Thursday, August 14, 2008

well i could swear

that i'd written about my dad's obsession with coins, but my search = null. i did finally find something about stamp obsession (i suggest you search in there, if you really want to know more) but suffice to say, some of that same bidness has returned. this time it's about coins -- ancient ones -- which, along with stamps and books, he's collected for years.

sounds pretty boring, doesn't it? i like history a smidge, so i do find discussions on these topics somewhat interesting, but what i really find tedious is spending GOBS of scrilla to the point that you risk losing your home. again.

in short, the last two weeks has involved way too many conversations with my mom about mysterious p@ypal charges. and i had written a whole post about it yesterday, but last night i got an email from my dad, and i realized that my reply to him would make for better reading. so here you go.
Hey Dad,

Thanks for emailing me. Before anything else, I want to let you know I love you, and I always will.

The other thing I have to say right away is that I find it ironic you preferred to talk via email--ironic because that's often easier for me as well, when discussing something that may be difficult. I know we'll talk soon on the phone or in person, but I agree this is a good place to start.

Thanks also for saying you want me to 'let it all out' and want some open, honest communication. Plenty of things have been running through my head the last couple weeks, but here's what I want to say for now.

1. I know you feel a sense of duty -- and indeed, some legal/financial responsibility -- to the eb@y auctions you either currently or expect to owe payments on. But you do not "need" to pay for these items. What you need to do is contact these sellers and tell them you are sorry, but you do not have the funds to pay for these items and must withdraw. There is a lot of info here but suffice to say, even under the 12 hour timeframe, eb@y still gives the option to withdraw at any time.

The bottom line is this: there is no more money. Unless you have a hidden bank account somewhere, your only option is to work with these sellers to withdraw from every remaining auction -- closed or open.

2. You said: "I thought I could handle closing this on my own but you must have thought otherwise."
I thought so too. But over the last several weeks, you have repeatedly changed your story about a) how many auctions were left and b) how much the total cost might be. I remember hearing totals of $40...$190...but the fact is that, over the last month, you have spent almost $669 on eb@y or coin-related websites, most of that in the last two weeks.

Since I have taken action to freeze your P@yPal account -- which is tied to my secondary bank account -- and began the process of closing that bank account, there *should* be no additional charges. As far as 'overages' -- there was a non-sufficient funds fee earlier this week due to all this, which would put the damage at $701. Hopefully that will be the final tally.

Incidentally, all but 1 of these charges are after your first apology, your first promise to me in the middle of last month, that you would not 'break my trust' by *further* spending inappropriately and draining my bank account. Since then, there have been 2 additional apologies...

3. I am a bit puzzled by your request that I will be kind to mom. I don't think I've ever given any indication of being unkind, and certainly actions by you would not make me be unkind to her. I would hope it wouldn't make me unkind to you either -- anger has a purpose, and I have every right to be angry, as does mom.

Since this is not the first time our family has had to deal with your impulse control problem, I think --honestly-- you're lucky that we're being this mellow. I could have easily called and yelled at you, demanded to have passwords to your accounts, tried to cajole some kind of commitment out of you...but really all that would result in is more drama. At this point, calm, loving but firm actions are the best option.

With that in mind, I hope that we all can be kind, honest and respectful with each other as things get sorted. You're my father, and as Amber said (essentially) earlier this week, I'll never escape the love, the relationship that I have with you. The only thing that may change is the shape of that relationship. I know Min loves you as well, and both of us are open to working toward that honest, respectful relationship--but it is a good faith act. We are assuming you will also be completely honest, and respectful, with everyone in our family. Historically speaking, those have not been strong points for you when it comes to anything financial. I suppose that leads me to the last point:

4. As soon as the dust settles from the current financial crisis, I am washing my hands of any role in the finances between you and mom. The main step toward that is cancelling the bank account. At one point you threw out the idea of me being a go-between, running potential purchases past me...I don't want that responsibility or stress. You know how much money you and mom get each month; it's up to you to responsibly decide how that money is allocated.

It's also up to you to abide by whatever decisions are made. From what I gather, this point in particular has been a big problem. I'm not privy to any prior arrangements made with mom, and I don't want to know, either. The key thing is that if you know you're having trouble abiding by those agreements, you need to say something. You need to get help right away, before you risk homelessness, as you did this month. God was clearly looking out for you by providing that stimulus check this month -- I couldn't have bailed you out. As it is, you will have an extremely difficult month ahead with what little cash is left.

At any rate, to prevent things like this from happening in the future, a better process, and possibly some kind of supplemental help for you, needs to be identified. I don't know why you are still having problems with this, but it seems like it would be a good idea to get that sorted. I don't mind talking about any of that with you -- save the financial stuff, which should stay between you and mom.

I think that is enough for now. I know we will talk soon, likely this weekend.
Love to both of you,
oh and for perspective on the $ dad only makes a little over $700/month. so, $701 is kind of a big deal.

ps. the bank account was mine, but the money was all theirs. no $ was stolen from me.


Mir said...

My dear Queenie - I know we've discussed this situation before, so I'm sorry to see it happening again. I am so proud of your response to your dad. Again - something we've shared before, but it still amazes me that we have to be the "parents" to our parents. To quote my grandpa, "I don't care what your father says, you're a good kid." OXOX - Princess

heather said...

thanks princess :) it has been a difficult couple of weeks, and my dad has been all over the map in his responses. will be interesting to see what happens.

and nice quote from the grandpa!

gs said...

Wow. This was a pretty intense post. I feel so bad for you. We expect to have to care for our parents when they become infirm, but it's a lot to expect children to, as Mir put it, be parents to our parents. To be more grown up than they are.

I understand that you have been put in an untenable situation, but I'm also very worried that throwing the situation back over to your mother is just going to get them in worse trouble, since that hasn't worked before. It's almost as though you have to dole out a weekly allowance to your father. :)

Anyway, I know it's none of my business, and also that I don't have all the facts, but I'd be appreciative if you'd keep us informed, if not in gory details, then at least generally (e.g., "Things are doing better," or, "things are kind of rocky right now"). Your post has made us care about these people.


heather said...

thanks gs :)

it's been so busy at work i haven't had time for a followup post, but on the other hand, things are awfully muddled at present. would make for weird reading.

i do worry about throwing things back to my mom, as you say. then again, she may leave him over this...another can of worms.

Pandababy said...

Well, this sounds complicated... and I think you are handling it as well as anyone could, since the problem is that no one can really control someone else, so a relationship with someone with low impulse control can be rocky...

On the bright side, if your dad has been a collector for years, then does he have collections he'd be willing to sell? Maybe take your mom on a cruise with some of it? (just hoping).

heather said...

thanks pandababy. he has sold bits of his collection before; unfortunately most of what's left is down in arizona, where they were before. what he has here...he's not at the point where he's willing to sell yet. i hope he gets there eventually, but at the moment it's still too precious to him.

Dharma said...

Hi honey. Wow, so sorry to read about all of this. What a painful situation on many levels. Clearly your dad has a serious problem and I hope he is able to get help for it.
Hugs to you.

heather said...

thanks samantha. i hope so too. going to see him today, will be interesting to see how things go. i predict much ignoring of the situation, if my mom has anything to say about it--not ready to rock the boat just yet.