Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Honor of Allan (the Craig) Franklin

        When my mother lay dying she asked me to find her history for her. My father's was well known but she had always hungered to know her ancestors. I made promise to do this, even though we both knew it would not be before she died. 
         When we buried her I renewed my promise.  Each time I went to stand by her stone I spoke to her of what had been done.    This searching began in 1987.  Mother had died on September 15th.

         It was a struggle. Then, slowly, slowly, a drop at a time, a name, a line, a place, and then a gush of findings and names came out of the past into my hands through the work of cousins living and dead. I was grateful for their help. My promise was redeemed. 
        Then, a book arrived, purchased in the hope it would uncover the past and fulfill my pledge. Turning the pages, slow and careful, I found myself in a different world. The generations were many. Mother counted her descent from Robert the Bruce, through women and men, brave and good, hardened and determined.
         Reading their stories through the long stretch the time which divided us I learned of their struggles.  Their lives were harsh, demanding.  Of need, they bred their sons to be warriors of supreme skill and determination. Forced from their homeland to America they brought rememberings with them. 
          I discovered this in bare time to take the knowledge into the theater with me and see Braveheart. Robert the Bruce was just a name when the lights went dim. Into that theater came my husband, a Craig, who had boasted of his Highland blood. 

          When we left the dim light and the stilled screen we were both silent. He never again spoke of his roots. 

The Bruce redeemed himself; the Craig did not.  Wallace was dead, deceived and betrayed by the Craig. 

I would discover that Craigs breed true to their falsity. Some stories are too true to recount whole in one speaking. This is one such story.

Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Remember - Abigail, still in my heart and thoughts

I was dutifully cleaning up files on my computer when I opened, "Document3," an unnamed file in Amaranth, an organization which had meant a lot to me when I was active. It was a letter of condolence to a friend who had lost her son.  

Memories came flooding back.  The letter is dated November 11, 1997.  At that point in time I was spending most of my time with my son, Edi, who went back to using Arthur some time later.  

Shelley was having a bad time.  I knew it.  All of her friends understood.  The pain of others hits us, renewing our own times of grief.  I hand-wrote the letter, mailed it, and it stayed, untouched on my computer, transferring with other files through a varied succession of machines.  

Today I am so glad I opened Document3.  Instead of Delete, I put it in a special file, one dedicated to the little girl I lost in 1989.

In December of 1989 I went for what I believed would be one of the last visits to my obstetrician, Mr. Solomon, before giving birth to the baby I had already named Abigail. 

Her layette was ready, along with her crib and a collection of old and new toys to keep her occupied and happy.  Each of my children had a layette I made for them myself, along with gifts from friends and purchased items.  Abigail's baby book was already being used to chronicle my trips to the doctor and my thoughts about this baby, kicking and wiggling inside me.     

All of my children were breast-fed.  Abigail would be, too.   I was looking forward to this wonderful phase of mothering.  

Then my world fall apart.  Dr. Solomon put on the ultra-sound for a look at Abigail and she was not moving.  He asked when I had last felt her.  With a deep sense of panic I said I could not remember.  Tests followed, each one killing another bit of hope.  No heart beat, no anything.  Abigail had died. 

The next day I went to the hospital.  Yet another nightmare followed.  I wanted to have her buried but forgot to mention this with the rush to get me into surgery.  Later, I learned I was having problems which made this essential.  And after surgery Dr. Solomon told me he had had a hard time stopping the bleeding.  I would have to stay over night in ICU and suggested I take something to make sure I slept.  

I felt a rush of fear.  I knew if I went to sleep I would die, leaving my other children.  Undefined ugliness seemed to press in on me. I felt a stab of fear for them.  I refused to take anything.  Dr. Solomon, never dramatic, did not press it.   

Around 2am I felt myself lifting out of my body and had to focus on keeping myself connected.  I struggled to get the button to call the nurse and pressed it over and over again.  She came in, asking if I wanted the sleeping pill.  I told her to check my blood pressure. 

It was so low they called Code Blued me, calling in Emergency.  I was lying in a puddle of blood. 

Dr. Solomon later told me it was a very close thing.  In the upheaval I was told it was not possible to have Abigail's body to bury. 

I shudder with the horror of what my life would be like if Abigail had been born and raised by Craig, my then husband, who I now know wants nothing more than to have a baby girl he can raise and then rape and destroy.  I did not know what evil was until I accepted it can come hiding behind faces we believe in and trust.

