Saturday, April 14

Mr. Kenju's Girlfriend.....

Several years ago, mr. kenju got a call from a woman after she saw his photo and an article about a new group he had started. It was called TAPS, or Triangle Area Pipe Smokers. This woman's grandfather had been a pipe smoker, and she was interested in getting his pipes appraised and possibly selling some.

Mr. kenju visited her home, took a look at the pipes, and assisted her in liquidating some, even though none of them was worth much. Ever since then this widow, who is 89, has called him often and asked him to come and visit her. She has no children and no relatives living nearby. He did go and see her occasionally, but she got very insistant that he come more often. We both felt sorry for her, as she was obviously lonely. So, mr. kenju would go see her about every three months, and I said to him everytime she called, "You have another message from your girlfriend."

The last time he spoke with her was about 6 months ago. She invited him to come over, but admonished him, saying "I want you to come and see me, but DON'T you talk about your grandchildren. I don't want to her about them." I doubt if she has ever figured out why he abruptly stopped returning her phone calls. That was not the correct thing to say to a man who loves his grandchildren as much as life itself, and talks of nothing else if he is allowed. I couldn't believe she would have the gall to say that to him. He told me that he might not ever visit her again; that's how insulted he was.

She has kept on calling, even though her calls have not been returned for a while. A short time ago, she moved to another area, a few miles south of here. Today we got a message from her saying she was in a rehabilitation facility. "I've been here for DAYS, I don't even know how long I've been here. I want you to come and see me because maybe you can help."

The possibility exists that she is suffering from confusion, which is, as we all know, common in the elderly. She did not mention why she is in that facility. We are somewhat loathe to contact her again, and yet we both feel compassion for her. I cannot imagine being in her situation and having no family to rely on. And yet, if we do contact her, we might get into something that is unsavory or aggravating and in no way our responsibility.

What would you do? (an update is in the comments)


Tabor said...

He needs to visit her one more time and set the ground rules...he can talk, bring pictures, say anything about his grandchildren. If she doesn't agree then she has decided he will no longer visit. Friendships are based on sharing. Of course, as you say, she may be facing periods of dementia now and all is a mute point.

Star said...

While this may sound harsh, i think you guys need to not get involved. First of all, it sounds as if she is very confused so you have to take what she is telling you knowing it may not be at all accurate. She ended up in that facillty somehow, so someone knows about her well being. If you get involved now, you may be "in for a penny, in for a pound" as they say. And who knows what relatives will show up, and how they will feel about your nvolvement. If you feel a great concern for her well being, perhaps you could contact the rehab facility, just to find out if she has someone looking out for her interests. BTW, Michele sent me, but you know I would be here anyway. Good luck with this.

Bob-kat said...

Your compassion for this lady is to be commended but do not let yourselves be forced into doing something you are uncomfrtable with. She sounds lonely to me but she also seems to be replacing someone else in her mind with Mr Kenju which would explain why she doesn't want him to talk about anything that might not fit with this image.

If you do visit then perhaps you should do it as a couple and make sure she knows that visits will be on your terms and that you have your own lives that you wnat to talk about? The main thing to remember is that she is not your responsibility and you do not have to take it on. Good luck with whatever you decide to do :-)

ET said...

I pick up my 85 year neighbor's paper off the driveway by the street and put it on her car hood in her carport to save her some steps everyday. And she calls me everyday with the neighborhood gossip.
Her mind is as sharp as if she was 20 years old.
My wife calls her my girlfriend.

Duke_of_Earle said...


Wow. Dilemma deluxe. Tabor's comment makes sense, but this is a complex situation. To visit would be an act of compassion, but if done from a sense of guilt... I don't know.

Given what you've told us I think I WOULD visit and evaluate the situation. Is there evidence of dementia? To what extent? Are there any other visitors; family members or not? (The facility staff can probably answer that without HIPAA privacy concerns, especially if asked with obvious concern and compassion.)

I think I would be guided by thinking through how I would feel if I DIDN'T go, versus if I DID go. If NOT going would bother me from a lingering guilt, or unease from not clearly knowing her situation, then I'd go. But conversely if the thought of going filled me with anxiety and I REALLY didn't want to, then I'd stay away.

Long answer to a short but tough question.


kenju said...

Thanks to those who have left their suggestions so far. Mr. kenju did indeed call her today; she is in the rehab due to several falls, during one of which she broke her hip. He said she sounds like she is "on something" (and I am sure she is) and said that the staff says she is intractable (which we knew already). He has not decided if he will see her. I will keep you posted on the developments, if any.

Carmi said...

She sounds lonely, and your husband has fulfilled a quasi-family relationship for her for quite some time. Despite the surface difficulties that her behavior presents, I suspect she calls your husband because he gives her a means of connection that no one else likely ever has.

Frequently, behaviors such as hers are enough to alienate even immediate family members. I'm no expert, but it may be within the realm of possibility that her faculties are weakening, and that could be at the root of her initial "no grandchildren" admonoshment.

