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Marnie (electric scooter girl) with her lunch. But..she's not hungry. FeDear Diary,

Granny Marnie is the sweetest granny a girl could EVER ask for. But every ONCE and awhile..when I least expect it—WHAM. I find myself face to face with Hurricane Hortense. Armed and totally dangerous. Upon her electric scooter she sits.. all pissy with eyebrows drawn in an angry “mono” slash.. (so will NOT touch them up..if you paid me) and spitting FIRE in the direction of any poor schlump (me) who happens to cross her path.. wearing thongs..thus making herself completely vulnerable to any crazed scooter drivers wiles. Maybe poor schlump is doing a kind SERVICE by picking fire breathing granny UP and taking her out for an errand? Hey. I just wanted to SPARE 95 yr. old Marnie the trouble (and bother) of hopping (um..maybe not the best choice of words) on public transit in 105 degree heat. How many times have I heard the tales of injustice and woe of being made to stay on the bus..while stop after stop goes by. Watching other scooter girls and scooter dudes get off before her. Coming darn close to PIP from having to hold it for hours. All the while STARVING..forcing her to peer into her designer handbag and dig around for napkin wrapped cookies from the “free cookies and fruit” room at KillJoy Senior living, she had placed there..ummm. Last week? Blech. It’s for emergencies just like THIS.. that one should always wrap up a few complimentary goodies.

I didn’t see it coming..but the first clue that something was up should have been the speed at which she took the first turn after getting off the elevator. Holy cow she’s heading right for me and she’s not slowing dow..

“Marnie! Stop. OMG. Don’t even think to come near me. Remember what happened to SmartAlec’s foot?”

I’m shuddering as I recall my eldest child’s yelps of anguish as Marnie came up a little too close behind him and “nipped” at his heels with her 4 wheel drive.

MARNIE: You shouldn’t even be wearing THOSE (pointing at Abercrombie flip flops) they’re kind of.. shabby (making sad and pathetic face). Say..would you like a pair of my old sandals? They’re MUCH nicer then the ones you have on and I’ve h-a-r-d-l-y ever worn them?

This is a trap. I have learned over the years..through trial and much error, how to identify a pothole and maneuver delicately around it. One false move and I will be plagued for weeks with..

“Why won’t you take the sandals?”

“Is your foot to FAT for the sandals?”

“All the girls I know have a good pair of SANDALS?”

“I won’t make you pay me back for the sandals.”

Let me tell you..I have taken inventory of every pair of shoes in Marnie’s closet and those sandals are circa 1975..One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest..Nurse Ratched specials. Lightly worn..down to the tan cork bottoms.

ME: Oh. Are you talking about the white plastic ones with the open toe? I ALREADY have a pair. I think my mother found bought them for a rummage sale. They look great worn with tan nylons.

Remember to add personalized touches as I did for authenticity in fabrication.

MARNIE: (thinking) Do you think your SISTER would like them?

If in doubt of what to do..throw sibling under the bus.

ME: Ga. YES. (swinging hands into air with HUGE enthusiasm). Ha Ha Ha. I K-N-O-W my sister would LOVE them. She’d look so much better in them, then ME. (cough cough)

Am I good. Or. What.

I still couldn’t shake Marnie from her funk. I got her seated and comfy in my car. Put a little towel down to cover the heated seat and EVERYTHING. Then had the brilliant thought, that I could coax a good mood into reality by playing some nice soothing..elevator music. Found out that Marnie can still YELL over The Beach Boys.

“I don’t know why I couldn’t have gone to the HOSPITAL to see Papa G. myself? I’m sure I can get around just FINE without your help. I could have taken the bus MYSELF. Why do you have to dictate to me? I’m NOT a CHILD. DO you hear me? I’m (stomp foot) NOT (stomp foot) A (hit hand on leg) CHILD (leg hit again).”

I glance in the back seat where my sons.. nine year old Aliendude and eleven year old SmartAlec have their mouths hanging open and their eyes bugging out of the sockets. I know in their heads they were thinking, “Don’t push her granny. Moms been known to pull the car over and threaten us with walking home for a whole lot less.” If you really must know..I did think that for a half a second. But I’m not sure that would have sat well..given that Marnie had no mode of transport back to KillJoy (left the wheel chair at home with the scooter) and if she tried hitching a ride back..who would see her sitting by the side of the highway with her thumb out?

