– “Open Your Eyes”
In an email to Geoffrey Blair on January 7, Saoirse welcomes him back:
“Subject: Welcome back Geoffrey!
Geoffrey, please see the following log of our attempts to meet with my mother at Christmas time. I remain deeply worried about her personal safety and while I believe Ethan may have backed off a little since these happenings, I believe his bullying and physically keeping her in line has not stopped. I am also attaching paperwork to add to this.
What can I do next to ensure my mother is kept safe and away from Ethan? It is not my wish to distress her further, but again I cannot let this individual take away her dignity and her independence. this is abuse that has been finessed over a period of almost 20 years or when Ethan became of the age he could control both parents. I really miss my chats with my mother and the conversation this past week without his physical presence and for the first time minor interruptions via other phones etc. from him was a blessing. I don't expect it'll last long though.
What can I do next to ensure her safety?
The paperwork Saoirse mentions contains Ethan's Christmas Message, and a log of the events detailed in A Christmas Story. In the log, Saoirse is not clear yet on some things; for example she believed, from her conversation with Dolores, that all of her brothers and sisters were sent the solicitor's letter about the Enduring Power of Attorney.
Helen Jackman, in her role as a Public Health Nurse, would visit Dolores at her home in Rosslare. Geoffrey Blair in his role as HSE Elder Abuse Caseworker investigating Saoirse's concerns about the control, isolation and abuse Dolores was suffering from Ethan, called PHN Jackman. Excerpts from PHN Jackman's reports:
Tuesday, July 07, 2009: “Phonecall from family friend requesting visit to Mrs. Maxwell, and would like to be present. Will contact him to arrange day later in the week Thurs/Fri”
The “family friend” is of course Ethan's associate Lloyd Montgomery of Finglas, Dublin.
Two days later, PHN Jackman visited Dolores' house. Either Dolores wasn't there, or wasn't answering the door.
Thursday, July 09, 2009: “Called to house – no reply – card left. Rang son – would like me to meet his friend at the home tomorrow to see his mother.”
Why this emphasis and request from both Ethan and Lloyd Montgomery that Dolores not be seen alone by PHN Jackman? It becomes obvious:
Friday July 10, 2009: “Home visit. Family friend present. Started at the day care centre yesterday and will continue to go. Will think about using meals on wheels during the week. Personal alarm in use. Has a bedroom downstairs and toilet – relunctant to move downstairs – advised it would be safer than using the stairs as unsteady and slow on same. Complains of hip and lower back - GP has referred her to WGH [Wexford General Hospital] for x–rays. Contacted GP re: physio referral for same and TENS machine for pain relief. Requesting some home help and help with showering – forms filled in and sent. Advised re: waiting list for home help. Family to contact County Council to apply for grant for downstairs shower facilities. Having difficulty getting up on toilets. Raised toilet seat requisition given. Has appointment in the x-ray department. Community Cares contacted for transport. Next door neighbours are good and keep an eye on her. Gets her shopping delivered from Murphys. Only one son living in Ireland, other children all living abroad.”
We know now that at this time, July 2009, Ethan was well on his way to controlling more and more of Dolores life. He had started transferring her services to his name and address in Bray. He was freely using her money to pay his own utilities for his house in Bray. One of Dolores' burned bank statements retrieved from her fireplace that covered this July 2009 period show that €56,000 had disappeared from her account over the space of a few days. Ethan had recently “purchased” a new car outright; he had also recently purchased his house in Bray. A few weeks prior to this visit by the Public Health Nurse, Dolores had changed her long standing will – twice in one week! (See FAQ > Miscellaneous ) It appears Ethan had very good reason to exert control over what Dolores might say to PHN Jackman.
We believe Lloyd Montgomery's role in this vist to Dolores by PHN Jackman was one of “minder” and “enforcer.” We believe a wrong word uttered by Dolores to PHN Jackman would have had a violent and painful price attached to it.
Note the last line: “Only one son living in Ireland, other children all living abroad.” Untrue: Emily, Nathaniel, Saoirse, Sean, Sophie and Ronan were all living in Ireland at this time. Conor was a very quick flight away. Only Alex and Kyle were living abroad.
PHN Jackman's notations in the margin are very revealing, also. She notes the land line doesn't work, that it was disconnected. This is also untrue. Nor would Ethan allow his mother to give her mobile number to the Public Health Nurse it seems. Effectively, he was cutting off access to Dolores from the HSE to a large degree, and controlling the limited access he could not prevent.
The isolation and abusive behaviour by Ethan towards her mother that had so shocked Saoirse in December of 2009 were indeed firmly established long before.
[Editor's note: The “TENS” machine referred to is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation machine. It uses mild electrical impulses to alleviate pain.
