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VAGUE- may

Posted 13 years, 6 months ago at 11:03 pm.


Spring Fling

Ruth and her new NEW clothesDear Diary,

For the fashion forward, spring is a time to come out of the closet so to speak. No more heavy Camel Hair coats and Alpaca zip up’s. All the UBER chic on the ROAM (dementia) floor of Happy Daze Assisted Living, resign themselves to the fact— that the time has come to reveal their more shapely silhouettes in something a bit more, well.. body conscious. In goes Ruth’s personal wardrobe consultant/ daughter-in-law. Out goes, via hefty bag force flex: Two pairs nasty breast fed baby number two yellow colored polyester pants (compliments of an acid rinse by weekend staff). A similarly dyed to match vest (originally olive green), a (at one time) adorable Liz and Company jacket, two shirts (one was a Ralph) and one nightie (Target..My bad). I methodically pack up all the puffy peplum and everything shirring or ruching and begin to unfold all the “new” old spring collection from the years of yore. Don’t get me wrong. Anything that I saved from last year will not automatically be placed on a hanger and resume it’s position back on the bar. There is a lot of thought that goes into deciding which pieces will make the “cut” and which pieces will be marked CNR (Can Not Resurrect). Always in the back of our minds (wayyy back in Ruth’s case) is the question: What will bring the largest amount of accolades and envy from the other “girls” towards Ruth.. out on the catwalk hallway?

“What about these leggings?

Are the girls wearing leggings? Or do those go in the box, too?” inquirers my forgetful fashionista, Ruth.

No the “leggings” otherwise known as COMPRESSION HOSE have to stay. This won’t be easy convincing Ruth that the leggings work well with Capri’s and cropped pants. I have this problem every, single spring and summer.  Why can’t these ugly beige knee socks come in.. maybe a fishnet? Yes! I’ve GOT it! Maybe a black fishnet or a cute little “sheer” with a seam up the back. There could be pastels. Prints. Paisleys. The possibilities are endless.

ME: Look. Just add a ballet flat and it really completes the look..I’m telling you! I even think I remember that Calvin showed them in his cruise wear 09 collection and they FLEW off the rack.

RUTH: Hmmm..(Looking down) I don’t know. Really? This is how they’re wearing them.

ME (cheery BS voiced): OMG that is SO the look. Here. See this?

I’m pulling out an old copy of W Magazine and pointing to Vivienne Westwood’s fall 1989 “Voyage to Cythera” collection. One would probably describe the model’s look as she posed on the runway in periwinkle colored, argyle “leggings”(compression hose..wink. wink), matching top and a red and white hounds tooth bomber jacket to finish the look, as a cross between Jackie Kennedy and Bozo the clown.

ME (stabbing the page with finger for emphasis): Can you see this? It’s shown in all the magazines. Do you know who this is?

RUTH (bringing her nose to the page to examine): No. Who is it?

Predictable answer. Yet— One NEVER knows whom Ruth will recognize. I once tried this same trickery to get Ruth to wear a hat and dark sunglasses (Macular Degeneration = light sensitivity) 24 hours a day by showing her a picture of Madonna avoiding Paparazzi in roughly eleven O.K. and US magazine’s. “Do you know who this is?” I say. “Sure.” Ruth says back. “Everyone knows that’s Madonna. What’s the matter with you?”

RUTH: It’s a little bit loud with all that color and craziness. Don’t you think?

Come on. Sell it baby.

ME: Not at all. In fact— That’s how it’s supposed to be. Everyone is wearing them that way. Plus..What are you worried about? Your hose are beige. I know Greta’s wearing her’s. Joan will be wearing her’s for sure. Do you want to be the ONLY one who doesn’t wear them?

Good. Peer pressure. Works E-V-E-R-Y TIME.