“Marnie..I love you and your family wants to make life easier for you now. You shouldn’t have to go visit your husband in the hospital by YOURSELF.. on a bus if we can be here to do it. Your family should be allowed to give support. This is a time for family to be together.”

Silent treatment.

All I can hear is Aliendude chomping away on the same piece of Bubble tape he’s had for three hours. That must have lost it’s flavor by’d think. gnaw…

“Ok. Now I know where I am.”

What’s this? She speakith?

ME: What did you say Marnie?

MARNIE: You should make a left here and then you can park. Make a left..


MARNIE: No. I mean make a right.


MARNIE: Maybe it is a left.

I’m dropping you off here. I’ll go park.

The ride home was soooo much nicer now that Marnie had seen Papa G. She had some very sweet and tender moments with him that erased all the hostility of the morning..almost.

“Dear..I’m NOT hungry. You go ahead and get the kids something to eat. I don’t want a THING. When you get to be my just don’t have much of an appetite anymore. If I’m not hungry..then I’m not hungry. I really can’t eat a sin..”

Fine. Enough said on the subject of Marnie and hunger.

As the kids we’re getting back in the car and I was helping them with their veggie-burgers and fries..I happen to glance at Marnie. She was unwrapping a white paper napkin from her purse and to my great surprise pulling out cookies. Then she’s all.. “nom nom nom” on these grotty oatmeal delights that have been in her purse for who knows HOW LONG.

“Marnie. WHAT are you doing?”

MARNIE: I got hungry.


My Sandwich Generation..sometimes you just have to suck it up and stick to your guns. There are going to be times with your seniors..where your actions will not be welcomed. Shocking. I. Know. Then the skill is— to keep calm and refrain from using anything higher then “level 2” swear words. If you get into the “level 1” bombs..remove yourself from your senior ASAP and take a few deep breaths before continuing. Remember—your upper slice is adapting to a new way of functioning and it’s not easy to feel you’re losing your freedom and control. Just remind them they are still calling the shots. You’re just there to MAKE life easier..because they deserve the very BEST.

!@#&#*! BEEP. BEEP.


Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 14 years, 9 months ago at 12:08 am.


Love Triangle

Front row: Left Papa G. Marnie, RuthDear Diary,

Today I did the impossible..I hit THREE..yes—you heard right. T-H-R-E-E  different health care under six hours. If that’s not the kick ARSE-E-EST..then I don’t know WHAT is. First stop was to visit Papa G. who’s exquisitely BAD timing has put him smack dab in the middle of MY Sandwich.. which is already full up and stuffed to the gills with my MIL Ruth (dementia) and Granny Marnie (electric scooter girl) topping it off. What this means is..Papa G… although most needing of his TLC time.. gets totally gypped because of the competition. As luck would have it, G won me first..lucky dude. Off I went to the lovely Nursing Home setting of Cruel-ill de’Villa..where every room has a spectacular view of the water below. I’m sure all the residents find it very reassuring, that if they feel well enough..they can just pop down to the dock and have a ski before breakfast..anytime they want. THAT.. in itself is something to live for. Hmpf.

Time spent with “G.” demands a completely different approach then with the other two girls. First of all..I get to do all the talking. This is not as hard as it sounds. I am so AMAZING at talking about absolutely nothing (to myself) for twenty..even thirty minutes. Cripes. It startles me how good I am. Some would find it daunting to carry on a monologue in the presence of a sleeping audience. I welcome it as a challenge of my craft. I pull up along side Papa G.’s bedside and whisper a hello. I know that even though he’s sleeping most.. if not all of the time these days..he’ll welcome the conversation of one who leads such a thrilling and extraordinary life..

“..and then AFTER I took a picture of the kids burnt EGGO waffles and posted them on twitpic.. I did the laundry. (pause) Hey. I know. Do you want me to play some music for you. Yeah..sure you do– might enjoy that (as opposed to me sitting here prattling on for the next 45 min.). Let’s see..(shuffling through iTunes library) how about this..?”

How can Papa G. not love Nickelback? Naahhhhh. Something in the B’s maybe? Oh. This might work. Breathe..Michelle Branch. CLASSIC. I’m a big believer in subliminals. This could accomplish TWO things at once..relaxation and inspiration. I click it on and hold it up to his ear watching for some sign of enjoyment..Wait. Was that a movement I just saw. “Papa G. do you like this?” OMG he made an affirmative noise.. I’m sure of it. I’m watching very carefully..leaning in close. Wahhhh. He’s snoring. Time to try massage. Very soothing.

