Mom was having a really hard time dealing with her financial situation by the beginning of 2010. She was paralyzed with fear about going bankrupt and had already been forced to move into an apartment after the bank foreclosed on her house. She would go for weeks without opening her mail and then be surprised when her power was disconnected or her cell phone stopped working.

In an attempt to help her, I convinced her to simply bundle her mail and send it to me so I could go through her bills. I got her username and password so I could use the Bank of America website to access her checking account and pay bills for her electronically. But she had been unemployed for so, so long by that point and had already burned through all of her retirement funds, etc.

It didn’t help things that she seemed to have completely forgotten how to use a computer. She would call me exasperated that she couldn’t access her email or find things on the Internet. It was driving me crazy, because she had worked for years and years using her computer every day and then suddenly started acting like anything even remotely technological — email, a remote control, the telephone — was impossibly complicated for her.

Here is an email I sent her and my little sister at the beginning of March: