We have been plodding on with our boat restoration for some weeks, getting along OK, bit-by-bit, and thinking that the weather wasn't that great for boating yet anyway...I have been rowing my brains out three times a week, and helping with the Learn-to-Row sessions which finish this coming week. So I don't have a lot of spare time...what there is I use in gardening, making wine, laundry etc.
Anyway, I got a call from the RP last Tuesday. Left an incoherent and rambling message. Could she ask me a big favour? (uh, oh) Would I be home on Thursday at 10 am? Would I be able to go with her to witness her signing a document? Phone tag and finally she called back and I said, yes, sure. OK, see you Thursday. KThxBye...That was it.
I didn't much worry about what was going on. This is the kind of thing that she's done before. It is all about her, always. She arrived on Thursday morning looking quite strained. She started to tell me that she and her husband, Job (not his real name), were separating. (About time.) And that she was going to meet him at his parents house to sign an agreement about financial support etc. Oh...so that was the document I was to witness, crikey, thanks for the notice! She then started frantically scribbling down figures and dates, adding things up using a calculator. It then transpired that this was a list of Job's income for the 10 years of their marriage, together with the amounts of money provided by her mother from time-to-time and from the sale of various properties that the RP and her mother had in the U.S. and Russia/Crimea. I must say it seemed a bit odd that she was just working all this out about 5 minutes before meeting with her husband (and presumably his family). There was a lot more scribbling and muttering. Eventually she produced a tape recorder and started testing it to pick up her voice in normal conversation. She said she was going to record the encounter. She wouldn't discuss anything that she was going to do. All she would say is, don't ask questions, don't speak when we go to the family's house. She said that in the forthcoming conversation she would be the only one to speak - I pointed out that the generally accepted meaning of conversation was a dialogue. She said it was to be a monologue, only she would be allowed to speak.
We walked around to Job's parents' house, a very modest bungalow just around the corner. This couple are in their late 60's, they are very nice, we know them slightly from various local excitements, such as the neighbourhood campaign to prevent Jimmy Smith from opening a car repair shop in his yard across the street from them...but I digress...Job came to the door asked if the RP was alright and we went into their tiny kitchen. The RP has previously said to me about five times that she didn't want to face her mother-in-law and she didn't want to sit next to her (most emphatically the last). So there was a bit of chair moving and shuffling while the correct Feng Shui was obtained for madame.
First item on the agenda was the separation agreement. One page, two or three typewritten lines. They were separating and would do what was best for the kids. Sign here, sign here, witnessed by me. OK so far. Then the RP launched into her monologue (after turning on the tape recorder and warning several times that a Children's Aid Society person was expecting to get the tape today). It went on for 30 mins and then she had to turn the tape over. No-one else was allowed to speak, no-one could lean forward (too threatening). She produced Job's tax returns and read out the totals of his income for the last 10 years. In the last 4 years his income had dropped from $25K to an average of around $6-10K. He has probably only worked 4-6 months of every year in that time. (Mostly because he had to give up working to look after the kids while the RP went on one of many trips to Russia or the US to see her guru.) She said that she and her mother had supported her husband during that time and therefore she wanted to have their house in Westboro entirely for herself. Job was OK with that. No-one else said anything at all. I stared at my hands and tried to think of how I could be having a good time sanding teak right now. Then there was a long diatribe about how wonderful Canada was in providing a system for abused women to be safe and financially secure. How she had talked to a lawyer from the Women's Shelter and that because Job's parents had cosigned her immigration sponsorship 10 years ago, they were jointly responsible for her support until December. Dire warnings about what would happen if anyone didn't obey her. Threats of what lawyers would do. Nasty.
Then the actual demands were produced. She had 3 copies of a typewritten sheet with lots of last minute additions in pen. She started to read this out, when I pointed out that to be fair she should pass the copies around otherwise it wouldn't be understood.
- Job to pay $2000 per month to the RP (modest enough to live in Westboro, but basically all he could earn on near minimum wage, leaving nothing for him.)
- Job to pay her $600 to get a new computer because he had broken hers. He's caught a virus or something and screwed it up.
- Job to pay to repair the dent in her new car that he made 3 years ago. Picky.
- Job to be available to look after the children at weekends, some week nights, and any time the RP wanted to go on a trip. (Meaning he couldn't actually get a job).
