I didn’t know Ginger when she took a fall down the stairs in her home. They say she suffered brain trauma. Her elderly aunt – her only relative – couldn’t take care of her, so was advised to “conserve” her.
If you don’t know what it means to be “conserved,” here it is in a nutshell:
The courts take over your home, your possessions, your bank accounts, and your life. You no longer have autonomy, or agency over yourself.
Now, in a perfect world this would all be handled responsibly and with respect for the citizen being conserved; the intention would be to get them back to health and off conservancy. But this world is not perfect.
When Ginger was conserved, the court immediately took over her home, her car, and her bank accounts. She no longer had any rights as we know them. The court put her in what’s called a “group home.” Within the first six months, rather than seek Ginger’s restoration to health, the court sold her condo, raided her money, and her car disappeared. The car was later found parked in front of the Conservator’s office. Some say it was given to the Conservator’s son.
I heard about Ginger when I was advocating for a friend who it seemed had been wrongfully conserved. I learned that not only was she living in a group home, she was also in charge of dispensing medications to the other residents. Ginger was managing the home for the owners. The owners – who did not live there, and rarely showed up – got paid by the state. Ginger was paid nothing.
The day of the rescue we pulled up to a modest brick house. Ginger was waiting for us.
We moved quickly to get the car loaded up with her few possessions, because we were concerned that “someone” might catch us. And she was still “owned” by the state. Before we left, I told her to take pictures of her bedroom. She no longer had the beautiful bedroom suite from her townhome. Now she had a mattress on the floor, and her clothes were kept in a cardboard box and plastic drawers.
I took Ginger home with me and moved her into the blue bedroom. I watched her shoulders drop, heard her laugh, and that helped me know I’d done the right thing.
There was yeoman’s work to get her conservancy stopped, but I took on the job alongside Ginger … researching, making copies of documents, appearing in court on her behalf. In fact, my ass was in the crack now too, because I’d officially “kidnapped” a ward of the state.
Within the next few months, we went to court several times, and finally extradited her from the state’s control. One expert told us he had never seen that happen. “Once the state owns you, they pretty much always will.”
Ginger began the grueling work of building her life back. She no longer had a job, car, a home, or any furniture. That had all been liquidated by the state.
When she moved to a new residence closer to her good friend Mary Ann, I gave her the bed from the blue bedroom and the bedding that went with it. At least, I thought, she’d have that.
That was several years ago. I’ve talked with Ginger on the phone a few times, and she always sounded upbeat , positive and faith filled … her natural state. She began painting beautiful stained glass, and seemed to be fairing well.
When the news of her passing came yesterday, it knocked the wind out of me. My heart and mind are whirling with memories of her, the sound of her laugh, and her willingness to do the hard work necessary to make good things happen.
Some people may think kidnapping Ginger and helping her get out of that mess was a courageous thing to do. Others may call it stupid. But looking back, I’m not sorry.
And looking up, I know Ginger is free and happy … may God bless and keep her.