I love you, Abigail.  I understand, now and forever.   

Letter to Shelley (Last name withheld) 

November 11, 1997

Dear Shelley,

Forgive me for not hand-writing this note. I was so sorry to hear about your son’s death and have wanted to get in touch every day - but honestly I did not feel equal to talking to anyone - taking your advice and making life as simple as possible, perhaps. 

I know what you are going through - not only did I come close to losing Ed, but I lost a child at birth and it took me a long, long time to recover from that. It was as if I kept looking around for some part of myself that was misplaced only to remember that I could never have it back again. I did not go through her clothes for a full two years and when I did, it was a renewal of the pain. The pain passed, not with time but with acceptance and gratitude for the short time I had her. I taught myself to remember the times I had sat, entranced at her movements within me, the joy I had experienced in making her clothes and her little bed. 

Eventually I arranged a memorial service for her. I lit a candle to her memory and thanked God for the time we shared. It did help. Then I started to see her in others and that helped most of all. 

Our children are not supposed to predecease us. It is unnatural, wrong, and unbearable. Every night, now that Edi is home, I slip into his room to look at him sleeping. I listen to him breathe. 

I don’t know what I can say to lighten your burden. He lived the life he wanted? Scant comfort. But some part of Abigail is still with me and I know that some part of your son will always be with you. Love is the most enduring thing that we, as humans create. It is really the root of everything and takes us back to our home, no matter how far we may stray. 

God bless. My thoughts are with you. 



Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Incident of the Gas Cap – Craig Franklin, Remembered

 A snippet from the book, Psychopaths – A Guide to Survival by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Eight Psychopaths, Ten Chapters 

NOTE:  Of course, Craig gets one whole chapter for himself but the other seven certainly know who they are.  


Let me say right now Craig Franklin, my former husband, was not stupid, not in the least. He continuously informed me and anyone else who he had known for as long as 90 seconds that his IQ was 180. Therefore, those looking for a reason the following incident took place must look for some other explanation. I have a few ideas myself, rest assured.

The Incident took place on a Friday evening after I had picked Craig up from work. He would have liked to drive himself but since he had, again, had his driver's license suspended for good and sufficient reasons, this was not possible. 

Endangering the lives of other people is not a victimless crime, take note. Issues of increased liabilities if he was caught were foremost in my mind.

Despite my pointing these ominous possibilities to him, and the impact on our already creaky finances, Craig did not see the need for a license to drive. It might seem to this was stuffy of me, but I understood, all too well, the problems encountered by individuals who decided to dispense with these small pieces of plastic.  So, although I do not think licensing of the right to drive is appropriate and affirm it is a v have one myself because the failure to do so is too high a cost in money and aggravation to contemplate. 

Craig and I had met at a Libertarian Convention in 1977. Most Libertarians disagree with the rules, grudgingly perhaps, but because it is easier to follow those which you cannot safely evade than paying the costs of ignoring them.

Craig was different. If I had known just how different my life would have been far more serene and less chaotic.

Craig also thought it should be unnecessary to file a tax return, evidently not minding a bit this ensured he would never receive an intact paycheck from his employer, Green Hills Software, Inc. Such is life. If you are interested in THAT story just read the link. It happened.

On this particular evening my former husband, Ron Foster, whose maiden name was Kellett, had been allowed to come to the house to play Dungeons and Dragons with the children he had allowed Craig to adopt so he would not have to pay child support. They were huddled around the dining room table peering at small pieces of cardboard when I drove in with Craig in the passenger seat.

The disagreement had started in the car just after I picked him up from his work at Green Hills Software, Inc., then located in Glendale, California. It had been a long journey home in rush hour traffic to North Hills. I was tired and still needed to go to the grocery store and shop so I could make dinner.

But first, the house needed some picking up. As I walked through the place, reassembling order from chaos, Craig accompanied me so he could continue to argue while he gulped down a snack.

As usual, he had made a bee-line for the refrigerator for some yummy concoction which would sustain him until dinner was ready. The epicurean delights he assembled included Cheez-Whiz, purchased just for him since no one else would eat it. This was slathered, or by preference extruded, on any kind of cracker or not too squishy thing which presented itself. Sometimes it joined globs of Ketchup on a thick slice of meat loaf.

But he really preferred very large portions so we never knew what would emerge as his most recent treat. Cheeze-Wiz was a frequent condiment on all of these constructions. He said it helped hold them together while he consumed them. This is probably true.

