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Blind Date

Marnie aka: Stool PigeonDear Diary,

My grandma Marnie is a woman of many talents. A legend really. Known far and wide from the halls of KillJoy Retirement Home to the dementia floor of Happy Daze Assisted Living (where my MIL Ruth lives). Marnie has a reputation of being a bridge player extraordinaire with nary a loss under her faux croc belt and a workout fanatic with a physique of near perfection (measurements 52-46-52). What they don’t know is she’s also an “undercover” secret operative for everything hook-up and romance..matchmaker for the young at heart.

Today I woke up feeling all inspired, perky and strong enough.. self-esteem wise to give Granny Marnie a jingle and check to see if she wanted to join the boys and I for some pancakes at our fav restaurant Jam Um and Cram Um. Marnie loves this place. It’s fast, easy and fun and if someone doesn’t TRIP over you in your wheelchair in their haste to get to the free apple cinnamon pancake sample.. also a very safe place to eat. It was no surprise that my invitation was met with an enthusiastic “YES” and accompanied by audible jumping up and down (or the electric scooter equivalent) for joy.. at the offer.

I pull up to KillJoy to pick up Marnie in her ROOM as clearly specified. Wait just a minute. Would you looky here. I spot granny sitting down in the lobby gently rocking back and forth in her “out to lunch only” wheelchair about 1/8-1/16 of an inch away from the sliding glass doors. Precisely as I have instructed her NOT to do. Surprise. I’m watching this electronic door go back and forth with enough force to pancake my Marnie. “THERE you are honey. I’ve been waiting for you for twenty five minutes. What took you so long? What did you do to your HAIR?”

This is where the strong sense of self-esteem comes in. I know that I am a sitting duck at this point and it could go one of two ways.

A.    She loves my haircut. Tells me I look ten years younger and I should have done it years ago.
B.    Hates it. Tells me I look ten years older and why did I do this now?

Oh. Yeah. There’s a “C”. Get’s distracted thus FORGETTING the hair and focuses in on the..

“That’s an interesting shirt you’re wearing dear? It makes you look like you’re preg..”

I’m not THAT strong.

“The hair Marnie..What do you think of my new hair? Do you like it? (flipping it around for effect)”

Marnie has been having some vision problems as of late. So to get a proper angle for evaluation, I crouch down really low and stick my head a fraction from her face. I want to make sure she really sees it clearly before responding.

ME: Well?

MARNIE: Well what?

ME: The hair? Do you like it?

MARNIE: Yes, I very much think that it looks fan..good. Just really good. (She hates it. I knew it.) You look twenty years younger—

SCORE!

Wait. There’s. More.

MARNIE: and I think you look like a beautiful young pregnant mother.

Yes sir! That’s the answer I was definitely going for.

At the Jam and Cram, Marnie shares with us the big news of the week. As the story goes according to Marnie (Match-maker alias: Stool Pigeon) she had been playing cards with both Eunice (her bridge flunky friend) and Hal (token MAN Bridge player) a few months ago over at Happy Daze. The group had been talking about exercise and walking and how Marnie Stool Pigeon had such a sick bod and how they all wished they could look like her. SP unbeknownst to the rest of the group, had her eye on fixing up the unsuspecting Eunice and Hal for some time but had been secretly plotting how she would do it. This was the window she’d been waiting for.

“Eunice? You like to walk around the block after dinner don’t you dear? I think Hal told me he does also. I don’t think it’s safe for you to walk alone at night. Sooooo maybe Hal will go with you..you know, JUST in case. For protection.”

That’s my Marnie. Safety first. Because HEAVEN FORBID something should halt Eunice’s walk— big strong ninety-two year old HAL will save her.

Marnie say’s they’ve been going at it all hot and heavy and they’re totally “mad” for each other. I don’t know why I’m just hearing about this now. I’m over at Happy Daze every day with Ruth and I never caught wind of this one. I asked Marnie where she thinks this could lead. She told me that Hal has introduced his kids to Eunice and they love her. So, maybe they’ll move in together eventually because it’s “silly” to get married since they’re NOT HAVING children. Really? They’re not? Hmmmm. These liberal minded grannies of today. I guess “old fashioned” values are history. Score one for the Pigeon.
Marnie said she’s cooking up another love connection. Granny’s best friend Laura likes this guy Larry whom she met (again over Bridge) last week. They really hit it off.  As the pigeon tells it.. Larry ended up calling Marnie and asking her if she would convince Laura to “move into his place.” It’s interesting how fast these old dudes move when they meet the right gal at the senior stage of life. Bam. They meet. Take a walk. Move into the same “home”. Next thing you know it’s all friends with benefits. See life over at KillJoy isn’t half bad. I suppose a “couple” needs to move fast at that age. There’s no waiting by the phone. You have to throw out the four-date rule because you never know if you’ll make it that far. Man those seniors know how to live.

My Sandwich Generation love is always in the air. When it happens to your senior SINGLE parent it can be such a blessing and make your job a heck of a lot easier. Think quality of life. Suddenly mom has a flush in her cheeks that hasn’t been there in years and after you rule out any possible health issues that could be causing it..just rejoice. Just one last point. Remember now it will be up to YOU to have the ummm..you know..the t-a-l-k. Good luck with that.

Be safe.

A

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 11:25 pm.

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HUNG UP

MIL Ruth and her good adviceDear Diary,

My day started off in kind of a bizzaro way this morning. I had a feeling something was definitely up when I called granny Marnie (electric scooter bound girl) to do one of our multi-daily chats and she was acting really overly nice. I don’t know why I didn’t question it the moment it started. Nooooo. I just chalked it up to some natural ripening that can come with aging (overnight?) whereby the person in question becomes a bit more humbled by life and the heart becomes slightly enlarged. Though not TOO enlarged, as that would be cause to call 911 which we must avoid at all costs. There was just some nice softening in her tone and I was really enjoying it. So much so.. that I began to open up to Marnie about deep and meaningful events occurring in my own life. I DO know better than that..but her compassionate tone and grandmotherly demeanor brought out a feeling that I could tell her anything. OH. YES. I. DID. Yup..that too.

