Dorothy Wilson, who was 86 years old that November 2010, was pleading with anyone who would listen to help convince Mary Giordano, of Franchina and Giordano, in Garden City, NY, to release her from her unwanted stay at the Bristal Assisted Living Facility in Massapequa, NY. I felt it was the right time to write this article because as Thanksgiving approaches I have clear memories of Dorothy’s tears streaming down her cheeks as she could not understand why she was being locked up in a place against her wishes. She made it very clear that she wanted to be back in her own home or living with her favored daughter, Diane, in her warm, beautiful and safe abode. Instead, her “law” guardian, Mary Giordano, appointed by Judge Joel Asarch of the Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola, NY, vehemently opposed releasing Dorothy for even a few hours on Thanksgiving itself. Knowing that there was a lot of family tension, Mary “allowed” the family to come to the facility if they wanted. Obviously, this was not practical since this is a day of joy and gatherings, memories and memory-making times as most families cook and celebrate in their personal environment.
This also came on the heels of being forbidden to attend her only great-granddaughter’s christening. The date that Dorothy was brought to the Bristal, under false pretenses, was made during the week just prior to the weekend that she was supposed to be with Diane for the visitation that was previously set up. This is why the special sacrament was scheduled on the date it was. Everyone wanted Dorothy to celebrate this once in a lifetime event to bring together the four generations of Wilson women. It goes without saying that there were many tears shed from Dorothy and her loving family. I am also “aware” that Mary Giordano’s dictatorial approach was met with unanimous disagreement by everyone at her law firm.
The month of November 2010 was filled with letters, phone calls and attempts to awaken Judge Asarch to the abuses that his oft used court appointed guardian and healthcare manager were perpetrating. No matter how many attempts were made to have him use some commonsense to let an aging woman be free to enjoy her family for a religious ceremony, as well as the most recognized national holiday for families, he ignored everything. Even letters to the New York State Bar Association that were accompanied with recordings of Dorothy Wilson’s phone calls crying and begging her daughter, Diane, to be taken out of the Bristal so she could have her civil rights restored were ignored.
Her stay at the Bristal is a story of deceit all by itself. When a letter was written by Mary Giordano to the judge, it said in part, “The cost of the Bristal is approximately the same as the current expense for her live in aide.” At that time, the cost to maintain her in her own home with an aide’s assistance was approximately $4000.00. However, after much wrangling by Diane to get her Mom released, in open court, when asked by the judge what the total cost was for Dorothy’s stay at the Bristal, Mary Giordano replied “$53,000” on two separate occasions. The total stay was thirty-three days. According to witnesses, both times all the judge did was weakly nod his head in an up and down motion.
From a spiritual perspective, it astonishes me that this type of behavior can occur so easily. Having the privilege to have met Dorothy myself on a number of occasions, I can tell you that I watched the vibrancy and loving spirit of this woman be drained out of her by the willful and greedy actions and attitudes of people who had no right poking their business where it did not belong. Instead of protecting her, as was her God given and legal right, she was denied all due process of law and human concerns for someone who, at her age, earned the right to have that respect given to her. Through all that Dorothy endured, I know that she would still want all other people to enjoy the love of their family for Thanksgiving, as well as all other holidays, even though her last Thanksgiving on earth was taken from her.
One must wonder why some people think they are entitled to be judge and jury over the lives of the very physical beings they are supposed to protect. While those who have been caught up in the hardships and heartbreaking agony that guardian abuse causes, it is up to the rest of society to invoke their personal disdain for it when they come across legitimate cases. Innocent citizens like Dorothy Wilson, Richard Maas, Gary Harvey and their loving families should never have to endure being treated inhumanely or as though they are material assets. All of them have good hearts and souls. They have rights that had and continue to be systematically violated. The voices of all good people should not be silenced!
While Mary Giordano hid behind Judge Asarch’s robe with her usual heartless demeanor, it pains me to think that her partner Emily Franchina could be equally as thoughtless. Perhaps she wasn’t, but was either too blinded by money or too spineless to have taken a stand for what the right thing to do in life is. Such is the way that the corrupt guardian abuse system works. Until people in a position of power or with a prominent voice in the media have the courage to reel in those who skirt the laws, we may all find ourselves a victim at some point in our lives. Life for all people would be better served if everyone lived by the principles of the Golden Rule.