going to take for these people to recognize that they have a responsibility to say and do what is right and necessary to make their mother’s remaining years comfortable and less stressful? They should start by showing up here more often..by taking her keys away and taking the time insure she is being properly treated..in the end she is their mother and they should be doing the right thing.
i recognize that what is happening to elsie can happen to any one of us. This is a sad fact of life..my hope is if it is me that my husband and kids will make the tough choices and have the strength and compassion to what is right not what is easy.