I've had my brain thinking about this one for hours.

I can't think of a true failure related to my theme.

Plus, I guess I look at setbacks and what others might call failures, as opportunities to learn and grow.

Dang, that sounds pompous and arrogant, but I'm my mother there. She always saw the best of anyone and the best of any situation. Sometimes to her detriment.

I remember a call one day from one of her neighbors, who owned a small store at the end of the road. She called me to tell me that Mom had come in, looked like she had been crying and was almost shaking she was so upset.

The neighbor asked her what was wrong. Mother did not want to share, but the loving neighbor pushed her a bit to tell her.

Mom told her she was home, and the doorbell rang. A young woman, really still a girl, was there and told Mother than she needed money, this time to go visit her sick mother in Tennessee, several states away from the Texas home where I was raised.

The girl asked Mom to write her a check. Mom didn't have a good concept of money; she relied on Daddy to give her money when she needed it, but by this time, he had been gone for at least 20 years. It turned out it wasn't the first time the girl had conned her into giving her money.

The rest of the story I have pieced together through the bank, through the neighbor and through Mom, when she could remember details, which wasn't often.

The "girl" was actually 21, had four children, a husband with a good job, but she was addicted to drugs of some variety, so she preyed on old ladies to have sympathy for her.

I took over Mom's checking account, and soon learned that she had paid several hundred dollars in checks to this woman, but the girl always asked Mom to make it out to someone else other than her.

The girl must have had some sort of control over those that the checks were made out to. Some turned out to be trusting neighbors of hers and were sucked into the girl's stories and got into trouble for it.

The bank gave Mom all her money back, because even though Mom had early dementia by then, she had signed the checks to this girl differently from her normal signature. She knew something was wrong, but not what. The bank apologized for not recognizing the difference.

Through her bank statements, we also discovered that a "handyman" was way overcharging her for little jobs that he did for her. He had recently moved into a "new" house. Mom probably paid for a good part of it.

Was that my failure? Yes, it was.

Our doctor daughter had warned us probably a year or so before this happened that her grandmother should be convinced to go into assisted living. Mom could pay bills, get groceries, go to the post office and church, but our daughter recognized the problems before I did.

I had found a well-respected woman in town who was willing to stay with Mom mornings, do light cleaning and make lunch for Mom. She had children, so she always wanted to be at home when the kids came home from school.

Afternoons after the woman left were when the "girl" would show up.

We lived about 16 hours away, so it was not easy to go visit her. I had been visiting here every two or three months, flying down to see her. She was always on her best behavior when I was there. Her mind was honed and sharp. She still could drive safely. I didn't see the signs that our daughter did. But Mom was pulling the wool over my eyes.

That is probably the failure I most regret. But it also had unintended consequences to the community. Mom taught Sunday School; she played the piano at church; and she was program chairman (always creative my mother) for a long-time study club and a more than 80-year-old music club.

After I moved Mom to be closer to us, the church she had supported for more than 60 years sold to another group and both clubs closed down because she was the glue that held them together.

I was a failure as a daughter, but taking everything that she thrived on away from her, I believe, also killed her just over a year later. Granted, she was 94, and had lived a long happy life, but she didn't have anything to do here. She didn't know anyone and most disturbingly to me, she would just sit in her room and do nothing. She had lost her reason for living.

Mea culpa, Mom.