I wish I could remember what had started Craig off. Despite his claims of being the most ardent of Objectivists, and being the only living man to have stalked Ayn Rand, sitting for days in the lobby of her apartment in New York with orchids at the ready and a math treatise in his hands, Craig's arguments were never rational.

I kept picking up and straightening. Craig kept talking in louder and louder tones.

It suddenly occurred to me this would be an excellent time to go to the grocery store. Interrupting the flow of verbiage I told him I was leaving and went to get my purse.

When I re-emerged into the dining room a few minutes later the Dungeons and Dragons Saga had paused. All eyes were staring out the window. There, next to the back of the car stood Craig clutching something in his hand.

Ron laconically informed me, “He took off the gas cap.” Odd, I thought, dismissing this latest evidence of Craig's erratic behavior as I walked out, climbed in the station wagon and swung out of the drive way. In the rear view mirror I could still see him standing there, gas cap raised inquiringly.  

When I returned about 45 minutes later the D & D had resumed and Craig was firmly locked in the bedroom. He refused to emerge for dinner, which I left in front of the door for him.

It seems after I left Craig had walked back in the house looking perplexed. He then asked Ron, “How could she drive off when I have the gas cap?”

The question had been answered by the six year old in the room.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

If it is Justice You Seek - A Vision of the End Times

From a Waking Dream

Early Tuesday Morning, September 8, 2014

Statue of The Bruce, at Stirling Castle

Girdled in the plaid of the Bruce they laid their swords before Christ. Kneeling, their faces still glazed in the blue of battle, they pledged fealty to Him as they promised their souls to war upon the demons which oppressed His people.

Knowing from ages past this was appointed Christ accepted their duty and oath, blessing them and their battle for souls otherwise lost to God, His Father.

The Fall of Lucifer and his demons to Earth had penetrated the substance of God's people and this taint would be removed and His people purified.

These kilted men had been tempered by battle, marked with scars and the wounds which do not show on the skin.

I watched them from a distance through time, knowing them for kin. Heart to heart. Mind to mind and soul close to Him who died for all of us, yet in this shining moment stood before us, hands raised in blessing of their battles yet to come.

And I could feel the winds of Scotland cleansing me of care, leaving only the certainty those fallen with Lucifer, the demons who have afflicted us since the Fall, would be brought to choose. They would either turn to Christ, the Spirit and God, or be ripped from Earth, returned to their Master in Hell.

These, my kinsmen, knew I was among them, though divided by the roil of generations and centuries. In this moment we had made the same pledge.

Then, the Bruce, who they had followed to this place of peace and sanctuary, which also drew me, turned and spoke.

Daughter,” he spoke it soft and gentle but with the knowing which penetrates past bone to soul, “You have come to point us to them. This is your battle, not one of revenge but to carry to them the choice between salvation and the gnashing of teeth and flames of Hell. “

Nodding, I bowed my head, wondering, but accepting. Heads still bowed, I felt the Bruce, newly sanctified by Christ, touch my forehead with his hands, the same I had seen placed between the Hands which bore the wounds of the Cross.

Those who had followed the Bruce to this place of consecration rose, turning to me.

I found that my mind, which had been trapped in anguish and pain, was eased as I listened to the words they spoke.

I sensed, knew, and rejoiced. There would be justice even it if lay beyond the limits of their lives and mine.

The Time is Come.” I heard the echo of Christ and saw its strength and truth on the faces of these kinsmen who stood with me. “As they choose, so shall their fates be decided.”

And the Bruce smiled. “Your weapon is the truth. Use it.”

And as the glaze of morning light enveloped us I rose, consecrated to battle for the souls of Man, stolen by evil for this age.

My eyes opened and I found myself laying on my bed. The air around me seemed charged and different. Touching my forehead my finger found a something unexpected. Then, my eyes wondered at the tiny residue of blue.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Integrity - The Life and Values of Mark Palmer

Integrity – The Tool which enables success and prosperity.

                moral soundness; "he expects to find in us the common honesty and integrity of men of business"; "they admired his scrupulous professional integrity"
  1. Integrity as a concept has to do with perceived consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcome. People use integrity as a holistic concept, judging the integrity of systems in terms of those systems' ability to achieve their own goals (if any). Wiki
Through our choices we touch the world around us, changing the world through example and through the power of choices lived consistently. This is integrity, a measure of soul, spirit and mind.

