I was contacted this week for a phone interview with the head investigator at the Board of pardons and paroles. I had sent a letter asking that TH not be released. I have printed out as much relevant information as I thought I could use, but this morning I thought that I would write a few notes to help me remember what I want to say.
Maybe it is best to start with how this all began. In 2000 mom and dad moved from Leander – just down the road from my home, to San Angelo. Dad was concerned that driving in Austin was getting to be too much for him. So with Christine’s family’s help, he purchased a lot next door to Christine and had a smaller home built for them. Over the course of several months, dad sold their current home in Leander and moved their belongings to the new place in San Angelo, which is about a three and a half hour drive from my home.
Larry and I had purchased a condo in New Hampshire as a summer getaway and spent a month or more there at various times during the year. After mom and dad moved in to their new home and we were once more in Austin, I drove to San Angelo to visit. It was obvious that dad needed some help. Mom was in the early stages of dementia and her knees were bad. Dad and mom went out to eat every day for lunch, since cooking was out of the question for mom and dad was overwhelmed by doing everything – his work and moms. I decided that I could help by visiting every couple of months and preparing food for them, freezing the food in small packages. In this way dad and mom would have a varied diet and dad would still have the food he loved to eat ( he wasn’t happy about eating out all the time), as I cooked the way mom did. Mom didn’t eat that much, especially in the evening, but the food I prepared were things that she would eat. In addition, if there were other tasks that dad thought needed doing, like cleaning the refrigerator or chest freezer, small gardening chores or cleaning, I could also help with those.
Dad had been diagnosed with a small meningioma several years before they moved to San Angelo. The neurologist told dad that the tumors were slow growing and given his age, would not be a problem. The doctor was incorrect. Within a couple of years of moving to San Angelo, dad was taken to Austin for brain surgery. The meningioma had grown so much that dad was unable to think correctly, focus on what he was trying to do or even walk unassisted.
My sister Jean came from San Diego to help care for dad after the first surgery. Jean was a retired nurse whose specialty was in neurosurgery. Dad recovered quickly. The doctor felt that the tumor would not return. The doctor was incorrect.
Within two years – in 2004 – the tumor had returned with a vengeance. Dad was scheduled for an eleven hour surgery to remove the tumor, again in Austin. After the surgery dad would need radiation therapy to kill off any further part of the tumor which might remain. Mom had continued to decline, physically and mentally. It was apparent that my sister Jean, who was now disabled, could not adequately care for both mom and dad. Since we had promised our parents that we would care for them in their own home, we would need caregivers.
Christine had met and spoken with prospective caregivers in the course of her employment at Billy Boys Fine Cars, a note lot in San Angelo. One of those women was Thelma Huichappa. Christine had spoken at length with TH, had done a criminal background check on her, and knew the woman to be prompt in her payment on the car she had purchased from Billy Boys. She may have been the first caregiver hired by Christine – that I do not remember exactly.
At the time TH was hired, Jeannie was still living with our parents and helping care for them, although she was scheduled to return to San Diego within the week. Christine had been designated as Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney for mom and dad. Christine had been a “money manager” most of her adult life and lived next door to mom and dad. They trusted her implicitly. Over the course of mom and dad’s remaining years, Christine handled their finances, spoke with the doctors and managed their care, bought their groceries and medical supplies. She also interviewed, hired and fired caregivers.
Of course there were disagreements with the course of care for our parents. No family ever agrees on every item. But Christine was in charge, and even though she was younger than me, I was determined to be of whatever help that I could be. I drove to San Angelo at least once a month – sometimes more often – to help care for our parents. Christine often had me take one or the other of our parents to the doctor, pick up groceries, medical supplies or medications, and of course, I continued to provide cooked meals. I would usually stay at my parents home for 5 days before I returned home to Georgetown.