Category Archives: Life
It’s shocking how much can happen over the course of two weeks. These last two weeks in my life have been highly stressful and emotional, and it all went down with a single phone call.
The Phone Call
On Monday, June 26, 2017, I began receiving numerous phone calls and text messages from someone asking if I knew a Brenda Gibson. Not recognizing the number, I was hesitant to answer but the person kept persisting. Finally that evening, I texted the number back asking, “Who are you and what do you want?” I received an immediate reply of, “This is Zohar. Do you know Brenda Gibson?” My first thought: What the fuck is a Zohar? I replied, “That is my estranged mother.” After a pause, the phone rang, the caller ID the same number.
Upon speaking with this Zohar, he informed me that he was a real estate broker and had seen a listing of a house up for auction. The address he gave me was the house I grew up in down in Fort Lauderdale. He informed me that he was trying to locate my mother and grandmother, whose name was listed as the owner, because the house had been foreclosed and was going to auction the next morning at 10 a.m. He also said he’d interviewed the neighbors who said they hadn’t seen either of them in at least a year.
As I was trying to process all this information, he also informed me that neither party could be located and told me I had 16 hours to locate both my mother, the owner, and my mother, her power of attorney. Not only that, I had to be in Fort Lauderdale at 10 a.m. to appear in court and stop the sale so that he could buy the home, refurbish it, and re-sell it, allegedly to split the profits with my mother and grandmother. This guy immediately threw my red flags up as being an underhanded real estate shark looking to prey on the elderly.
I told him first of all, I do not live in the area so there is no way I am jeopardizing my job to take off, go out of town, and go to court on the word of someone I have never even heard of. I asked him to provide me any proof of what he was claiming and he did not provide any, only further pushing me to do the impossible within just a few hours time. This utterly pissed me off and I hung up on him, beginning my own research.
The first thing I did was to look up this person who called. All I had was a first name and a phone number, which turned up a real estate sales license to a Zohar Gazit with a home office in Hallandale, FL. The license was only issued at the end of May this year, so that was another red flag. His phone number also came back as a Google Voice number. Red flag #3. He’s also associated with a relatively new LLC called Florida State Trust LLC, Premier Mortgage Lending (as a sales person, which is where the Google Voice number answers), as well as President of Nahar Investment Corp. There are eight company associations altogether, the most recent being formed only 5 months ago.
Putting this agency/broker to the side, I then called on a friend in my grandmother’s area to help me do some research. We turned up the auction listing and other documents, including an affidavit from the foreclosing bank’s attorney in which they hired a process server to locate and serve my grandmother the foreclosure papers however the statement from December 2016 showed she could not be located and her death could not be verified. So there was one mystery. The second mystery is that my mother was afraid to leave the house and did not go out, so where could she be? I knew she was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, so the first place I started checking was area hospitals, none of which would confirm her presence. Next, I tried assisted living facilities, psychiatric facilities, and hospices for both women, and still came up with nothing.
After the area facilities were exhausted, I moved on to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. I received a response e-mail from them advising me to reach out to one of two contacts, which I called the next morning. To my utter shock, the Lieutenant told me he couldn’t file a missing person’s report because it had “been too long” since they were last seen. Since when does that matter? I told him these were two seniors, both mentally and physically disabled, and were MISSING since their home got foreclosed a year ago. He said all he could do was run their names through a database but he wouldn’t file a missing person’s report. I still can’t believe how uncaring he was but for my own protection, I will not give his name here.
On to some better resources I hoped, I also reached out to the Sun Sentinel and Channel 7 News, neither of which ever responded to me. I then reached out to numerous elder-centered organizations in the area and left voice mail after voice mail, as I was trying to do all this research outside my working hours, which left me very limited in actually reaching offices that were open after I got off work.
I was not getting anywhere. The time for the auction had come and gone and the house was sold to the highest bidder. Along with the house, everything in it, including 60 years of family history, now belonged to a corporation who purchased it to flip it and make some quick money. I thought my dealings with Zohar were over at that point, but this was only the beginning.
Zohar placed several calls to me that day with a new plan: Find my grandmother, get a lawyer, declare the sale invalid because there was now an heir, let him buy the house, flip it, and split the profits with me. He said he was going to send me a contract of our “partnership” that I should sign and overnight to him. More deadlines, he needed this done right away. Needless to say, no contract ever showed up.