I have these same moments with my mother-in-law Ruth. Never mind that she has dementia..I can tell her anything and she really takes it all in and always has the perfect response for everything.

ME: I don’t know why Marnie always has to ask if I get paid for my blog?

RUTH: That’s how we just are when we get older.

ME: Hmmm.. But why would she expect that I would need to be paid for EVERYTHING I do?

RUTH: Well..you know..that’s how we get when we get older.

ME: Yeah. You could be right. Money becomes even more important when you age for “that” feeling of security.

RUTH: That’s right. See what happens when we get older?

I really feel deeply understood by my MIL. She can totally relate to what I’m saying.

ME: Are you hungry? Should we go get some lunch?

RUTH: That’s right. That’s just what happens when you get..

I call Marnie’s place at KillJoy Assisted Living every day before I go over. I don’t want to just barge in and risk walking in at some awkward moment. Who knows what could be going on between her and Papa George. I once came over in the middle of a heated argument about why Marnie must always turn down the volume on the television from “unbelievably eardrum shattering” to “hearing loss guaranteed or your money back”. I suddenly notice as I’m standing there— that I have begun to sweat perspire. It’s crazy hot in here! I’m thinking these two are suffering from heat prostation and not even know it.
“What temperature do you have the thermostat at anyway?” I blurt out.

It’s my diversionary tactic. While they focus on me and my mindless ramblings.. they will totally FORGET what they were arguing about in the first place. Works EVERY time. I have a little peek at the gauge on the wall and no surprise here..85 degrees. Nice. Balmy is good. It helps open the pores, thus releasing all those pent up..toxins. Not the best focal point.. I come to find out. Marnie I guess,  has a tendency to enjoy a more moderate climate of 70-75 degrees, while George likes the Sahara Desert feel.

I think this was one of the most connected conversations I’ve had with Marnie in a long time. For twenty or so minutes we went deeply into family; the joys of motherhood and importance of family—of being connected.

MARNIE: Dear— would you and the kids like to come for dinner tonight?

This was weird. Marnie had already asked me this same question yesterday and I had to decline because my kids elementary school was doing a Western Hoedown gig and I thought we should do something with people under the age of eighty for a change.

MARNIE: Well..we’ll do it another time. How’s Josie feeling?

UUUURRRRRKKKKKKK! SSSSSCCCRRREEEEECCCHHH! HUH?

ME: How’s J-O-S-I-E?

Let me just tell you for a split second here– who JOSIE is. Josie is my SISTERS child. That’s right. You heard me correctly. It stands to reason that if Marnie is asking ME how Josie is.. Marnie thinks she’s speaking to..

M-Y S-I-S-T-E-R

ME: Marnie. Do you know who this is?

There you have it. Poof! Illusion up in noxious gas. The minute Marnie found out it was me..the memories of my recent “refrigerator clean out” came flooding back; recognizable by the sudden change of tone in her voice.

MARNIE: Oh A-d-r-i-e-n-n-e (long sigh). How are you dear? Make any money on your blog yet? Too bad THEY don’t pay you for that.

THEY. Who’s they?

My Sandwich Generation bread stuffers..why do we do this? It’s most certainly NOT for the monetary compensation..Peh. We know from our own experience, that our payment is on the heart level and not the bootie level where the pocket book doth lie. But..that being said..if Marnie wants to start compensating me for my time, she may need to hit the pavement with a resume in hand because the price of eldercare givers like us is..priceless.

Charge!

A

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 10:30 pm.

4 comments

Self Service

Ruth being waited on hand and foot

Dear Diary,

I put my life in danger EVERY single day. You would think it would be an easy task— taking care of my mother-in-law Ruth (dementia) and my granny Marnie (electric scooter bound girl). But oh how wrong you are. I have now officially lost track of how many times I have been scolded for doing “too much” of the right thing.. the wrong way. How hard can this be? Marnie gives me a list of foodstuffs she needs for her apartment kitchen. Fine. I’m reviewing the list and I make a mental note (for what THAT’S worth these days) about the few inconsequential elements I find to be missing from her list. On the backside of a slightly used napkin I read scribbled in pen:

1-case Diet Pepsi
2 Bags Fresh Express premium Iceberg salads
2 dozen cherry filled Danish (marked down- day old)
1 plastic lemon filled with “juice”
3 Bags Oreo Cookies
Velveeta processed “cheese”
Prunes (duh)
Fiber One Cereal
Bag of Jolly Time popcorn
2 Red Wines
2 White Wine
(Marnie’s sleep aid of choice)

There were two more items— but I couldn’t quite make out what they said. Apparently they were ordered to assist the prunes and Fiber One in their strenuous job ahead. Off I trot to the store.. pathetic nutritionally unbalanced list in hand thinking to myself how I will spruce up the list a bit with perhaps a vegetable or two, maybe a fruit (no bananas because we get those for free) and some kind of protein..

As of today..I have been officially taken off any kind of grocery duty for the sin, which I committed. Actually sin-s-s-s. I bought a few little..ummm “extras”:

One rotisserie chicken, 3 lbs of lemons, a sour cream coffeecake, 3 bags of baby carrots, a tub of large curd cottage cheese, a smoked salmon (in case Marnie entertains) and a few more things that I would prefer to not mention for fear of looking foolish. I thought they might be enjoyed, that’s all. Feh.

Why do I even bother to try and make Marnies life easy? She doesn’t WANT it easy. If it’s easy what the heck is she going to talk about with the other old girls when they sit around the bridge table? I.. by my pathetic timing have all but destroyed her reputation of being “completely self-sufficient” and never needing to “bother” anyone to help. Cripes! I walk into KillJoy Assisted Living and run into Marnie and her posse playing bridge. They were in the middle of a discussion lead by who else— MARNIE. Topic? How difficult it is to be left all alone without anyone to help. TAAA DAAA! Here I show up with a truckload of groceries announcing to all— the four-course lunch menu of the day. BUZZZZZZZ. MY BAD. Because of my careless behavior and timing issues, my poor Marnie will be ostracized for being “different”. No one wants to be pegged as different. Marnie has informed me she has chosen to “suffer” rather then let me “help” with the shopping and a few other tasks..