Where are my kids when all this excitement is going down? My boys are very used to making the rounds (when later compensation is involved). Aliendude and Smartalec come fully equipped with their DVD player and are pro’s at the advanced age of nine and eleven in the eldercare arena. Fingers CROSSED that they retain this knowledge for some—oh..I don’t know. Some future NEED. Through trial and error we’ve learned that some facilities are more kid friendly then others. Cruel-ill is a little bit on the “not so much” side. Happy Daze Assisted..on the other hand offers all the pop you can drink, unlimited stale cookies and a pool table..that will help build great and wonderful skill in my boys when they hit.. Vegas.

Ruth was going to be a snap after Papa G. because my conversation with her is guaranteed to be stimulating. I ran up the back staircase and hit the keypad lock to push the secret door aside up on ROAM (Team dementia headquarters). Why, would you lookie here? We have an absolutely cutthroat game of “frap-a-pingo” (Ruth’s nod to the Mocha Frappuccino’s from our fav Starbucks mixed with BINGO) going on here. Faye as usual is shouting at the top of her lungs her infamous line..

“She cheated. I saw her cheat (pointing at Ru). She knows FULL well she doesn’t have an s-3. Take it off N-O-W.”

OH. PLEEEEZE Faye. If I had a nickel for EVERY time you pulled a fast one..I’d be on a cruise ship to Vancouver. With Ru..and the kids. Ru might be helping the kids onto the deck tables so they might yell “MOM, we can see MUCH better from here. Woo Hoo.” Leaning way over the railing to view the icy waters below.. thus eliciting shrieks of terror from their mother.. Huh? Oh. Yeah. I’ll tell you about THAT one another time.

Ruth said the heat of the day was beginning to take a toll on her person and I readily agreed. I removed her from Faye’s insults not because WE’RE afraid of Faye (which we are) but because some concern was aired by granny regarding the symptoms of “profuse perspiration (neck dampness) and confusion” which we all know, could point to a myriad of heat related issues. In someone NOT in an air-conditioned room—chugging cranberry punch and sporting dementia. I decided the best action under these dangerous conditions was to spritz her down with a bottle of FIJI water I had hidden in her linen closet for this VERY reason. Here. Sit back and relax in the nice lazy boy recliner granny. Maybe you’d like another sip of Passion Tea-lemonade? “Just r-e-l-a-x. Close your eyes and pretend you’re in Hawaii.” I coo. Hoping to settle her down after Faye’s hurtful (and SO true) accusations of dishonorable conduct.

“How can I relax. I’m in the middle of a MONSOON?”

Pffffffft. Too much wind and surf? Ignoramus I. AC down high. Here’s a towel.

I gathered up the kids from the poolroom.. where they had skillfully engineered a ramp out of the pool sticks and were rolling the balls down in groups of ten..towards the a sort of booby trap (I can’t say that my children don’t use their time wisely). It was time to drop them at home with dad and hit the happiest place on earth next. KillJoy -if it hasn’t been done..we’ll do it to you. Humble abode of sweet dear Marnie..electric scooter girl par excellence.

Marnie was having a tough time tonight. I knew it definitively when ALL she could compliment me on was my “thick eyebrows”. Yup. We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel these days. Granny is missing Papa G. so much since he moved over to
Brand X. She is concerned he sleeps so much and eats so little. I have to remind her that a dude gets PRETTY tired when he’s worked for almost all of the 96 years of his life. Speaking of tired..and hungry. I seem to recall I have..KIDS. Time for me to head on home and dive into the lower slice of my big heaping mouthful..of delight. The meal is waiting for me at my table.



Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 14 years, 9 months ago at 11:27 pm.

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Tales from the Family Tree

Grandma Ru at Step 'n Crap parkDear Diary,

One of the MOST fun and exciting discussions I could ever have with my MIL Ruth (dementia) includes some discussion of the family. Now..I have to tell you. The reason I find this so dang INTERESTING is that Ruth in her state of memory loss..tends to take some creative and artistic liberty in filling in some of the small memory gaps of these specific members.. with some p-r-e-t-t-y colorful details. Usually— these richly entertaining sessions are brought about by her grandsons AlienDude and SmartAlec, exhibiting some bizarre-o behavior that kick-starts the long-term memory station into full gear..launching us headlong into a “I remember how your great uncle Teddy used to do THAT very same thing when he was a kid.” Really granny? I hadn’t realized that they HAD Coinstar machines in Kroger’s grocery stores in the 1930’s. I can just picture it. Long curly haired, 9 yr. old Teddy..dressed in his little white sailor collared top and matching shorts and tights.. gingerly inserting his leftover Chuck E. Cheese tokens into the COINSTAR in a pathetic attempt at thievery.