Once we agree that support socks will remain a daily MUST.. We move on to bringing out the NEW New things. Not to be confused with the NEW, old things. I had just finished a shopping trip to JC Penny’s to fill in the “holes” of our warm weather attire and began to dump the contents out on the bed for closer inspection.
You should have seen granny OOHHH-ing and AHHH-ing over each Navy. Beige. Tan. Item tumbling out of the white plastic jumbo bag. It’s always such a thrill. Then Ruth wants to run (shuffle) down the hall to show off her new look to the girls (and guy) hanging out in the dining room watching some hot Doris Day flick and chomping? on popcorn.

I watch her flit and float away and resume my black perma-marker hack job on the tags inside all her new ready to wear. Sure wouldn’t want to see Greta end up in this. Ruth would hurl.

My dear Sandwich Generation pretties. When you do your seniors clothing cleanse thrice yearly; you may need to learn the art of compromise. Don’t feel it necessary to win every battle with your parent. If they want to wear THAT pink floral cotton nightgown under their orange j. Crew polo and have the bottom skirt part hanging out over her pants..well then you might have to let THAT one go. Where you WILL have to draw the line is the other Madonna look. The BRA worn over the shirt— is no longer in VOGUE.

Strike a POSE,


Posted 13 years, 6 months ago at 9:28 pm.



Wooden Pineapple'sDear Diary,

Let me ask you.. What do you give the girls that have everything— for Mothers Day? While you’re chewing THAT one over, here’s the more important question—“What will the girls that have EVERYTHING give me?” Yes me! The always Depends-able, incredibly diligent, always discreet, Daughter-in-law to Ruth (dementia) and Granddaughter to Marnie (reckless electric scooter bound granny).

Now, don’t get me wrong. I really have no need for materialistic showering’s of affection. But, it’s a nice gesture every now and again to receive the token.. “crystal” lucite vase (won at The Bridge Championship, 1975) that has till now, resided in the “end of the hallway” re-gifting closet at Grandma Marnie’s. Words cannot describe the delight in being “re-awarded” such an amazing antiquity such as this.

MARNIE (zooming down the hall in scooter): Honey. Come here for a second. I h-a-v-e something for you.

I have come to fear those innocent words. I. Have. Something. Partially because, at least in the last decade..those words are symbolic of the fact that soon, I will be hauling some new acquisition home that will take up MORE space in my “things that can never be donated for guilt and sentimental reasons” pile in the garage (usually on husbands side).

The worst was when I was recently helping Marnie get ready to move out of her home (of fifty years) and into Killjoy Senior Living, motto: if it’s not already done..We’ll do it to you. I’d spend hours helping Marnie dig through “treasures” that I “MUST take home” with me, because other wise it “will just be thrown out.” Yeah..Priceless artifacts, these. Nothing like THAT offer to come a runnin’ let me tell you. I can see all us grandchildren bickering and fighting over this little NUTS, BOLTS and SCREWS sculpture of a dude on “the can” reading a newspaper.

“I want it! I’ve ALWAYS wanted it.”

“No, I should have it! I’m the oldest.”

“It should go to ME! I had my NAME on it.”

Marnie tells me she has loved that bathroom art for years and now it should belong to ME to pass down to my children..and my children’s children. Yup. I can see her great-great grand-kids now.. gazing reverently at Nuts and Bolts man, feeling all inspired and contemplative.

“Honey, how about this?”

Well looky here Marnie has an avocado and gold colored gizmo that resembles a bed pa..
“Do you have a need for this “new” crock-pot?”

Ohhhh. THAT’S what that is. Silly me.

“How long have you had that Marnie?” I say, recalling that I may have seen something like this in Leave it to Beaver re-runs or pictured in my ancient Thoughts for Buffets cookbook (circa 1958). “Oh. Maybe a few years. If that.” Then the sentimental me starts envisioning, Granny Marnie in her cute little polka dot apron and strand of pearls, making some beef stew with potatoes and carrots, maybe a little onion.. Many decades before I ever existed.