Task1- Refrigerator Cleaner- Status: terminated
I THOUGHT I was being helpful when I offered to clean out the refrigerator. Did I know you hide hid your nicest expensive fake ring in the faux rusty Schlitz beer can? Hello? Lock Jaw? Plus.. You DON’T DRINK BEER!

Task2- Public Bathroom Door Holder-Status: terminated
I didn’t know you wanted to get OUT of the flipping bathroom stall Marnie. I thought you were trying to help me keep the door CLOSED so it wouldn’t swing open while you were in process..

Task3-Wheelchair Pusher-Status: pending upon further review
In my defense the slope of the hill did not look to be that big of a deal and you have great tires. Further more.. I see no reason why we can’t go over all types of terrain. One more thing Marnie.. It is so not my fault that I took you down those steps facing forward. I THOUGHT you wanted to admire the many varieties of flowers they planted. (I guess you did THAT:)

Good luck trying to get all that “junk” food in your scooter Marnie. It’s just a matter of time before you get really sick of VELVEETA. You had it so good. How could you FIRE me?

So herein lies the problem.

Knowing the inside scoop as we NOW do My Sandwich Generation peeps..we’re faced with the difficult decision. Should we do it for them or let them do it themselves? This is not an easy call. We WANT our senior family to have their independence as long as they can..believe me..I can’t say this enough. AS. LONG. AS. THEY. CAN. But, we want to make their life easier at the same time. I find the “wait until asked, but offer frequently” approach that I use with Ruth works super great.
I offer.
She agrees.
I do.
Repeat.

Always at your service-
A

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 11:21 pm.

7 comments

Sugar-Free

Marnie's BagDear Diary,

How does the saying go? The best things in life are free? Well THAT explains why Granny Marnie is over the top thrilled at the moment. I don’t remember the last time I saw this much exuberance emanating from her. Let me think.. Oh wait. Yes, I do remember the last time. She was at Whole Foods and they had inadvertently mismarked the canned tunafive for $1 instead of one for $5 which, duh.. obviously was an oversight. H-e-l-l-o? WHOLE FOODS? Phfeh. Marnie cruises up towards the checkout stand in her electric scooter filled with—maybe twenty-five, thirty cans full of organic premium un-mercurized goodness (and nothing else). THIRTYmph down the condiments aisle she zoomed inwardly chuckling all the way at her amazing good fortune. Wait. What’s THIS? SAMPLES! What’s a quick little side trip going to hurt? Marnie pulls a U turn practically knocking down a “real” elderly person.. whooping and hollering all the way at warp speed to the Guava Salsa with Tomato corn chips.

What exactly is the deal with samples? Marnie and I seem to disagree on the idea behind the bite size complimentary morsels that are handed out (on Fridays at WHOLE FOODS, Saturdays at COSTCO and M-F at Trader Joes). I feel that it’s not in the spirit of the concept to drive your scooter up to the table and while the girl is giving you all the 411 on those dainty Zesty Dill Spinach Souffle Pops (10 for$20)..you’re shoveling them into your mouth at lightening speed with not as much as a head nod that you’re pretending to listen to a word she’s saying.

As if that’s not bad enough (don’t think that I didn’t catch this) you say, “Now those cheese cubes over THERE (pointing across the store) would they be good to serve with these?” As she looks to where you’re pointing, you make a grab for like..ten more and shove them in the mouth before she turns back to you. I thought it was pretty funny when you had them all shoved in your bulging cheeks and she followed up innocently with (as if you were a REAL customer) “Will you be serving them as an appetizer or main course?” Had a little problem answering that one didn’t cha? We had to sit and watch you chew for about five minutes before you would dare to open your mouth and then there was all the evidence stuck nastily between your teeth.

Let’s see..we hit the brownie table (where you got caught shoving a handful into your purse), the Karmel Korn table where you asked to take a cup home for your “children” and the LUNA Bar samples. I thought it a tad presumptuous of you Marnie to ask for a sample of each (twenty-five flavors folks..2-5) so that you could see which one “grabbed you” because at “your age” one loses all ones appetite and becomes quite thin so it’s important to find one that really tastes good.

Tell one, tell all..KillJoy Assisted Living-motto: if it hasn’t been done-we’ll do it to you has just set up a.. drum roll please. Free cookies, fruit and tea station. OMG. Does facility living GET any better than that? Marnie is jumping up and down in her scooter seat and I’m getting a little concerned because this is more cardio than she’s had all year. “Well it’s about time. I happen to know that Ruth’s (my MIL) place (Happy Daze Assisted Living) has been doing free cookies and bananas forever. Why we haven’t had them over here really makes me wonder about the brains of the person running this “concern.”

Ruth loves her free cookies and bananas area downstairs at Happy Daze. We stop there everyday to fill up her pockets with bananas before returning to floor ROAM(dementia). It’s very interesting what long-term behaviors stay with us and which one’s vanish if we should have some “memory issues” like my MIL. Shoving free bananas (green foiled flat mint patties, toothpicks, Kleenex and tea bags) into a coat pocket is as automatic to Ruth as..as..um. Well— breathing.

Sometimes for fun I like to play a little game with Marnie called: Guess how much this costs? I start with a simple thing—a Venti size Chai Tea Latte. O.K Marnie. How much did this set me back?

MARNIE: I’d have to say..and this is taking into account inflation..about $1.

Good guess scooter girl! But no cigar. BZZZZZZZZZ! WRONGO. Would you believe $4!

MARNIE: Nooooooooo. That can’t be. I would never pay THAT for a cup of tea. Do YOU? In fact.. would you like a cup of tea dear? You know here—we get it for free. How about a cookie to go with it? Do you need any packs of Sweet ‘n Low? Sugar?