It wouldn’t be right to contradict or correct granny in her rehashing the good ole days—so usually I sit back, relax and let the magic unfold.

“I remember your Granny Marnie (electric scooter girl) when SHE was a girl. Maybe she was 5 or 6 at the time..let’s see if I’m 90(buzz.. your 82) and she’s 80 (buzz..she’s 95) then..(this ought to be good) I must have been a..teenager. We would go on sleepovers JUST like YOU boys do. We had the BEST time together. We’d play all sorts of games like you do now. What are the names of some of your favorites?”

AlienDude: We like Nintendo DS..Mario vs Donkey Kong

Heh Heh Heh. Like to see you work with THIS one Ruth.

Ruth: Oh..we used to play that for hours.(Kids nodding their heads with big grins..Ga.)

Ruth: Is it hard for you when they put the blindfold on and spin you around to pin on the tail?

Hmmmm. Yeah. I can see how we got here. Nice return.

I think it’s important for the children to know from where they came. To feel connected to something bigger then themselves. A time of great family values..and morals. A time of..

“You should hear what your FATHER used to do when he was your age.”

OMG. Please let’s not go here. Pleaseeee.



ME: Ruth..maybe you should tell the boys about great great grandpa Max. I’ll bet they would love to hear about how he started the family business..?

RUTH: Ahhhh. Grandpa Max. Well, let’s see what I can tell you. (thinking) Oh..the funniest thing..

This should be good.

Your FATHER used to tie up the babysitter and launch a full-scale attack..

“We do that! We do that!”

Great. Now you’ve just endorsed their disgraceful behavior by invoking the name of their Father to give it credibility and acceptance. Cripes.

The best stories are always when Ruth talks about the time with her own father and the sweet relationship they had. It’s almost hard to BELIEVE she had her own NORDSTROM card at “their age” and use of the family VOLVO a few years later. Wow. Her folks were really ahead of their time. I only hope I can do as great a job with our kids.

My Sandwich will find the tales of the olden days are a wonderful way for you to interact with your seniors. Take full advantage of the time you spend getting the scoop.. Then YOU will be able to continue passing it on to your kids..with embellishment of course— for the many generations to come. Remember to add.. “and they all lived happily ever after. H-A-V-E to have THAT.”

The end.



Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 14 years, 9 months ago at 9:32 pm.

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I Want to Hold Your Hand

Gart and RuthDear Diary,

Some points you should know about dating on floor ROAM over at Happy Daze Assisted Living heh..heh..heh. It’s a l-i-t-t-l-e bit different than what YOU might EXPECT. Forget about meeting at bars or being set up by your best friends roommate. Ugh. The. Drama. Getting up in the middle of dinner under the false pretense of using the ladies room..only to text your daughter-in-law that, “He’s such a loser. ROFL. His dentures keep falling out of his mouth when he slurps and noms his apple sauce. Makes me want to hurl.” Huh? I should have NEVER taught my MIL Ruth how to text. I don’t even know HOW she REMEMBERS. What? Don’t look at me.. I showed her three times. Feh. He just needed more denture glue..that’s all. Judgie.

Dating young, cute girls with dementia like Ruth.. just got a whole lot easier with the new and improved system of dating. To hook up with the IT girl on the Alzheimer’s floor is not always easy at first. There are a MILLION (two) guys fighting for a place by her side at Flexi-Fingers, Exercise or Happy Hands Class and how can a girl choose..when she can’t see well enough to tell you apart from the competition? But if you play your cards right as new boyfriend Gart’ll end up with the most adorable, put together gal..sporting the hottest clothing trends like nobody’s business..with I might add— amazing hair. Booyah.


1. Run into girl in Hallway (with your walker and not TOO hard) trying to find your room.

2. Find out where girl lives.

3. Walk up and down hall with girl for an hour trying to find HER room and your room.

4. Ask girl what her name is.

5. Tell girl what YOUR name is.

6. Invite girl to sit with you at lunch.

7. Ask girl AGAIN what her name is.

8. Meander up and down the hall for another 30 minutes trying to find the dining room.

9. Sit down at table.

10. Introduce yourself to girl. Find out what girls name is.

11. Hold Hands.


Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 14 years, 9 months ago at 10:06 pm.