“I never used it. But, I think your mother once brought home her science project in it.” S O L D! To the young lady with the sick look of dread all over her face processing knowledge of the nature of MOTHERS school science projects.

I made quite the score that day. I loaded into my car:

2 Portraits (48×600) Hand painted (by monkey) of my Great-Grandparents. Beautiful. Non-likeness, rendering. Estimated value according to Marnie: $5,000.00

2 Lined with tin foil woven reed cornucopias. Marnie Valued: $200.00 each

1 Fish platter (to hold my “CHICKEN LIVER pate”) in shape of fish (white stained plastic with colored fins) MV: $450.00

1 Gently scratched and rusted, Bundt Cake pan (which I must have, for when I entertain and make a Bundt cake). MV: at least $175 to replace it at Williams Sonoma

1 Yarn picture that I had made for Marnie when I was 6 years old. MV: Priceless.. “Here (tossing in car window). Take it with you.”

Lest you think me a terrible ingrate..
I jumped up and down in excitement the whole way to the car with Scooter Girl following closely to make sure I didn’t sneak anything back.

“Thank you Marnie, so much!” I sing, in my gleeful, “I’m going to Disney Land” voice.

“You’re welcome dear. May you enjoy those things as much as I did.”

You know what our gifts are? Ladies of MY SANDWICH GENERATION? Our gift from our senior family is the joy that we feel every time we make them smile. When we hear the tinkling (pardon the potty ref.) of their laughter and the look of contentment upon their face. We can feel our own fullness through theirs and we all know–there’s no better gift than that.

Happy Mothers Day!


Posted 13 years, 6 months ago at 6:03 pm.


One Track Mind


Dear Diary,

Seriously— How am I supposed to be debriefed on all the delectable dish from the Dementia floor of Happy Daze Assisted Living if my undercover paparazzo agent Ruth keeps leaving out huge chunks of SCOOP from her report? What am I supposed to do with this..

RUTH: That guy. I forget his name. You know the one who wears glasses? I saw him the other day try and.. You know what he tried to do? Right in FRONT OF ME he.. (long pause while examining her finger nails)

ME (leaning in closer for follow through): He WHAT?

RUTH:  Huh?

ME: You said a guy was doing something in front of you?

RUTH: I was? What guy? Where did you hear THAT?


I might if I’m feeling particularly curious, poke around a bit to see what other factoids I can unearth. My method is one that, if executed properly, will produce all kind of juicy little morsels that I then piece together to give me..VOILA! Knowledge. As Ruth’s ever so helpful daughter-in-law/advocate, it is my duty to be kept a breast on all the latest news and gossip information that I may (or may not) need to know. Because I feel that it would be useful for me to know what “that guy” was doing in front of my MIL, I continued my inquiry some fifteen minutes later. Somewhat casually I float “anything new happen today to you with a man wearing glasses?” It’s kind of like a GOOGLE keyword search. I need to fit in the words “man” “you” and “glasses” within an understandable context to spark Paparazzo Operative’s faulty memory.

RUTH: No, no. Not that I know of. Except..

I tend to unconsciously hold my breath at this point. I’m not sure why. It’s kind of like that old game show— Name That Tune. I can name that tune in “five” notes Dick. Well, Dick—I can NAME that Tune in four.

DICK: O.K. Mother Plucker..NAME THAT TUNE!

RUTH: I don’t think Albert likes me.

ME: Why don’t you think Albert likes you Ru?

RUTH: Well he did the strangest thing to me today.

Ah! Ha! I knew this would work. What did Albert do to Granny?

RUTH: Did I have my lunch today?

ME: Yes. You had Tuna and it was delicious. Ate the whole thing. What happened with Albert?

RUTH: Who’s Albert?

This whole back and forth can go on for..Hours. Days. Even months— when it’s Bad Karma payback time. Today, I decided to call it a day and let it go. Really what could be so bad over at Happy Daze that I would need to press???

ME: Wow! O.K. then..