I love the fact, My Sandwich Generation darlings that Granny Marnie thinks her nibbles are on the house. If she knew how much those cookies and free tea really are costing her..c r i p e s.
I always encourage Marnie to enjoy as MUCH cookies as she wants. In fact– who needs cereal for breakfast? Nothing my friend(s) In life. Is free.

A

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 9:53 pm.

2 comments

HIGH BROW

Marnie with good browsDear Diary,

It never ceases to astound me what us girls do in the name of beauty. Even when we’re into our eighties like my MIL Ruth or nineties like my granny Marnie we still manage to cover all of our beauty bases just “in case”. Show of hands please from my  MSG girlfriends whose Mothers, Grandmothers, or other “senior” mother figures have issued clear warnings on the topic of present ability in the case of catastrophic circumstance. We have been told none too subtly that whatever our “emergency” it will assuredly take a turn for the worst if we are found to be lacking proper “foundation” pieces (Victoria’s Secret thongs. OUT.) and heaven forbid we’ve forgotten to wax and pluck.

I like to visit Granny Marnie in the earlier hours of the day over at KillJoy Assisted Living- “if it hasn’t been done we’ll do it to you.” A few knocks at her door and I realize that I’m just wasting arm power and turn to the uber bell to dong my arrival. I can hear Marnie in her electric scooter race down the entry. Not because I possess some “super hearing” but because she’s revving the scooter power and is heading full throttle towards the front door like the reckless driver that she is. Nothing like the feel of the wind blowing through your hairpiece to bring out the road warrior in a girl. Marnie throws open the door with a big smile on her lips and her eyes.. A look of wild shock and terror? Huh? As I lean in for the kiss and pat, I notice that the look of fright has not left her face. What is it? W H A T is it?

DING. DING. DING. Her e-y-e-b-r-o-w-s.

Her mouth is saying I’m delighted to see you and her eyebrows are screaming “Holy Mother Plucker! Take one step more and I’ll scream so loud you’ll lose all hearing (too).”

I’m scrutinizing her face assessing with wonder the shoddy workmanship of the dark brown eyebrow pencil heavy handedly applied to resemble a cross between Cruella De Vil and Joan Crawford. On her fair colored, almost non-existent brows, this isn’t the best look for her I can tell you. Of course now I’m completely ignoring Granny’s rundown on her constipation woes and can think of nothing but how I’m going to delicately weave this into our morning conversation and remedy the situation before she naively leaves the room and causes unnecessary terror in the halls of KillJoy.

ME: What’s the plan with that constipation Marnie?

MARNIE: Oh. I’m just going to stay around here for a while. Drink four cups of water and finish the rest of those prunes. (Pointing to COSTCO size Prune container on kitchen counter.) How are you? What cha looking at dear?

ME (Planning the time frame for my visit and Prune consumption): Just you Marnie. How beautiful you are. How you always look so well put together?

(Pause)

ME: Hmmm.. O M G! Who did THAT to you? I want names.

So— maybe not so subtle. But they were heinous. I swear. I could not help myself.

Marnie and I went back into the bathroom and I began to wipe dreaded “slasher brows” off with Lubriderm lotion. I love to play make-up artist. I’m pretty good. Just ask Ruth. She’ll tell you how good I am at plucking, drawing, shading and highlighting. Because Ruth has dementia you’ll have to ask the question like this to spark her memory:

YOU: “Wow. Adrienne does such a fab job on your make-up. It’s so natural and brings out your amazing beauty—that make-up that Adrienne does on you. Who does your make-up?”

I have Marnie sit really still while I make nice feathery strokes along the brow bone. The key here is light and eas.. OOPS.

“I’m not loving this Marnie. It looks like one brow is about two inches higher than the other. I need to try again.”

Marnie is the best model an artist could ask for. She lets me apply and remove brows for a good thirty minutes without moving a muscle. Then she needed to start working on the “other” issue so I had to pick up the pace. I finally hit one out of the park. They looked so amazing; perfectly symmetrical and very natural. When I stepped back to look at the final picture I thought she looked good. Maybe a tiny bit. Constipated. Ugh. What are you gonna do? Great lipstick.

Granny Marnie and Ruth wanted me to pass on to My Sandwich Generation girlfriends the importance of being well groomed at all times hence showing that “YOU” take care of yourselves. “Putting lipstick on should be as automatic as blinking.” Proclaims my MIL Ruth. “Then if you have dementia once in awhile like me, you’ll look presentable and attractive and won’t have to give it another thought.” Marnie concurs. “Put on your make-up after your hairpiece. Then it becomes your regular routine. You won’t ever want to miss a day and put it off. Because then..BAM! That will be the ONE-day that something happens. That’s how it works. You will have forgotten to put on your face and THEN who will want to rescue you?

What are you wearing under there?

A

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 10:22 pm.

4 comments

Cleaning Girl

Durga Girl

Dear Diary,

It’s that time of year again. The sun is out, the birds are singing and half of my Mother-in-laws belongings have disappeared into thin air thus signaling the need for the Spring Cleanse. We go through this little house cleaning ritual of Ruth’s room over at Happy Daze Assisted Living (floor ROAM) at the time when I notice a great deal of repetition in our attire from day to day. With dementia a girl may forget a lot of things, but she NEVER forgets what she wore the day before and will N E V E R do a repeat (i.e. “I really love my..” section in In Style Magazine). To be caught wearing the same exact pants and blouse two or three days in a ROW? Well, I can’t even go there. No. It has to be something a bit more sinister. Maybe..And it pains me to say this—Thievery. I’m not one to point fingers but I have noticed Marion eyeing with longing Ruth’s Purple Bomber Jacket. I could be wrong. Cripes. It could be Marion is just experiencing a random flare up of flatulence. Look at Lena. Sitting there all quiet and demure at age 91. Let me tell you about this fierce competitor Lena. If it’s cute and THIS season..no amount of Sharpie permanent Marker will stand in the way of illegal acquisition by her sneaky tactics. “Oh this isn’t mine? Why..I have one almost just like it. I think my MOTHER bought it for me.”