Integrity in our choices, living transparently and accountably, allows those around us to know we can be trusted. When we choose to live in this manner we are free to experience ourselves without fear, we see the world differently.

This is the story of Mark Palmer, and how living with integrity allowed him to survive and prosper.

Mark Palmer suffered a brain injury at age15. In late1964 he was nearly killed in a collision with a bus, suffering a nearly fatal brain injury. He and his friends should not have been there, sixty miles from home. Telling their parents they were snow skiing they instead took a trip to downtown Detroit during rush hour. The driverhad been licensed to drive for only three days. They were enjoying a novel sense of freedom from parental oversight.

Mark was an ordinary young man who, in the aftermath of the accident, faced an extraordinary challenge.

Most people with TBI accomplish very little. Facing often-overwhelming problems, little is expected. Many commit suicide or care so little about the life remaining to them they recklessly throw it away, blaming others for their bad luck. Mark chose another way. Taking responsibility for the problems he faced while still in the hospital he began to take control of his own choices.

Even today little is known about traumatic brain injury, the challenges are too diverse and complex for anyone to predict with reliability what the TBI survivor will face.

During the first late night surgery the doctors opted to remove the splinters from Mark's brain, saying he had a 300 to 1 chance of living. Mark was in a deep coma for weeks afterward. He would remember nearly nothing of what had transpired during those weeks and nothing of the accident.

As Mark regained consciousness he became aware his parents wanted him home. Normally happy people, they were clearly distressed. Mark remembers wanting more than anything to see them smile. He was filled with the wish to make up for being someplace he was not supposed to be. He vowed to make up for his lack of responsibility.

Mark decided he would do whatever necessary so they could take him home. To be discharged, Mark had to feed himself, walk, and urinate.

Mark managed to walk by hanging on to his IV holder, pushing it along like a walker, each step a painful struggle. Urinating was the next item on the agenda. Mark discovered he no longer knew how to urinate. Refusing a catheter, he taught himself to go. It was excruciating, the first pain he remembered from the accident, and he had been in a coma for so long. The memory of the pain would remain with Mark for thirty years.

Taking a bite of food on his own also proved to be a challenge. The hospital required Mark manage at least one bite of food for himself. It took many tries for Mark to hit his chin with a spoon still full of oatmeal. His right hand was in a cast, but the left was paralyzed so his right hand did the work. Mark hit his shoulder, then his chest. After many attempts he got the side of his mouth. No oatmeal made it in, but it was enough. Seven people were standing there watching.

When he was carried in to his home the hole in his skull was still covered only by newly healed skin. His parents had shuffled bedrooms so he would not have to climb the stairs. Mark does not remember who fed him at home, but he knows it was not him. Over the next months he slowly taught himself to walk, very badly. Mark overcompensated in every way. Receiving no rehbilitation, he laid down a pattern for misusing his body which would result in years of excruciating pain.

His body had lost the fluid ease of youth and he leaned to one side, as if still expecting the impact of the bus.

Mark then experienced his second crisis. Everyone told Mark he would now live a, normal’ life, he was nearly recovered and had only to return to his old self. But there was no normal, old self in Mark. Instead, Mark now experienced the world through lenses which had changed forever. The hole in his head was healing and the hair on his scalp was beginning to grow again. Inside his mind, he was a different person.
Friends veered off and the new Mark found himself often alone.

During his weeks in the hospital he had received hundreds of cards from the people to whom he delivered the morning paper. Nurses read these to him, beginning before he was conscious. From a great distance he had heard the words. He knew he had been valued for doing a good job, for being reliable and contientious.

Mark was the kind of paperboy who makes sure your paper is close at hand and in good condition when you go out to pick it up. It was his job and he diligently tried to do this job well. Knowing this sustained him, becoming a measure he was to use over and over again.

Mark learned while still in high school it could be worst.

While sitting in his doctor's office, waiting to be seen, another patient, near Mark's age, also a victim of TBI, noticing his Algebra book told him sadly he could no longer do Algebra. Mark had his ability with math, even if his other classes had become much harder. Hearing this, Mark felt a surge of happiness at finding something intact.

Mark's problems were different. It took a long time to relearn the use of his muscles. His failures forced him to identify and work with each small muscle, individually, bringing it under his control. In this way he learned something very valuable. To accomplish the task at hand he had worked tirelessly. First, with help, Mark broke down each task by identifying smaller and smaller groups of the muscles and then learning all over again to control each one and then all of them together.