ME: That Albert he looks so smart in his glasses. He really likes YOU Ruth.

RUTH: I don’t think so because today he..

OMG! I’m not even going to say anything about what Albert, whom I have now nicknamed the “WHIZZ kid” chose to do in the presence of my Undercover agent. My lips are SEALED.

Ladies, you are members of perhaps the coolest, hippest generation to ever be. My Sandwich Generation. As such, you must be very proficient at secret sleuthing when the need arises. If something doesn’t seem right,  just go with your gut. Dog that thing until you have uncovered Every. Last. Shred. of information and can put two and two together. Search her Facebook account, twitter, MY SPACE. Leave no stone unturned when it comes to eldercare safety and well-being for your mother or Grandmother or both.

All aboard!


Posted 13 years, 7 months ago at 8:46 pm.

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Well Bread

Marnie and Ruth

Let me just go on record as saying that my mother-in-law Ruth has impeccable manners and “to die for” social skills. At this point in her dementia, I can only really name, maybe a handful of behaviors that have NOT been affected by her declining cognitive abilities. The first one.. is her ability to recognize (with amazing dramatic flare) people she has NEVER met before. How she does this with such authenticity I do not know. But I have seen her in restaurants, warmly smile and begin a conversation with whoever is standing next to her that goes something like this:

“Good to see you. You’re looking so good. It’s been awhile hasn’t it? You look as if maybe you have trimmed down a bit since the last time I saw you. What is it that you usually order here?”

Notice that Ruth has finessed her way through a conversation with a complete stranger and said everything right. She has covered all required elements. Health (that nod to weight reduction does it EVERY time), wealth (“you come here often” implies you can afford to dine out rather than eat tuna sandwiches’ at home) and beauty (“looking so good..”). Who doesn’t die to hear that one?

The way Ruth delivers her well honed lines, leads the individual to rack their memory banks trying desperately to recall who this elderly woman is? I love this part. Funny! Very funny. Kind of cruel. But SOOO good! Then, they get seated and you can see they’re still out of sorts trying to place her face. The next step is always the same. Ruth turns to ME and asks “Who was that?” As if I can remember every person in the STATE, Ruth.

Isn’t that Frank? Bobby? Shirley? Erma? Ruth goes down a very long list of people she thought THAT might be. Such a friendly Ruth. Sometimes she engages in chitchat with scary people. I have to step in and remind her quietly that we shouldn’t talk to strangers.. that introduce themselves as Ruth’s first cousin (eight times removed)… who gave me that salad spinner for my wedding gift.
Ruth says a little too loudly “who’s SCARY?” Drat!

Lastly, Ruth has impeccable table manners. Upon choosing a table in which to dine over at Happy Daze Assisted Living’s ROAM floor—Miss Manners makes a point of introducing herself to all the nice folks seated around her table. We have gone through this ritual every meal (for the last 2.5 years). Eventually Ruth finds someone she remembers. “Don’t I know you from Pretencia Golf and Tennis Club? You look awfully familiar. Did we ever play together?” To which wheelchair bound Janet (Ruth’s next door roomy of 2.5 years) replies, “Could have been. I may have played you last week. You played a good game as I recall” Ruth: Well, sure! There ya go! That’s how I know you.

As the meal is served Granny waits very patiently; never picking up utensils to begin her meal, until all her other dining companions have started. She has so much restraint. One could put a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in front of her and there it will sit– until ALL the other members of her dining party are eating theirs. Only then will she allow herself to pick up the bowl and examine the contents inside before beginning her search for a knife to CUT it.

We, my MSG sweeties, were raised in different times. Those elegant and refined manners are something we may not have learned. The best advice I can give you is this. Watch very closely what THEY do and copy. This is a great way for us to hone our table skills in case we are ever invited to some fancy dinner at ROAM and don’t want to embarrass our mothers by using the wrong fork to stir our tea.

Nice to meet you too!


Posted 13 years, 7 months ago at 10:21 pm.