I decide the best way to proceed with the “cleaning” is to have Ruth chillax on the bed, out of my way. She can catch up on the May issue of Town and Country and I can search every nook and cranny of her 50 square foot boudoir without her well intentioned assistance.

“What are you doing in there anyway?” Ruth calls out.

She’s glanced up from her mag. long enough to observe me un-zipping her fabric “Never in a million years will I fit back into this” clothing storage bag and tossing size 6 Oscar D. sequined jackets and skirts on to the floor all hari kari. Smart woman Ruth. Didn’t say a W-O-R-D. Almost. “Do you think YOU could fit into any of THAT?”

ME (holding up a beige spandex lace tank): “Probably not. But, I’m thinking this would look nice when I go to a “strip club”. I’ll pair it with THESE (Waving around Gold lame leggings).

RUTH: You have plans?

As I dug down further and further I started to find all kinds of lost artifacts from days of yore. Truly I get chills , recounting the moment I found the stolen lost expensive Target gloves she got two years ago as a birthday gift. We could have cried for joy. One thing after another all smooshed in the bottom of the bag emerged. The missing pajama bottoms the staff had told ME she had flushed down the toilet. Ha! Here they were. Dozens of balled up socks, slips and sweaters (with the tissues and mints still in the pockets) hats, scarves and hand lotion. Oh happy day.

Next I moved into the bathroom. As sweet as the cleaning staff is at Happy Daze, their cleaning abilities are at best comparable to my boys swinging a wet rag around trying to get Club Penguin computer privileges in under ten minutes time. I start looking for something to clean off the counter tops and settled for the green box of Hygienic personal cleansing wipes to give me the high luster shine I was looking for. This brings me back to the time that I signed up for one of those test marketing groups and I was given boxes of personal wipes to test. Are you kidding? I used them for the kids sticky hands’ and faces’ and to wipe down my car interiors. Made fifty bucks doing it. They worked great. For the sink, too.

Ruth starts talking to me as I’m under the bed fishing out lost earrings. I hear her say:

“Oh, I see they’re showing pearls again with everything. What ever happened to all my nice strands of pearls I wonder?”

Ga. How I loathe these pop quizzes. I just mumbled something about looking next in the potpourri bowl.

It was a very successful cleanse. I recovered all previously mentioned “stolen” goods with just a few exceptions. I didn’t find the purple jacket so the plan is— I’m going in to Marion’s closet when she’s downstairs at sing-a-long time. Ruth will distract her long enough so I can do a thorough search and rescue. If for some weird reason, they get done early and come back up, Ruth and I have devised a secret code to warn me of imminent danger. She’s going to “accidentally” spill something on Marion and then ask Marion if she wants to pick something out of her closet to “borrow”. What woman in her right mind would turn down an opportunity of a lifetime like that? Then when Marion is in Ruth’s room changing, out into the hallway comes Ruth shouting “cheese dip”, “cheese dip” to alert me. Only one tiny, itsy bitsy problem. Ruth could possibly forget the whole “code red” protocol and I’ll get cornered in Marion’s room and pegged a thief.  I’ll take the risk. It was a very cute jacket.

My Sandwich Generation compatriots, I now how you L-O-V-E to clean. Pleeezee. The great feeling of accomplishment and recognition for doing such a deed is staggering. Still..Somebody has to do it. Think of it as being on an Archeological dig. You could find some very rare and priceless treasures to make it all worthwhile.

Have a smooth cleanse.

A

Above Photo by: Ruth

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago at 9:18 pm.

1 comment

Something up my..sleeve

SurpriseDear Diary,

Nothing like a good surprise now and again, to shake things up. Life can be so droll and predictable when you live at Happy Daze Assisted Living. I know Ruth’s routine on the Dementia floor (ROAM) by heart. Today she’ll get up. Get “thrown” in the shower (her words) and dress. Ruth getting dressing is really the most happenstance part of her day. If she awakens feeling her inner Madonna, I will bet you that I’m going to see her dressed in a green striped tank layered nicely over her cotton turtleneck sweater and a pair of Capri’s over her knit pajama pants “leggings”. I have no problem with Ruth expressing herself through fashion. She has always been on the cutting edge. An interesting observation on this subject..Most of the girls on the ROAM floor are very bold when it comes to taking chances with their wardrobes. I see a lot of different fabrications used in unusual ways. Have you ever thought that a terry cloth hand towel wrapped elegantly around ones neck could serve as a shawl? It can.

Ruth drinks her prune juice, demolishes a bowl of Raisin Bran, maybe an egg or two or three depending on the time lapse from the start of breakfast to egg service (anything over 15 min. and it’s as if it never happened). To complete the meal she has her daily banana from her secret stash (nothing wrong with clipping a few of those from the downstairs free fruit and cookies area) and begins her somewhat predictable day.  Until I show up.

Today Ruth asked me specifically to write a note to Happy Daze excusing her from exercise/Happy Hands class because she has a sore “bird finger” and there is no way she will be able to perform all necessary elements in “Happy Hands”. She is emphatic about the fact that when it comes to finger circles and thrusts she experiences huge “finger fatigue” and is quite unable to point her bird finger in the necessary direction. I’m totally fine with this because I have much better plans anyway that I’ve been keeping secret. Today Ruth is going downstairs to meet up with an old girlfriend that she hasn’t seen for a year..Which on Ruth time might as well be a millennium. Before we go, I’ll need to go through my prepping procedure. This is how it works:

1.    Take Ruth to her room and change her out of Madonna Hooch look into Martha Stewart Prudish Gardener chic.
2.    Repeat name of visitor.
3.    Repeat name of visitor
4.    Repeat name of visitor
5.    Re-apply Lipstick
6.    Repeat name of visitor
7.    Visit little girls room
8.    Repeat name of visitor

Ruth at this point is so surprised that she has company downstairs and beside herself with excitement. Before we even GET in the elevator to go down to meet, “what’s her name again?” Ruth is ready for a nap. This is why I don’t tell her anything before hand. Ugh. I have had to learn the hard way so I’m going to spare YOU My Sandwich Generation sister’s. Never tell your seniors (Alzheimer’s or no Alzheimer’s) about any upcoming event. They will obsess about it for days. They will ask you e-v-e-r-y single hour for the twenty-four leading up to the big DAY, “Is it time to go yet? What will I wear? What will I say? How will I walk to her home in my UGGS?”