I applaud your efforts to help. Whatever you ultimately decide, the fact that you've given it this much thought speaks volumes about your and your husband's depth of compassion. You're good people. We knew that already, of course. This seals it that much more.

craziequeen said...

I'm with Carmi, the thought you and Mr Kenju has given to this woman shows the depth of your compassion, but don't get sucked into a false relationship.

It does sound like she has alienated her family (much as my mother has) and she is doing her best to alienate Mr Kenju - trying for a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Michele sent me to say hi, Judy...

Laura said...

My experience with people of this age is that sometimes they make unreasonable demands without considering the impact it has on the other person. The fact that she doesn't have family or relatives is very sad, so I think it's awfully kind of your husband to have helped her out when she needed it.

I don't see the harm in just visiting her, and laying out the rules in the process. Your hub has the upper hand in that he doesn't have to agree to any of her demands at all, he's free to leave and go back to his own family. She's stuck in the rehab facility.

I can't help having the feeling that maybe she is, in some ways, just trying to hold on to her independence by asserting herself...except that she did so in all the wrong ways possible. At the end of our lives, we all want someone to be there, to talk to, to listen to us.

It's too bad she can't blog! ;)

margalit said...

I agree with Carmi and CQ too. She sounds lonely and abandoned and probably suffering from dementia. I think it's compassionate to visit on your terms. Not daily, but when you can fit it in. Because it obviously means so much to her.

Becky68 said...

I agree with most of the people who said visit, but on your own (or really Mr Kenju's) terms.
It's so hard to see, you don't want to end up that way but people do so all the time, either through being difficult or from circumstances so many people do end up alone & lonely.
Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier!

Anna said...

Gosh, she does sound so lonely. I am sitting here thinking if my mother had no one and she tried to befriend someone, how much that would touch my heart for someone to be caring to her....clearly her situation touches your hearts as well.

I think you should take it one day at a time and see how you feel led with her.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Hi Judy...I will return...Just showing some friends your blog...!

Raggedy said...

I think it is beautiful that mr. kenju has compassion for the 89 year old widow. I am sure his visits have made a world of difference in her lonely life. I am sorry that she had to be so rude to say something like that to him and I hope she did not mean it. I think he needs to set some rules for continuing the visits if there are to be any.
You are both beautiful people.
It will be her loss if she does not respect your feelings.
Huggles and Love,

Karen said...

Could you possibly contact your minister to help out?

Maybe the minister could put this in the church bulletin and she might then have more visitors. said...

Bless her heart, she's probably forgotten all of her manners. And everything else too.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

This is a true dilemma, isn't it Judy....But I think you and Mr. Kenju are such very dear sweet people and your compassion is enormous! I sort of agree with some of the others that careful in whatever you do....That Mr. Kemju called her and made contact with her by phone says so much about where your hearts are...Maybe that should be the extent of what you all do for this obviously failing woman. Phone calls are a compromise solution and it gives her something but without Mr, Kenju getting more involved than he really wants.
This is a very very sad situation, isn't it? Oh Lord....there but for the Grace....Good luck with whatever you both decide...!

Jamie Dawn said...

I feel sorry for her. It must be terrible to have fallen and gotten injured and have no family to care for her or visit her.
I'm sure she not only doesn't want to hear about the grandkids, but I'm sure she doesn't want to hear about YOU either. :)
Your hubby is obviously a sweet man.
It is nice that he has shown her some care. She is lapping up the attention she so desperately needs.

sage said...

i think maybe both of you need to visit here, maybe even take grandkids, but set rules that you're just friends visiting. It sounds like your husband is a caring man to have spent so much time with her already.

Shephard said...

I would trust my gut. If you extend an olive branch, and someone complains about how many leaves it has on it, then you are free to declare the relationship unhealthy or burdensome. Very compassionate of you both to do what you have done. But the heart always feels better if it does something because you want to, not because you think you should. :)

barbie2be said...

that is so sad.

because i am not close to any of my siblings (emotionally or geographically), it makes me sad because i am afraid i will end up like this old lady some day.

mr kenju should go but as others have said, he should set some ground rules.

joared said...

I think it's very compassionate of you/your husband to pay attention to this lady. From what you say, you certainly have no obligation to her. Whether or not she is experiencing confusion, dementia, drug effects, or is lonely and needy, I would think visiting her at your convenience and at a frequency you determine.

There's probably little point in even trying to have a discussion with her about ground rules for visitation. Simply show up whenever you show up. No matter what recriminations, or queries about your absence, all that needs to be said, repeatedly if necessary, is there were other obligations, that's all.

If pressed as to what they were, you can simply say you want to talk about other things, and stick to your guns on that. If she expresses displeasure with topics you introduce, ask her what she wants to talk about. If her topics are of such a nature you don't want to talk about them, ignore her and launch into another topic, or say you'd rather talk about ... whatever. There is no logical reasoning often with some people in some situations.

Explain your communication frustration to one of her Rehab therapists, or a nurse who knows her (be sure to establish it is someone who knows her) and see if they are able to provide you with any insight or guidance as to the situation, though there will be limits as to what they can say due to the patient's privacy rights, especially since you aren't family.