SUPPORT THIS INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
The article you’re about to read is from our reporters doing their important work — investigating, researching, and writing their stories. We want to provide informative and inspirational stories that connect you to the people, issues and opportunities within our community. Journalism requires lots of resources. Today, our business model has been interrupted by the pandemic; the vast majority of our advertisers’ businesses have been impacted. That’s why the SC Times is now turning to you for financial support. Learn more about our new Insider’s program here. Thank you.
By Herman Sillas
In July 2016, I became unconscious and remained that way for two weeks in the hospital. At that time, I was the legal conservator for a client who was being cared for at a senior facility. She had a room and received her meals, medicine and adequate care. My duty was to assure payment for her service with my client’s funds that I maintained. Because of my inability to function, I was replaced as legal conservator for my client.
Cora became my appointed conservator by the court. She read all the instructions pertaining to serving in that capacity. In the meantime, I had recovered and was trying to recollect all the things that I had experienced.
Day by day, I became stronger, in spite of the fact that I didn’t know what happened. I still have no memory of the lost time.
I was then transferred to a facility. There, I began to relearn how to walk, take exercises on machines, to use my arms and legs. Finally, I was released to our home with the understanding that I must comply with instructions. I exercised every day. Cora accompanied me daily or had one of our kids accompany me. Eventually, my condition improved and I could walk by myself. As a matter of fact, in early December, I offered to cook breakfast. But unfortunately, that was the day that I broke my right leg, again. I was ambulanced to the hospital. Cora was still my legal guardian. She had to take me on again. This was hard for an old Mexican like me. I was 82 years old.
I didn’t want to practice law anymore, and so I advised my remaining clients of this decision. A date had been set by the court for a hearing to determine if I would be allowed to be in charge of my own life or if it would remain in Cora’s control. To compound the situation, I fell on the floor in our house in December and cracked my hip. I was unable to walk and started all over the process of being able to walk again. I have specialists who visit my home to instruct me how to walk again.
My return to court was scheduled for Feb. 28, 2017. I know Cora hated to be burdened with what she had to do as my conservator. On the other hand, she was able to speak with a certain amount of authority, because I was her responsibility, in the eyes of a court. Cora advised me that she was willing to give me back my life.
I prepared myself for court. I felt like I needed to be prepared to give the court all the reasons why it should dismiss the case. I would have to go in a wheelchair. I’d wear a tie and coat and be prepared to address the court if I had to. My wife was entitled to be relieved.
The judge called our case. We stepped forward to face our fate. Our attorneys said that we were prepared to end the custodian, and there would be no accounting required. The court thanked us. We exited the court room and thanked our attorneys.
When we were outside the court, I turned to Cora and said, “Now, I’m free!”
“You were always free,” she said.
“No, I wasn’t. You were the boss. I was at your mercy.”
Cora smiled, “If you say so. Just make sure you do your exercises.”
I smiled. She knew how to make me do what she wanted. That’s the view from the Pier.
Herman Sillas is an author and resident of San Clemente and a former U.S. District attorney. He may be reached at email@example.com.