- Job to make sure that when the children were taken to his family get-togethers that they were treated the same as the other grandchildren. God knows...
- Her children only to eat healthy
snacks when they visit the grandparents because they have inherited
obesity from both sides of the family...it is true that the 11-year old
is fat. Hypocritical. The RP is herself, fat. Her use of juice in a
soother for her infant daughter meant that the child's baby teeth all
rotted and had to be removed.
- Children to go to the Ukraine with the RP for 2 months in the summer. Hmm.
- Job to pay to renovate the bathroom in (now) the RP's house. (This will take at least $5K since it is an original 50's fully tiled bathroom).
- Job to pay off the $50K mortgage that they still have on her house. Yeah, right...
How do you feel when you have been present at a serious attempt to extort money from a couple of elderly people? This is what was going on. There is no way Job could come up with the kind of money that she was asking for. I was very upset for the rest of the day. Didn't get any sanding done!
Job's grandmother lived until she was 90 or so and had inherited just about all the money from her and her late husband's families. Last of a generation. She lived in a ramshackle 1890's house that had long been in danger of falling down. When she finally died, she left about $2 million in property and investments to Job's father and his two sisters. All the property has since been sold. One sister is schizophrenic and lives in a small house nearby - she used to live with her mother; Job's father takes care of her and keeps her on her meds, stops her making huge donations to the Oblate Fathers etc. So this is not a huge estate. Don and I estimate that the best income that Job's father could get on his part of the loot would be about $30-$50K per year. Enough to make it easier to live on his retirement pension, but not enough to go to Vegas very often...the RP clearly doesn't understand the difference between income and capital...
The trouble is that she is actually bat-shit crazy (Don's term). She keeps muttering to herself, excuses about why she has to do what she is doing. It's almost a conversation with a stern parent. Or more probably, god. The chatter never seems to cease. And as she and I were walking away, she then told me that she was going to fly to Los Angeles for 10 days "on a trip that has been planned, all booked and paid for". Oh, and when was this? Tomorrow morning at 5am...
So this character, having attempted at least blackmail on her in-laws, humiliating her husband in front of me and his parents, proposed to leave her children with her "dangerous" husband for nearly the next 2 weeks! I have since spoken to Job and he is dumbfounded. I told him to go to my lawyer in Morrisburg (who is young and reasonably on the ball) and see what he recommends. I think she's insane and should be under treatment. Most of the stories about lawyers are lies. Job found the tape recording, no CAS person was waiting for it. She has made some contacts with the authorities about abuse, but she hasn't done anything final because a) she thinks she can handle Job and that he will fold, and b) because the authorities will take the kids into care pretty quickly until everything is sorted out. She can't bear to think of this.
The nasty thing is, this has (of course) repercussions on their children. The girl is fat and unhappy about it, a beginner at bulimia according to another friend's daughter. 11 years old. Under supervision by Children's Aid, designated "at risk". The 9 -year old boy is emotionally distant, some sort of ADHD/autism spectrum disorder and educationally about 2-3 years behind his age. Smart, obsessed by Lego and pirates, but he refused to speak until he was about 5.
Fwiw, I think the RP is schizophrenic with some psychopathic traits. Not sure if this is complicated by her over-active thyroid (still untreated). Certainly she lacks empathy. When I told her I was unable to look after her kids because I couldn't drive due to my medications, her main concern was whether she could catch shingles from me. Not that this bothers me. What bothers me is that when or if her husband arranges to have the kids taken away from her (she is a terrible housekeeper and getting worse) that she is going to be suicidal...I worked on a suicide hotline years ago in the UK, and this is a classic scenario.
What was I saying about Anne-Marie Macdonald stories? I wish I could unsubscribe to this soap opera, I really do.
The rest of our lives are basically simple...I have made a batch of apricot jam (I'll bring you a jar). I am making a Tron costume for the daughter of a friend to wear to the Canada Day fireworks display. We have planted potatoes and other veg and it's rained ever since. (The potatoes seem to like it, they are up about 6 inches above the ground). I am seriously behind on the weeding...the house & garden is a shambles...too much rain to mow the grass, thank goodness!
My shingles is much better. I have started tapering off the anti-depressant. I'm taking it slowly, 2 weeks on each of three successive lower doses. So far so good, a little itch, nothing significant...I am so glad.
Don sends his best wishes.