RUTH: How will I walk to her home in my UGGS?

ME: We’re NOT going to walk to her home. Dee Dee is coming HERE. We’re going to meet her in the “free bananas and cookies” room.

RUTH: OHHHHHH. Is Dee Dee’s husband coming too? Let’s see..his name was Joey.

ME (all excited and giddy that spouses name was remembered): No. I don’t think he’s coming. Dee didn’t mention he was. Maybe you’d better not say anything about him..we don’t know. Things HAAAAPPEN. Ya know..THINGS.

RUTH: Do you think he’s dead?

ME: Who knows. I didn’t ASK. Don’t YOU ask.

RUTH: Oh no. I would never ask such a thing. What did you say her name is?

Down we go and it’s SHOWTIME

RUTH (giving hugs and big kisses): “Hi—? (looks at me for hint)

ME (singing softly): A, B, C..

RUTH: Dee! DEE..How’s your husband? Where is he? (Looking around wildly)

Blech! Feh! GA!

She had a great time with her gal pal. Forty minutes in and I decided to call the game because Ruth was showing signs of wear and tear.

“I’m ninety-two years old NOT eighty-two. I know it because Selma and I were talking about it and she said SHE was ninety-two and I said I am too and she agreed. So I’M. NINETY. TWO.”

O.K. be ninety-two Ruth. In fact be one hundred and two. We’re out of here PRONTO.

The elevator ride is a great time for the “wrap up” I find. Ruth says she had a great time with Dee Dee and Joey. What a great surprise. Good. That’s all that matters. That and getting Ruth into her room before the melt down begins.

Good thing I entered her room first. Surprise! An industrial strength fifty pound, 30×30 FAN is sitting right in the middle of her floor. Nice going, facility maintenance, dudes. Because you wouldn’t want Ruth to slip on the wet carpet, thus splitting her head open. Better to leave the fan in her room knowing she has ZERO vision so she could TRIP over it. Yup! Never a dull nano second over at the “happiest place on earth.” Oh Happy Daze are here again.

Unpredictably yours,

A

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago at 10:28 pm.

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Out of SIGHT..Out of MIND

Mothers DayDear Diary,

If something happens in your day to day (or night to night) goings on and you don’t REMEMBER it..Does it then cease to have ever happened? Let’s say hypothetically, that I ate two doughnuts from Krispy Kreme. If I don’t remember that I ate those Krispy Kreme doughnuts thus forgetting to add their consumption to my daily caloric intake sheet it’s really like it never happened. Right? Some of you will argue the point that when I get on the scale and I’m up two pounds then I’ll remember PLENTY. I don’t think so. When I was eating the doughnut— I was in the moment. Enjoying all the sweet, gooey, delightful qualities of said doughnut. When the doughnut was done I was in a new moment and I couldn’t remember that I ate the doughnut but I was full and happy because of it. Do you see where I’m going with this?

My mother-in-law Ruth operates with very similar mechanics. Believe it or not, there are times when I find it to work to her advantage. When you have Alzheimer’s you lose all sense of time and place, thus enjoying the very point in time that YOU are in. It’s no secret that you and I have purchased..I don’t know? What? A MILLION books on How to be in the Here and Now: A step-by-step guide for blowing off everything in your already cluttered chaotic mind and being fully focused on the dilemmas before YOU. Best Seller. Plus, the Doc who wrote it? He’s looking forward to his big fat retirement in Florida because none of us can figure it out.

H-E-L-L-O Ruth. Absolutely NO freakin’ idea what happened yesterday or an hour ago or five minutes ago for that matter. She seldom worries about this little “problem” and there’s a very good reason why that is. She has ME to playback every second of her previous day with great zip and zeal. What she did. What she said. What everyone said ABOUT her. All that..With a little somthin’ somthin thrown in for good measure. Bwahahaha.. Joy Happens.

The day after Mothers Day I get a call.

“Excuzze me, Adrienne” comes the sweet voice of one of the dearest aides on the ROAM floor. “Could ew please talk to Rut? She thinks she was rude to you yesterday and said something. What eeze dat? She said she was.. Snarky. ”

I can hear Ruth in the background giving directions in her “worried and I’m sooo BUSTED voice.” Kind of like the time she and Blanche got caught downstairs trying to escape.. Never mind. I’ll save THAT one for later.

“Honey?” this is Grandma. “Was I rude to you yesterday? Because if I saw you..I think I must have been rude to you. I don’t think I even had a good time because I didn’t get to spend much time with the children..if they were here.

O.K. Now comes the fun part. Watch closely how I do this and feel free to take notes. Always keep your eye on the BALL.

ME (sounding like I smoked some kind of illegal plant life..which I would NEVER do but I’ve seen people): G-R-A-N-N-Y! We had the BEST day with you yesterday! I brought the boys to your place and we all had lunch together. Then the boys went to play pool downstairs and the male strippers came. You can’t remember how good-looking they were? You had a blast. They got up on the table and everyone was dancing..and you had the time of your life. The end. (pause for effect)

(cont.) “I have never seen you have such a good time. Do you feel better now?”

RUTH: Wow. Do I. Who wouldn’t? It’s too bad I can’t remember that though. But OH well. It sounds like it was some party. I’m going to go to my room “A” and take a nap because I’m exhausted from all that hoopla. Bye. Thank you soooo much:)

Cha-Ching!