His body was one set of tasks. His mind was another, even more complex. At first he tried to believe when he was told he was now 'normal,' that his mind was working as it had before the accident.Then he accepted that the people he loved most were lying to him. .

When he returned to school he could see he was not keeping up with his class. What had been easy was now a struggle – but his teachers passed him anyway. He would have liked to believe all would be well but when he started college he knew parents, friends and teachers had lied to him for the kindest reasons. But these were still lies.

When Mark was 17 he began looking for a part-time job. He sought a job processing 100 lb sacks of newspapers but found the supervisor doubted he could do the work.

The papers, produced by the Catholic Weekly, were addressed to all subscribers, according to zip code and delivered to post office. The job was transferring the sacks to the delivery truck, which would then take the papers to the post office. To prove he could do the job Mark offered to work for free for a week. Half way through the day the circulation manager,Doug, said, "Mark, you can expect a check."

The muscle issues were solved first. The full impact of tthe damage hit Mark when he began college. He flunked out. Mark made a pact with himself. He could not discuss this with anyone because the people he loved, and who loved him, would have been shocked and hurt. But he would accept no lies, no matter how kind or hopeful. He would break all learning into smaller and smaller parts until he could understand, learn, and master the task at hand as he had done with his body.

Mark broke every task into smaller and smaller parts until he could understand and master each tiny, incremental bit. Each part would be completely understood, transparent. He would be responsible for making each part work.

The challenges continued to appear.

Grand Mal Seizues started a few months after Mark had returned home. While still in high school and college Mark suffered through seizures so violent every incident brought with it a new injury. Over the next years his seizures caused hundreds of dislocations of his arms, and other injuries almost without number. Working by himself, as usual, he learned to use pressure and gravity to pop the arms back into place.

The pain of urination continued. Mark learned the location of every rest room in any city he visited.

Mark's contined back problems and a ruptured disk, complicated by his seizures, resulted in back surgery. The levels of pain were immense, constantly with him. Despite the unremitting pain, for two years Mark refused mediation for pain. Blood levels for the medication for his seizures were never checked Only years later discovering that his body burned the medication at a rate that rendered it useless.

When Mark began work he automatially applied the same principles which had helped him survive. He ascertained the facts, did not evade the conclusions, and accepted it was up to him to find a way to make things work.

Mark married in 1969 and began to build a professional life for himself and his family. The couple had two sons and the same principles were applied to being a father.

Mark became an ever more observant student of the world around him and of people. Understanding others, what stopped them from successfully, carrying out their jobs, achieving their goals, the strategies they had adopted , received his dispassionate and intense attention.

Mark began categorizing these and determining how he, first as computer operator, a small company executive, to salesman, mnager and executive then consultant, could help them change their personal stragegies to successfully meet their goals.

In 1992 Mark was in Tokyo when both his shoulders went out at the same time. He remembers the taxi driver, who Mark told to pull over. The driver's shock as he watched Mark was palpable.

Mark got out of the taxi, braced himself on the hood of the car, and using gravity, popped both shoulders back in place, one at a time. Returning home, he decided it was time to have them fixed surgically. Before finding a physician Mark became an expert in the tecniques which would be used during his surgery.

Surgery was followed by another year of therapy.

Then Mark discovered how his pain impacted those he loved most.

Mark's wife came home one day and told him she had hired a landscaper. The next week she sold the lawnmower. She could no longer stand watching his struggle to cut the lawn, sleeping on ice, to alleviate the pain. Mark realized, for the first time, he was causing his wife pain.This was unacceptable to Mark.

The search for another physician, untried therapies and techniques, began anew.

The new physician laid out a regimen. X-raying Mark's shoulders the doctor prescribed massage therapy and recommended Mark begin a regimen of Rolfing. Rolfing, a technique to break up the adhesions between muscles and organs caused by trauma, continued weekly for 15 years.“You don't have a shoulder problem,” the doctor said, “you have a compensation problem.”

The physician was the first person who referred to Mark's condition using the words, 'brain injury.' His parents had never told him. Asked about this, Mark's father said harshly, “You didn't deserve it” His parents had concealed the truth out of a wish to protect their son, finally explaining to Mark why they had told him he was 'normal.'

Mark immediately went on line and began reading about brain injury. Again,he became an expert.