Regarding Dolores' lifestyle, we feel it appropriate to state again: Dolores was a very, very frugal woman. The nighties she wore during her hospitalization in 2010 for instance, were well over 25 years old. Dolores would keep and wear clothes left by her daughters when they had left home decades before. Dolores was not a person to lavish herself with anything. Yet she was very generous with others. She always had time (and more) for the Travelers who would stop at her door, and gave freely to charities throughout her life. Her well known love of reading Woman's Weekly Magazine is probably the height of Dolores' self indulgence. In 1981, that magazine would have cost Dolores 19p. By 1986, the price had risen to 30p. At the time of Dolores' death in 2010 the price was 87p, or about one euro.
The reader might think that Dolores solicitors of 25 years would be keen to understand this incredible disparity between Dolores' lifestyle and “her” current unusual spending habits. The reader would be mistaken. Jaggers and Brass (introduced in The Solicitors Letter ) many times expressed their willingness, once the Grant of Probate was received, to seek answers to these questions about Dolores' finances, and to grant authority (as Executors of Dolores' Will) to Dolores' children to do so themselves. It is indeed curious that once Probate was granted, they reneged on their previous statements and completely reversed their stance on the issue. Perhaps this is once again an indication of the very interesting relationship they have with their co-Executor, Ethan Maxwell. ]
Public Health Nurse Jackman received enquiries from Ethan and Lloyd regarding the Health Care Assistant requested for Dolores:
Thursday, July 16, 2009: “Phone call from Ethan/Lloyd enquiring re: HCA [Home Care Assistant] application - advised him that I would contact Dolores/family when the HCA hours were sanctioned.”
Friday, July 17, 2009 10:00am: “Phone call from Ethan/Lloyd - enquiring again re: HCA application - advised re: above again.”
Friday, July 17, 2009 2:00pm: “Phone call again from Ethan/Lloyd - enquiring again re: HCA application - advised re: above again and also that it is unnecessary to ring me everyday and that I would contact Dolores when I have the application sanctioned.”
Monday, July 20, 2009 9:45am: “Phone call from Ethan/Lloyd again - enquiring as per application. Advised as above.”
Tuesday, July 21, 2009: “ HCA hours approved for 45 minutes twice a week. HCA Vivian Chase introduced to client. Client happy with same. Application from County Council had arrived and she will send it to her son to fill in. Tried to ring son to inform him – unable to leave message.”
After all those calls from Ethan and Lloyd, it is a bit of a surprise that PHN Jackman finds it hard to reach Ethan the next day. The difficulty PHN Jackman and other HSE representatives have reaching Dolores' self-described “sole care giver” Ethan Maxwell continues throughout the remainder of 2009, and especially 2010.
On December 17, 2009, Geoffrey Blair calls PHN Jackman in response to hearing from Saoirse:
Thursday, December 17, 2009: “Phone call from Geoffrey Blair re: an email received from Saoirse Maxwell (daughter) expressing concerns about her mother's well–being and her brother Ethan's involvement in her mother's care. Advised Geoffrey of my involvement and dealings with Mrs. Dolores, her son and friend Lloyd Montgomery. Contacted HCA Vivian Chase – attended Tuesday, December 15, 2009 and stated that she was away for awhile. HCA informed me that Ethan Maxwell calls very regularly at weekends, but has never seen him. Informed Geoffrey Blair of same.”
Ethan was proactive regarding the HSE. On the very day Saoirse welcomed the Elder Abuse Caseworker back from holidays, Public Health Nurse Gwen Porter (who worked with Helen Jackman, and was the first PHN to visit Dolores) received a phone call concerning Dolores. Both Gwen Porter and Helen Jackman would write quite a bit about Ethan in their reports. Gwen Porter herself would make a referral regarding Dolores to the HSE Elder Abuse Caseworker, Geoffrey Blair.
Thursday, January 07, 2010: ““Phone call from [name redacted; Community Welfare Officer in Wexford] Re: letter he received from Dolores. re: a visit from Health Officer. Was wondering who it was and she is also concerned re: her daughter”
Saoirse was confident that Geoffrey Blair had enough information to act to protect Dolores. The only question was what form that would take. She was also hopeful that Geoffrey Blair would soon facilitate the family meeting she requested in December.
[Editor's note: We'll look at the letter the Community Welfare Officer received and forwarded to Geoffrey Blair, explore the HSE Elder Abuse and look into the role of an Elder Abuse Caseworker (among other things) when A Winter's Tale continues. It is called HSE Elder Abuse Investigation Continues.
As always, we seek and encourage anyone with knowledge of Dolores' life and/or the events presented here to contribute to this site. Memories, anecdotes, photos and documents are more than welcome. Clarification, correction and alternative views are encouraged and welcomed. Submissions ]