What actually happened:

Every year on Mothers Day, the kids (Alien Dude28 and Smart Alec2) and I assemble roughly twenty-eight little bouquets of flowers and bring them up to the girls on the ROAM floor at Happy Daze Assisted Living. One tenth of a second after we pushed ourselves through the “faux bookcase” door— I see Ruth flying shuffling(it’s the UGGS) towards me wearing a look of “I’m on stimulation overload” or “I’ve done a few to many prune juice shots”. She looked kind of dizzy and out of sorts but after an hour of circumambulating before the magic keypad door I can’t say I’d look any better.

RUTH: OMG! Look who’s here? Would you? Well. I’ll. Be. I was going to come down and walk over to your place.

Sure you were granny. Because I live soooo close. I have no doubt you could walk it in..two, three maybe four..D-A-Y-S. That is IF you could figure out how to WORK the elevators once they actually arrived on the floor (which on a good day could take upwards of an hour).

RUTH: I can’t remember the code to this bookcase. I feel like I should know how to do this by now. I’ve been standing here for DAYS.

Ruth and I share the trait of embellishment. I seriously doubt Ruth that you had been standing here for days. Hours? Maybe. Days? Naaaaah. I saw you yesterday.

After I walked Ruth through the art of the “deep cleansing breaths”, we made it into the dining room so that Grandma could receive her accolades. Ruth just glows from this “flower delivery” because let’s face it..HER grandkids otherwise known as her “SONS” children have taken it upon their extremely academically gifted and talented selves to give back to society and make such a profound difference by their selfless act of throwing mini-carnation’s at her BFF’s around the lunch table before helping themselves to the cookie platter with sheer abandon.

Ruth had a fab Mothers Day.

My Sandwich Generation mother’s, it’s time for us, as of TODAY to experiment with the concept of living in the moment. Let’s leave the watches and the cell phones (no U may not txt:() at home or locked in the car (in purse on vibrate) and try it. What is reality anyway? Normal functioning can be SO overrated. Be and find some joy right where you are in this space and time. Suck up every second. Find a way to imprint it on your heart and draw fullness from the time you have with that dear parent or grandparent that you are in the presence of. When you leave them, what do you have left? The sweet swelling of your heart and a deeper inner contentment of the soul. The actual time together may have passed..but the inner contentment lives on forever.

Now you see me.

Now you don’t.

A

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago at 10:01 pm.

2 comments

Meal Pass

Waiting for Lunch GuestsDear Diary,

Lunchtime over at Happy Daze Assisted Living (floor ROAM) is a real treat for the guest LUCKY enough to score an invitation. Even Granny Marnie (electric scooter bound and reckless)..who herself already lives in the much ado-ed and incredibly pretentious Killjoy Assisted Living (motto: If old age doesn’t do it..we will.) will “stoop” to great lengths to gate crash (or just crash) into this must be seen exclusive lunching haunt. I think I overheard Shirley say the much coveted meal pass is going for about $15 on the “open” market these days. That’s like…ten strands of green tin beads in ROAM floor currency. Doesn’t really matter how you get in to the dementia dining hall, it’s really all about how you survive once you’re there. Don’t let me scare you. Sure, it can be a bit intimidating at first. Everybody is staring at you all “What is SHE doing here? ” and “Who does she think she is?” Remember, it’s not being mean spirited, they’re only saying that because they don’t have a clue themselves who THEY are and WHAT they’re doing there. But, if you end up at the “choice” table you’ll already be looked upon by the rest of the group as highly special and one of the elite so you can relax just a spot and enjoy the meal.

Every time, before I sit down, it is paramount that I make “the rounds” if I wish to enjoy my meal (avoid acid reflux). This is the first piece of dementia floor etiquette to note. Always introduce yourself. No. Not just to YOUR table. Get up and go to each and every lady and the gentleman and tell them who you are and state your title and business. Example:

“Well hello______(fill in the blank with residents name for higher marks.) I’m Adrienne and I belong to Ruth. Ruth is my MOTHER-IN-LAW.”

You must state your title clearly and hope that your senior has high social ranking in the group. If not.. You’re screwed. The minute you turn your back to walk away they are SO going to talk about you and it won’t be pretty. Because my Ruth has very high standing, I can turn my back with confidence and know that Selma will not be talking trash to Blanche when I’m out of ear shot. Ha.

“I’m here because..”

Make this good. Don’t just say, “I’m here because I’m hungry and I heard you have good fries.” Use your creativity.

Say THIS: “I have missed you all so much. You can’t imagine how droll my friends are compared to you. There is always so much knowledge that I gain by spending time here in your company. Thank you for having me. Is that a new blouse?”

Bravo!

Now, just don’t say another word. Zzzzzippppp. Shhhhhhush. The key to your success or failure at lunch, is knowing when to just say enough. Too much and your going to illicit serious eye rolling.  Maybe even a little shouting if you’ve hit a bad “Faye” day. “Ahhh sit DOWN and be QUIET already. Don’t you know when to shut-up? Bring us our dessert if you want to be helpful.”

On the flip side— is not ENOUGH gab. Too little talk and someone will inevitably shout “What’s a matter with her? Doesn’t she understand English?” Just sit there and take in the flow of the conversation before you step in the river.

RUTH: We were supposed to have a bus ride today. I guess the bus must have broken down again.

SHIRLEY: What do you mean? We had a bus ride. We went to..Where did we go?

GRETA: We went to exercise class with Teddy upstairs.

RUTH: Oh. Is that where we went on the bus ride? To exercise class. Yeah. I remember. What did we do there?

BERTHA: What did we do where dear?

RUTH: At exercise class?

BERTHA: We didn’t HAVE exercise class..b-e-c-a-u-s-e we had a bus ride.

All I can say is thank the higher powers that be for TUMS, my bottle of MOTRIN and my cell phone. Who’s going to notice me texting my husband Steve who unfortunately could not join us this afternoon but begged me to relay every single detail of my conversation so he didn’t feel excluded in any way!