When questioned about this alleged contract, he changed his story again, saying he was going to have his associate “Richard” draw up a contract, drive it up to me, have me sign it and get it notarized, and drive it back down to him. We’re talking a 4 hour round trip and I work during the day. I thought: Who in their right mind does business like that? I told them both on the phone if you’re sending me anything, just send a PDF that can be signed electronically. Why would they go through all that trouble when e-mail is instant and secure? Another red flag. Zohar then wanted a copy of my ID to “verify my identity.” Hah – NO. Sorry, but NO. Another red flag.
Once again, no paperwork arrived. I still couldn’t get any information out of Zohar, including any attorney information or Richard’s last name or phone number. So for the third or fourth time, Zohar’s story changes and now he tells me that this Richard associate of his has secured an attorney who specializes in foreclosures and probate and that this attorney would work the case on contingency, requiring zero funds from me and that Zohar would pay for everything needed to have the house put in my name as heir and that we would not split the proceeds of the flip between Zohar, myself, and the attorney. Um…. it doesn’t work that way. Again, I was waiting for an e-mail from the attorney and again, no documents ever arrived. Are we surprised?
At this point, I’m done with Zohar and I just want to find my grandmother. I accept that the house is gone. It’s not the first time I’ve lost everything and my mother and grandmother had no way to upkeep the house anyway, as it needed too many major repairs, including electrical, plumbing, and roofing. My mother and I have never had a relationship and in her last letter to me, she blatantly told me never to contact her again (this is all over my being close to my father and their own personal issues that she cannot separate me from). So, all that remained was finding my grandmother.
The break came the next Friday morning, July 7. I received a call from the Aging and Disabled Resource Center. They were more than willing to help me and within just a few minutes, they were able to provide me with both my mother’s and my grandmother’s forwarding addresses and contact numbers. Their last known addresses showed that my mother was in assisted living in Lauderhill and my grandmother was in a nursing home in Tamarac. This is odd because it’s the first time in their lives that they’ve been separated. My friend called both places while I was at work (silently freaking out), and let me know on my next break that she was able to verify both of them at the locations given. She even provided some additional information.
I immediately called both places and asked to be put on their emergency contact lists. I then was able to speak with my grandmother by phone who, even at 89 years old and after several years, still remembered me and my daughter and wanted to see us. Heartbreakingly, she informed me she had lung cancer and had been in the nursing facility for a year. The good news is her mind is still sharp as a tack and she only has little lapses of short term memory loss now and then. Otherwise, she’s mentally good.
She also told me that people were there in her room to talk to her about the house. Now this was a real red flag. Regrettably, I’d given both their forwarding addresses to Zohar under the stretch of an idea that he actually was going to do something to reverse the sale. He knew however that my mother was my grandmother’s power of attorney and that my grandmother could not deal with any of this on her own. Within two hours of having the address, people were there in person harassing and confusing my grandmother before I’d have a chance to get down there. I sent Zohar a text and a voice mail and got no response.
Saturday morning, July 8, my daughter and I along with my sister in law began the two hour drive to my grandmother’s nursing home. Once we got there, she recognized us instantly and we spend 3 hours talking with her. She caught us up on what was happening with my mother, who was not there at the time, but she was unable to tell me who was in her room yesterday about the house. I hope she didn’t sign anything – she doesn’t remember.
This all goes back to Zohar because he is the ONLY other person who had her address. Currently, I am drafting a formal request to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Real Estate with a full account of the situation, his associates, his associated companies, and his license number to be investigated and prosecuted in the attempt to defraud my elderly grandmother by bypassing her power of attorney and her heirs regarding the foreclosed home that she owned since circa 1960. I also have my own legal support system involved, so this will be done right. To date, he still has not returned any phone call, text, or e-mail but I am following this matter very closely. I vow to protect my grandmother against underhanded dealings by any means necessary.
What a whirl of a week this has been. Summer is in full swing and with it, the heat and the storms that I so love about Florida. Even living a stone’s throw from the beach, I still haven’t had the opportunity to get out much. When I can, I enjoy every second of the scent of the salt water, the wind, and the sounds that make Vitamin-Sea such a vital part of a healthy spirit.
Photo on Hutchinson Island, Florida, credit: Heather Noel (LifeInPawPrints).