1 comment


Granny MarnieDear Diary,

I believe in the importance of allowing my Granny Marnie (electric scooter girl) to do as MUCH as possible by herself..without doing something dumb, which could ultimately put her in harms way and force me to scream, “WHAT are YOU thinking in that HEAD of yours MARNIE?” To which she will respond, “I’m sorry honey..I wasn’t thinking. How was I supposed to know that I COULDN’T push the couch back where it was originally.. by ramming it with my scooter. Repeatedly. Until I knocked the lamp over—almost causing the bulb to shatter in a million pieces potentially causing disfigurement or blindness or both??”

Maybe I cook a meal or two (it’s easier for me to deal with a kitchen fire that I start) and drive her around when she’ll let me (still fighting for her re-instatement of driving privileges) but in the bigger picture Marnie wants to “do it herself” and I have no other choice but to honor that..pretty much. What I have never really participated any aspect of her personal grooming. Ummmm. The exception being..the artful sketching of two symmetrical, perfectly arched brows when the times warrant and the brushing and proper placement of her cherished “Susie”.. her hairpiece of five years. Still.. there are some activities that are really just NOT going to happen because of her ever so slight disadvantage of being electric scooter bound and …95 years of age. The. Shower.

In the past..whenever I suspected deception in the hygiene department..I very delicately went sniffing for answers to my nagging question about the HOWS and WHENS of said shower habits.

ME (scootching up real close to Marnie): I love you Marnie.

MARNIE: I love you dear. Have you had lunch?

ME: I’m good. I had a big lunch (mixed nuts from Trader Joe’s) earlier. (sniffing) You smell goooooood..what kind of SOAP do you use THESE days?

MARNIE (thinking deeply with eyebrows still in “smile” mode): Well..I’m not sure what kind it is? I’ll tell you what..When I think of the name— I’ll buy you a bar for a special gift.

Using my extraordinary super sleuthing techniques..I can get Marnie to show me.. not only the soap (inspecting for any signs of use) but also the chance to asses moisture in the shower area. When I see NO hint that the shower has been used (Irish Spring STILL in original wrapper) I start poking around a bit more.. to get to the bottom of things—so to speak.

ME: Marnie. When was the last time you got in the shower?

MARNIE: Oh I DO.. once in awhile dear. I just do sponge baths, which are almost the same thing.

Which brings me to my very FIRST time getting my Granny Marnie from her electric scooter into the S-H-O-W-E-R and back out again..ALIVE.

It’s not that I haven’t been pushing Marnie since she moved into KillJoy Senior Living: if it’s not already done—we’ll do it to you.. to GET help in the shower department from the day she moved in. I started casually.. with my various techniques of persuasion ranging from:

1. BLUNT: If you one will want to play Bridge with you.

2. GUILT: I bought YOU all those EXPENSIVE soaps from Crabtree & Evelyn..when I could have spent the money on your poor..UNDERPRIVILAGED great grand children..who have NEVER even been to Maui and have worn the same NIKE’s for months.

3. BRIBERY: If you get some shower help..I MAY overlook the fact that you have
5 dozen shortbread cookies and a dozen bananas shoved in your this very moment.. taken from the “free cookies and tea” room.

MARNIE: They WANT you to take the cookies. That’s what they’re there for.

“ know as well as I—that KillJoy doesn’t even consider the possibility that someone would go in with a suitcase and dump platters of refreshments into it. Since you won’t cooperate and hire someone to shower I will do you myself.”

I think I have never seen Marnie throw off her clothing SO fast..all the while whoopin’ and hollerin’ from the bathroom, “You know you don’t have to do this dear. It’s not too late to change your mind..O.K. Ta Da.. I’m ready.”

Uhhhhhhh. Think Adrienne. T-h-i-n-k. Best way to maneuver Granny out of her scooter..with her two legs whose only function these days are to sit there and look pretty..Here’s what I’m going to do. I’ll move the scooter to the very edge of the shower and the shower chair to the inside edge to meet it and LIIIIIIIIIIIFT. One more time. LIIIIIIIFFFFTTTTTT. Ughhhhhhhhh.

Cripes all mighty.

