(Originally posted Thursday, February 05, 2009) Fort Wayne, Ind. (API) Ninety-three-year-old Fort Wayne resident Marion Loudermilk told her five children and eight grandchildren on Wednesday that she refuses to tell any of her brood where she has squirreled away her savings unless for some reason they bring TV star Andy Griffith to her beside at County Hospital.
"I love you all very much," she said. "But I lived through the Depression and two great wars, and I know never to tell anybody where your money is. The only person you can trust is Matlock."
The Loudermilk children have been asking their family matriarch for weeks how much she has in savings so that they can make important decisions about her well-being, particularly now that she needs 24-hour home care to feed and bathe herself.
"We found mom crawling around in a pool of sick and corn flakes," said Loudermilk's daughter June Tyburn. "I've asked mom several times if she won't change her mind. We need to get her a home care nurse technician, and Medicaid said they won't help unless they know how much money she has. So when I told mom that it was for her own good, she said, 'Don't worry, I'll write you a five-dollar check for your birthday.'"
Griffith, star of such TV classics as "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock," shows in which he played, respectively, a small-town sheriff and an irascible but unflappably scrupulous defense attorney, was not available for comment, though his publicist did send Loudermilk a signed autograph that she kept near her hospital bed.
Loudermilk's son Brian Stephens, from her first marriage, said that his mother was slowly losing her memory and that soon she might not even be able to remember where she was keeping her largesse, which they hoped they could use to care for her in a prudent way with irrevocable power of attorney or perhaps guardianship.
"We don't even know much she has or in what form," Stephens said. "It could be in an annuity. It could be in a CD. It could be in a suitcase full of cash buried in the friggin' back yard. We don't even know if we can pay for her to go into a nursing home or assisted living because every time we ask her where her money is, she reminds me to make sure Cox hasn't turned off her cable. How are we supposed to keep her from living at home in her own crap?"
"I love Brian," said Loudermilk. "He'll never touch my money ever."
Jeremiah Reese, an elder care attorney from Indianapolis who has been asked to represent the Loudermilk children, says it is common for older people to want to hold on to money. They often want to leave some behind to their children as their legacy on Earth, he says. Past economic cataclysms have also made it more likely that they will put their money in unorthodox places where it will not appreciate, but rather lose value.
However, Loudermilk's insistence that Andy Griffith would be a suitable intermediary was a new wrinkle.
"I've got to say, if Andy Griffith did decide to come to our town and intercede on the Loudermilk children's behalf, I'd be willing to cut a deal with him. Marion's almost completely demented at this point."
"Sheriff Andy always seemed like a reasonable guy," said Loudermilk's granddaughter Laura Loudermilk. "Hey, I'm open to anything at this point. It's almost like God was speaking to grandma through the television whenever Matlock comes on. I don't know how else we're going to pull the money out of her decrepit, clenched fist, frankly."