In 1996, now 47 years of age, Mark began rehabilitation for the first time. He relearned crawling and walking. His doctor suggested use of more diverse protocols. A Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation ( TENS)Unit became Mark's means to distract him from the pain brought on by the new regimen. Mark wore a TENS unit continuously for three years as his rehabilitation continued.

To force Mark to stand upright his Rolfer would stand on the table and pull his hair, excising old trauma from his body.
Understanding he could change himself gave Mark a wonderful sense of freedom, pride and accomplishment Ever since the accident Mark had stood and sat with a lean to one side. During the rehabilitation process he realized this originated from his attempt to brace for the impact with the bus. His body had remembered the moments he could never recall. Now, the lean was gone. His kids noticed he was standing straighter. Mark did not quit. He could see that, no matter how painful, the new techniques were working.

Pain is no longer a constant distraction in Mark's daily life now. But he has to work hard to keep it that way.
Mark still approaches life in this way today. Using the same techniqueS he had originated for his recovery had brought him far in business. In business, Mark used transparency and accountability, developing protocols to show others how to analyse their plans and practices with uncompromising honesty and transparency. They must, he told them, be accountable.

As a business consultant Mark teaches businesses how to become more profitable. He puts them through a process similar to the one he used on himself. Some find the process exausting. Others, frightening. But the process produces highly positive results.

While waiting for a plane Mark met a young woman when she spilled her coffee on his. She was, she explained, nervous, trying to rehearse her responses for a job she desperately needed. As they talked, Mark explained his approach. She thanked him. Some time later he received this note from her.

Dear Mark,
I wanted to thank you for all your support, after a lengthy and complicated job hunt there were plenty of people suggesting tactics which would not have been me or would have appeared fake.  You encouraged to play to my strengths by simply being me with some thought applied and it has certainly paid off.”

Working with sales staff, management, and company officers, the process forces them to identify the facts which kept them from succeeding. Using carefully designed protocols they hone in on the issues which have prevented or limited their success.

Mark's least successful sales management position left his client's company with 90% revenue growth. His most successful experience was a 400% ncrease in revenue growth.

Today, Mark is a highly successful consultant. He is also pain free for the first time in 50 years and he understands himself and those around him, their motives, their evasions, and their fears.

Each day his own regimen continues. Many normal body functions remain a struggle. If Mark becomes over tired his speech slurs. Over the years he has continued to lose his hearing. Each problem is approached with the same unrelenting tools. Mark still allows himself no excuse. He keeps researching developments in rehabilitation and on TBI, both for himself and for others.

Mark's sons grew up prizing their own self-sufficiency. Five grandchildren brighten Mark's life.

Mark's approach to his brain injury became his career and also a spiritual discipline. Using the same standards in all parts of his life Mark has lived a life founded on integrity, spelled out in action. By so doing Mark has demonstrated to thousands of people the power of these values to our lives.

Robert Frost's, “Two Roads Diverge in a Yellow Wood,” is Mark's favorite poem. Instead of taking the first road, Mark says he took the second. Assuming nothing, Mark has accepted only the facts since the moment he realized transparency was his only path to a life not limited by his injuries. Mark accepted no limitations, instead embracing his own power, something sensed the moment you meet him.

Far too often we ignore the power of the values and ideas we choose to shape both our lives and the future all of us will share. One choice, one value at a time, we are building the future today.

Mark Palmer's consulting site is Mark has also written a book for the victims of traumatic brain injury and their and families titled, “Realistic Hope.” Mark discovered early that all parts of our lives need integrity. Mark serves on the board for Jodi House, a not for profit in Santa Barbara serving the TBI community there.

This series takes real stories and people, using them to illustrate the principles of Integrity.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

You're Not Paranoid – The IRS is out to get you.

This April 15th Remember the Sad Saga of Craig Franklin

The IRS lurks out there for all of us. Like a vampire of legend it hovers, rapacious teeth gleaming, waiting to pounce, sucking the life's blood from our veins. Most people experience a shiver of fear when a letter from the IRS arrives. Given the propensities of that institution, passed into law though never actually ratified in 1913, the fear is understandable.
But some people are more frightened than others.
One such individual was my former husband, Craig Franklin. Craig not only feared the IRS as other people do he was phobic on the subject. That phobia took a form that made it impossible for him to file his yearly return. This is not to say someone else then had to do it for him. He made sure it was not done no matter what.
I found out about this state of affairs very early in 1997 while going through the 29 boxes sequestered in his office at work. I had found out there was a problem with the IRS and State Franchise Tax Board when Craig came home and announced that he had paid thousands of dollars to a legal firm, Brown & Associates, to save him. Craig collapsed onto the bed. It creaked.
That explained a lot. For instance the irregularity of his paychecks. I realized he, we, were being garnisheed. We were approaching foreclosure, bankruptcy, and emotional melt down. Craig had paid the folks at Brown & Associates and then refused to give them information so they could do their job, saving him from his own non-filing.
When a husband is sobbing, whimpering and fouling the coverlet no decent wife does anything but figure out how to fix the problem. I did that. Eventually, the IRS would refund the nearly $200,000 they had grabbed over the years, making up returns when no money had ever been owed, even by their standards. But when Craig was laying there burying his leaking face in the pillow I did not yet know why the problem existed. I thought we had filed. Craig had made sure that all correspondence went to his work; he had kept every piece of mail from both the IRS, the State Franchise Tax Board, and various other institutions in the previously mentioned boxes along with dirty underwear, personal correspondence, old food, and a truly astonishing selection of other items.
Do we ever really know anyone?
But still, he was my husband and, tas he mother of five, I did not intend to let any bully on the face of the Earth reduce him into a cowering and quivering bowl of jelly. In box No. 9 I found the unfiled tax returns I had insisted be filled back in 1987 when he and I were first married. We were a merged family and, both Libertarians, were well aware of the threat represented by the IRS.
All rational people are afraid of the IRS. I was entirely rational on the subject. Craig was not.
Over the next three months I had many conversations with IRS agents. Slowly, a pattern emerged. I discovered from that series of cheerful thugs that people, like Craig, who cannot file the return are not at all rare.
Finally, having listened to another story of a suicide and the dissolution of another life I asked, “So, you are saying this is like a...the person has an emotional disability?” “Exactly!” Said the agent, cheerfully as we went on to other subjects, for instance why we were now being dunned for more money we did not owe.
As soon as I had compiled the information in those 29 boxes and managed to get the material to my tax accountant the completed returns began to be filed. I continued to beg for time. I interject that the IRS is not a fount of compassion. I began also to reflect on Craig's life before we married. The tax non-filing was of long duration. He had never filed previously, not once since graduating from Stanford with a shiny new degree in Mathematics.
He had not filed while at NASA, Data General, SAS Institute or any of the other impressive places that employed him. But he had gotten stock options, options he had never stayed long enough to exercise. Pause to consider how much money he left behind when he moved on after just two years or so after receiving major chunks of options. Huge. That explained many things, for instance his inability to produce the tax loss documents for Liberty Services, the 'company' founded to fail but provide computer services for the Libertarian Party in 1979 or so. Ten years later, when I was on the National Committee, angry investors/donors were still putting the subject on the agenda. Craig had no answer, he just refused to discuss the subject.
Finally I realized that Craig had a disability. He was emotionally incapable of filing. By ignoring this disability the IRS was oppressing him, forcing him to do something of which he was provably incapable. Just like insisting a paraplegic run the Triathlon.
I made an appointment for Craig with a well-reputed therapist. The letter below was the result.

Re: Craig Franklin
To Whom it May Concern

I have been asked to write a letter to explain the behavior of Craig Franklin regarding his failure to file tax returns. I have seen Mr. Franklin several times and believe I have a thorough understanding of why he is not filing even though it is costing him money not to do so.
Mr. Franklin is extremely intelligent. But he cannot deal with authority figures. He uses several rationalizations to justify this behavior including an arrogant assertion that, “he should not be bothered with every day tasks.” But the source of these attitudes is imbedded in his early childhood. He cannot deal with authority. Anything is preferable. The more authority and pressure he feels the more he is compelled to respond with inaction.
He is extremely angry, and expresses that rage through his refusal to bend to others wished, rules or demands. The IRS and Franchise Tax Boards being just two more authority figures he is compelled to resist.
What is most remarkable about Craig’s behavior is the compelling nature of his resistance. He is literally incapable of paying his taxes. He realizes that he has paid far more money to the government than he would have is he had filed. However, he is still adamant over his refusal to deal with the reality of taxes (and other compelling realities as well).
He has now turned over the responsibility for the taxes to his wife, and arrangements have been made for her to receive and handle ALL correspondence.
If I may be of further assistance in understanding Mr. Franklin, please contact me.”

Then I wrote to the Collections Agent. Here is the letter.