Summer plans have gotten off to a slow start, mainly due to finances and unstable hours at work. It’s the slow season so where I was hoping for overtime, there hasn’t been any and there’s always a chance of being volunteered to go home early, so that make it hard to plan some things, not knowing how much a paycheck will be when it’s all said and done. BUT… I’m working on other financial fixes, they’re just being stalled by a very slow legal process which is driving me mad. I always found it ironic that it costs SO MUCH to fix money problems. Perfect example: Bankruptcy. Hundreds of dollars to file, yet if you’re truly bankrupt, you don’t have hundreds of dollars to file, or you wouldn’t be bankrupt. The legal system is twisted and distorted to work against the people, not for the people, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant altogether.
My daughter had wanted to get a job this summer at Publix but even after applying and following up, she was not not called back. They will hire at 14 but she may have a better chance when she turns 15 in a couple weeks. She’s already worked there unofficially, bagging for her grandmother who worked as a cashier, so one store’s staff already knows her. That’s always a plus. But until something comes through for her on employment, she is enjoying the first weeks of summer with me and my partner, his mother and sister. We keep her busy with the art studio, the gym, DIY projects… there’s always something to do. Plus, she gets to sleep in to her heart’s content 🙂
Projects for me include getting some flowers planted (though I’m a couple months late in doing so!) and building a container garden that won’t fall apart like the last attempt. Aside from the seaside, gardening is good medicine for my often bitter spirit. It takes me out of the world and back into the basics of life. I like sowing, I like producing, and I like the idea of making something useful out of nothing. Growing things does that for me. Trouble is finding a place to grow where all the animals won’t destroy my work. Chickens and raccoons are great at getting onto and into places they shouldn’t be!
Suppose that’s it for now. This heat is making me grouchy. Normally I love this house (basically an open-air wood cabin type historic house – no AC – central or window shakers) but summers are a real bitch. There’s no escaping the heat. Even the shade is brutal.
Hi kids! Today we take a moment to remember that quiet, alone time can be a GOOD thing! It means not having to wake and work around 4 other schedules, being able to watch TV (specifically a documentary on minimalism) until 2 a.m. because I wasn’t tired yet. It means sleeping in til 9 a.m. and having the cats forgive me the moment I gave them milk with their breakfast. It means being able to listen to Ani DiFranco on iHeartRadio while I take my time going through the morning news.
Sits in his 37th floor suite
And swivels to gaze down
At the city he made me in
He allows me to stand and
Solicit graffiti until
He needs the land I stand on
In my darkened threshold
Am pawing through my pockets
The receipts, the bus schedules
The matchbook phone numbers
The urgent napkin poems
All of which laundering has rendered
Pulpy and strange
Loose change and a key
Go ahead, ask me if I care
I got the answer here
I wrote it down somewhere
I just gotta find it
I just gotta find it
Somebody came on too heavy
Now look at me made ugly
By the drooling letters
I was better off alone
Ain’t that the way it is
They don’t know the first thing
But you don’t know that
Until they take the first swing
My fingers are red and swollen from the cold
I’m getting bold in my old age
So go ahead, try the door
It doesn’t matter anymore
I know the weak hearted are strong willed
And we are being kept alive
Until we’re killed
He’s up there the ice
Is clinking in his glass
He sends me little pieces of paper
I don’t ask
I just empty my pockets and wait
It’s not fate
It’s just circumstance
I don’t fool myself with romance
I just live
Phone number to phone number
Dusting them against my thighs
In the warmth of my pockets
Which whisper history incessantly
Where were you
Wishing I could cry more
And care less,
Yes it’s true,
I was trying to love someone again,
I was caught caring,
This country is too large
And whoever’s in charge up there
Had better take the elevator down
And put more than change in our cup
Or else we
Recently (meaning a couple months ago), NPR did a report featuring workers who go to work sick. For the majority, it was mainly older employees who tended to stay home while the younger workers were more apt to push through their illness to not miss work.
The major difference between these two groups were the ones who tended to stay home were those who had tenure and got paid sick time off or would otherwise not be punished for taking time off. This was the older set. Of those interviewed in the younger set, they told the reporter they almost always went to work sick because they did not have paid (or even unpaid) sick time that they were allowed to use. Illnesses ranged from painful migraines to colds, flu, and other contagious illnesses that involved vomiting and diarrhea at work. Those who went to work sick said they did so because they could not afford to lose the pay or their jobs.