“What’s she doing there?” shouts Faye. Rats! Ruth being the tech-savvy chick that she is blurts back, “What does it look like she’s doing? She’s texting.” Way to go Ruthie. You tell her. “Are you doing that twitter? Here let me get on.” OOPS:( How does Ruth KNOW about twitter? Gulp. Probably because she’s DOING IT..Meet “dementiachick“. Cripes! SHE has more followers then ME. Yeah. I know—pathetic. Have to admit her tweets are slightly amusing.

Now Ruth will launch into her explanation of social networking. This is the fun part. I get to see Ruth in the educator role and she is always so clear and concise in her teaching methods. She explains (very well I may add) how I type on the little typewriter all sorts of very important “codes” so that everyone who follows me will know what I’m doing because (these are my words now) “I’m a very important person and people like to know how I spend my time.” Hey. Why fight it.

My Sandwich Generation ladies, (who may or may not lunch)..Having your meal with family is such a great time as long as you remember the basic and old fashioned rules we learned as children: A. Only speak when spoken to. B. Out of site out of mind..out of hitting range. C. Don’t talk with your mouth full..keep your mouth always full. D. You can only be excused when everybody’s done..So bring your phone and text discreetly. Lunch goes on right through till dinner.

Plop Plop Fizz Fizz,

A

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago at 10:54 pm.

2 comments

Minding P’s and Q’s

Getting ready to put out

Dear Diary,

One would think that my mother-in-law (Ruth) lives a very simple life over at Happy Daze Assisted Living-ROAM (dementia care). Really. What could POSSIBLY be so tough about getting up, eating breakfast, forgetting that you’ve eaten breakfast.. eating breakfast AGAIN, getting dressed and having your daughter-in-law show up to take you out for fun and excitement beyond your wildest musings. But alas..life does become challenging when your “secretary” has very little or NO talent in the “social booking” arena as Ruth’s does.

Today first thing, Ruth and I sit down on the bed and pull out the calendar for this week. Well, there was one little thing that we did before we sat down on the bed.

ME: Ruth I need a sample.

RUTH: What kind of sample.

ME (throwing my eyes towards the bathroom): You know. A S-A-M-P-L-E.

RUTH (light going on in head): Ohhhh. A SAMPLE. I’ll be right back.

This should be interesting.

Why lookie here? Ruth is proudly handing me a mini-size Estee Lauder face cream from (looking at container) if I had to guess I’d say 2006. Maybe 2005. I know this was a gift with purchase because I gave her that for..I think it was her BIRTHDAY three years ago. Came with a Cherry Pink lipstick and matching Blush in a sweet little blue plastic bag.

Close. But not quite what I was looking for. I go over my definition of “sample” with Ruth using medical terms that might spark her memory of my task at hand.

“Pee”
“Doctor”
“hat”
“gloves”
“aim”
“can”

Ruth the RULES of the game are this: you start only on my “go” and not a moment before. If you DO go early, you’re gonna miss the target and you’ll be penalized and brought back to Starbucks to drink yet another Venti Mocha. Do you understand the rules? (Ruth nods her head) Good. I don’t want any mistakes THIS time.

On go the gloves and the little plastic hat (pee collector). Please have a seat Madame.. We’re off and running. SCORE! Caught it on the first try. Ruth is a little irked that I made her “put-out” without telling her before hand. You really can’t blame her. How would I like it if my DIL showed up and said “I need three ounces and I need it now?” I just don’t like to mention these things prior to delivery for fear of performance anxiety. Then it’s all DRIP.  DRIP.  DRIP.  and what am I going to do with that?

Back to the business of the day; the illustrious social calendar. Ruth wants to see what I’ve got booked for her so far.

I clear my throat and begin my decidedly amateurish presentation..

“As you see on graph A. Ruth, I have scheduled you cousin Jan from 11:00-11:45 on Monday, thus giving you time to have lunch and be ready for your 1:15 nails with Xuck.” Then I put Debbie..You remember little Debbie? I placed her in the 2:00-3:00 time slot, for maybe a nice walk– a cup of free tea and cookies downstairs, whatever. Then you’ll come back and lay down. From 5:00-6:00 your old neighbor Djimon Hounsou and his friend Kimmora will stop by and bring you down for dinner. At 7:00-8:00 some of the gals from your old Bridge game thought they might have a prune-tini or two with you and then..bed no later the 8:30.

I glance up at Ruth so proud of the orderly and skilled way I have organized her day. What a fab girl I am. Well rounded. Together. Medically trained.

Ruth has a completely befuddled look upon her face.

RUTH: I can’t do Monday.

ME: What do you mean “you can’t do Monday”? Of course you can do Monday.

RUTH: You’ll have to call..what did you say her name is?

ME: Jan.

RUTH: Who is Jan? I don’t know a Jan? Do I know a Jan?

ME: She’s your cousin.

RUTH: I don’t have a cousin named Jan? Are you sure it’s Jan and not JOAN?

ME: Ummm. Well, it could have been Joan..

RUTH: Well, I can’t do Monday with…

ME: JOAN.

RUTH: I thought you said her name is JAN. WHICH is it? I have a bus ride that I’m not giving up on Monday. Don’t you remember that we go EVERY Monday? Honestly. (Quick internal pause) And dinner’s out. It’s “happy hands and a movie” night. You’ll just need to switch it around.

FEHHHHHH! Look what I’ve become? Maybe Ruth should just text Djimon herself.

My Sandwich Generation Mama’s..you won’t even KNOW how to answer your own CELL phone, when your own yummy eldercare mouthful arrives on it’s plate. This is what I’ve settled on:

“Thank you for calling Ruth’s social secretary’s office. This is Adrienne. I’m away from the phone right now— probably driving Ruth to some appointment or function. Please leave your name—spelled out s-l-o-w-l-y, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name and phone number and how you know Ruth and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can remember what I did with your number. Thanks for calling. Have a nice day. Don’t be a stranger.

B-E-E-P!

A

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago at 11:21 pm.

4 comments