“Dear Sir,

I was directed to contact you regarding my husband, Craig Franklin, and his non-filing. Craig has never filed a tax return. He is unable to do so even though, with levies and penalties, he pays much more than he owes, because of an emotional disability. I enclose a copy of a letter I wrote a few weeks ago that gives a run-down of the situation as I understood it then.
Since that time I have learned that the phobia is actually specific to authority figures. Craig cannot deal with authority figures. Finding this out explained much of his employment history. He left company after company because of conflicts with his employers. This has also cost him because he was never able to cash out when the company went public - and yet was so valuable an employee that he often received large shares of stock options. Craig has made many people wealthy.
I enclose a letter from Craig’s therapist. Craig will never be able to file taxes or do many other things that are normal and expected. But because of his enormous intelligence he has been able to conceal his problem.
I have worried from time to time that he was an alcoholic or on drugs - but I had never heard of anything like this and neither had his therapist. We are considering a conservatorship for him. But I now handle all matters relating to his taxes. It is the only way we can function.
You might well ask why I didn’t notice what was happening to our finances. Craig has proven to be a skilled liar and manipulator willing to do and say anything to conceal his problem. Also, we together have six children and I have always had my hands full with the them and with a series of disasters. These included the death of my mother to cancer in 1987, my own near death in 1989 and the death of our last child., Abigail. In 1992 my father died, in 1993 Craig’s mother died, in 1994 we suffered severe losses on our home in North Hills. The estimate for repairs was $250,000. It took two years to have it repaired during which time we were paying the costs of both houses. Then just months after the earthquake my older sister had a heart-attack in Japan. I flew over to find that she was brain dead. And that was only the beginning of that story.
I tell you this not to elicit sympathy but to explain how I could have overlooked what was going on.
We have four children in college and another in junior high school. We are still supporting our oldest daughter, Morgan, who has never entirely recovered from an automobile accident in 1991 and who was unable to work at all for four years. She was rear-ended by a school bus at a school crossing. Craig’s brother handled her claim and consequently she received nothing. (He filed too late.) She is now somewhat better and trying to find employment. My middle son also had a drug problem in 1993 - that took an enormous amount of my time for I don’t know how long.
So, this is what was happening while Craig’s weight swelled and his health plummeted. Since he couldn’t deal with the problems his disability raised he escaped into work and eating. When he was diagnosed he looked terrible. We re really fortunate that he did not die of the stress.
Since I have taken over he had improved enormously. But this has not been good for me. Both of my sisters died of heart attacks, Anne, as I mentioned in 1994 and Carol in 1974. Their ages were 59 and 36. Two years ago my younger brother had open heart surgery. I am now under a doctor’s care for my heart.
What I want is to resolve this so that we can have a normal life, or as normal as possible given Craig’s condition I really wish that the IRS or the Franchise had charged Craig with non-filing. I thought that was what happened eventually. If the IRS had charged him he would have received the care he needed years ago - and spared all of us incredible suffering.
Craig’s non-filing arose not from any unwillingness to file but from an inability to file. If you read Dr. XXXXXXX’s letter this is clear. Since that is the case we should not have to pay any penalties - or interest.. Most especially since we never owed anything.
This is what I want. I want out from under the mountain of debts that Craig’s condition has caused. A refund of the excess payments would help.
People like Craig who are disabled from childhood are unable to do certain things. Some people have no legs and therefore cannot dance. Craig cannot deal with authority in any form and so cannot file his taxes.
This had been a very difficult letter to write. Thank you for your prompt attention in this matter.”

We had been told by various professionals that we would be paying additional penalties for years, the time ranged from three to five. No one, especially Craig, could believe it when the checks, one for each year, began appear in the mail box. Craig had said to me, “If you can make that work then you should get the money for yourself.” But to our son he said, “Your mother is nuts!!!! No one can beat the IRS.”
But I was pretty darn sure that this was a case the IRS would want buried, and I was right. But what I did not realize that in the convoluted mind of Craig Franklin, I, having beaten the IRS had shamed him and would now play a very unwilling part in the next portion of the disaster movie that is his life.
We call that segment, Divorce, Misho Style for reasons that will become obvious. The Sad Saga of Craig continues to clarify with astonishing insights into the condition of psychopathy and corporate greed. You can read about Green Hills Software, and their president, Dan O'Dowd, Craig's co-conspirator along with others, in these articles. 

The IRS is scary but not nearly as much so as some people I know.