I was reminded of this radio spot as I forced myself to go to work sick today out of the same fear. I’d called out the past two days with severe bronchitis but could not afford a write-up for missing any more time, so I stuck it out. I ended up getting worse throughout the day because I wasn’t able to rest or take the medications that I have been at work – they put me to sleep. Upon returning to work today, I also heard from several others that they’d had to call out sick this week too for the same thing and I know where it came from. One person who came in sick 2 weeks ago coughing up a storm and even bragging about having the flu and still working.
The question is: where does someone who lives paycheck to paycheck draw the line between going in sick and staying home for their own health and others? Is it worth losing money or even your job to keep others safe? How do you handle it? Comments are welcome.
SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #40
I’m jumping in just a bit late here (OK 10 months late) because a: I just discovered these prompts and b: if I don’t start now, then when?
#1: If you have been to a foreign country name those you have been to?
I have skirted around Cuba and the Bahamas but the place I actually spent considerable time and never wanted to leave was Quintana Roo, MX. It was on a honeymoon cruise in 1997 and we entered Cozumel through Playa del Carmen. Admittedly, I was disappointed at first because it felt no different than being in Miami. The first thing I saw off the boat was a Burger King and a Daquiri bar popular in the ‘States. Liberating ourselves from the tourist trap however, we were transported into a whole new world of single lane dirt roads, quiet villages, and some of the nicest people I have ever met. Even with a language barrier, there was still understanding, kindness, generosity, and genuine welcome.
#2: Is the glass half empty or half full? What type of glass is it and what is in the glass?
This question has always irked me because it forces one to be judged in such a closed-ended, black-and-white manner that really isn’t realistic. Our moods change, our personalities change, our momentary stimulus changes and the answer can be different every time, leaving us wrongly judged because we are just being judged in the moment.
I see it this way: The glass is halfway to whichever direction the contents were traveling. If it was in the process of being filled, then it is half full. If it was in the process of being drank or poured out, then it is half empty. It isn’t about what *I* think. It’s about the facts happening around the situation and leading up to it. There are always other facts to consider. Is it half full or half empty? “It’s just half.”
Incidentally, it should contain a good, hearty, merlot.
#3: If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?
Sushi, hands down. It’s a dish that can be created endless ways under one label, it’s fresh, it’s clean food, and can be nutritionally dense. I could easily live off sushi.
List: List at least five places worth shopping.
As one who doesn’t shop often, this will be difficult…
1. Local farmer’s market (downtown, Saturdays)
2. Nelson Family Farms
3. Local artisans
4. Local art galleries
5. Any small business with a quality product or service
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
I’m grateful I got to spend some quality time with my daughter, especially now that she is getting to the age between being a little girl and wanting her teenage freedom. This week coming up will be hella busy at work because open enrollment for Medicare Part D is starting, so we are gearing up with parties and all types of goodies for the crazy time ahead.
I had some weird dreams that continued to play out as I woke up throughout the night and kept falling back asleep. Must have been the migraine…
I was somewhere, not sure where, and someone was preparing their house for the end of the world. They had the house set up for 130 people in the basement, and I didn’t believe any of it was going to happen. They had all the provisions though the people would have been crammed wall to wall. This guy seemed like some kind of false prophet, tall and charismatic.
Dream broke to me having to accompany some woman down to a Walgreens several miles away. It was raining and we were on bicycles, she had her two kids with her riding in a basket on the back. I realized I had forgotten my inhaler and wanted to turn back but she wouldn’t let me. I went into a minor panic attack and tried to breathe my way through it. We got to Walgreens and her male friend who appeared out of nowhere directed me to this “doctor” who would give me a new inhaler.
It took me a while to find this “doctor” and it was getting dark out. It ended up being a house, and the “doctor” ended up being some weird hippy kid who just happened to have a stash of generic meds. He acted very cocky and cool like he didn’t have to help me because I was disturbing him (from what I have no idea because he wasn’t doing anything), then finally gave me something that, after reading the label, I realized I could have just gotten over the counter. Then he crawled back into bed and his mom came home.
Since it was getting dark and I didn’t want to walk 3.6 miles (according to my phone’s GPS – at least I remembered to grab my phone!) alone during the impending zombie apocalypse, I sat in his room for a while, then when his mom came home, I rummaged through his stuff, found an inhaler, and headed off back to the safe house. Was dark when I got to the safe house and people and their pets were all filing in under the direction of the home’s owner. There were no other homes around this place, it was just a regular single family home standing along a sidewalk with nothing at all surrounding it. I ended up opting not to go into the safe house and the dream ended there with no end of the world happening.
Leave it to me to forget my inhaler during the zombie apocalypse.