One more try Marnie. On the count of three..One..Two..Three.. UPPPPPPPPP.

Wow. Your boobs are a lot bigger then I remember them. Have they always been that big?

DOWN. Phewwwww.

“How ya doin’ Marnie?” I ask, as I wipe the sweat from my forehead. Drat. I need to work out my core. Poor core stability leads to all kinds of evils..some of which are letting themselves be known as Marnie  suds’ away happily. My back hurts and my abs spasm. Shame on me for not doing dead lifts and crunches with any sort of regularity over at Club Pretensia. Yeah. But if Papa G has been doing THIS all these years as Marnie claims and he’s 96..I see no reason WHY I should be suffer..

“Time to get me out dear. Put the towel on my scooter and then I’ll sit on it to dry off.”

“OUT? Already? But just got in..(checking watch) thirty minutes ago.”


“Marnie. I’m going to wash your hair. (Grabbing shower nozzle) Just sit back and relax you’re in for a real treat..



Marnie got it.. right in the face. That dang devil hose had a mind of it’s own..water blasting up Marnies nostrils, through the shower curtain and all over the bathroom floor. Thankfully Susie the hairpiece was spared.. the scooter and yours truly? Not so much. I just carried on with the scalp massage.. as if this was all a part of the plan. Water up the nose in some countries can be extremely therapeutic..clears up all kinds of sinus issues.

Grabbing on to a slippery, wet naked Marnie is a job for a skilled “shower helper” and not some kind of shower girl “wanna be”. I am overly confident to a fault and saw no reason why I couldn’t treat this situation as I do a game of “Capture the Watermelon” in the swimming pool. Are you familiar with that game? You slather Crisco all over a humongous melon and then try to capture it and bring it over to the side of the pool for safety. So NOT like that game. Marnie has gained a few pounds from all those free cookies.. I can tell you RIGHT now. I grabbed her around the waist..pulling her tight in for control and held on for dear life. Then I flung her into her scooter.

“How’s THAT. Was it a good shower Marnie?”

Marnie was grinning so widely you would have thought she hadn’t seen a shower in..

OMG. It had been TWO weeks. Papa G hadn’t been well ( wasn’t his BACK) and had been spending time in the hospital. Marnie being one who does everything herself just let a few MINOR things go. Not anymore.

Marnie has shower help now. She tells me she doesn’t like the staff to do TOO much. The nice girl can come and get Granny in the shower and help her get out. But then..I come to find out..Marnie tells her to leave. Why? “Because I can dry myself off and get the myself..when I’m wet.” I know JUST what to do when Marnie does this.

ME: Marnie. Did you know you’re paying the girl to help you dry off and get dressed? Don’t you want to get your MONEY’S Worth? Think of all of that MONEY you’re wasting if you don’t let the girl do what you’re PAYING her to do.


See how I did that?

I don’t care what your SENIORS tell you My Sandwich Generation members..always be persistent in confirming their answers with documented FACTS. If you are in the position of advocate..some skill will be necessary in allowing parents to arrive at the decision themselves..that SKILLED help or any help is necessary in risky situations. Or..if they could always threaten do it.. YOURSELF.



Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 14 years, 9 months ago at 10:06 pm.

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Marnie the head honcho

Nothing brings an enormous glowing smile to Granny Marnies face then.. having her eyebrows drawn on properly (I knocked the “arch” out of the park this time..heh) AND having her huge brood surround her for a family meal (somewhere OTHER than her place). There our illustrious matriarch sits..fully engaged in the act of observing her grandchildren and great-grand children slamming down their fish sticks and fries in unison.. and defending a little too loudly each others parenting skills (or lack thereof). Like when her second born Grandson’s DAUGHTER.. little Polly Pockets, made a grab for the toy TASER her fifth born granddaughters SON Luke Skywalker was happily amusing himself with..under the table.

I SAW THE WHOLE THING. When Marnie’s head was turned toward the dessert table..sweet dainty Polly slid down under the table and wrangled the gun away from Lukie..while placing him in a choke hold from which there was NO escape. Then she used the weapon as a maraschino cherry masher with the remnants’ of her Shirley Temple cocktail and a handy dandy NOSE picker..which for all intensive purposes was a little unsettling to watch. Luke melted down on the SPOT..because naturally “THAT’S snott howz it’s spossed to be used MAMA.” Then we had the big heated debate on the subject of how YOUNG is too young to be trained in toy taser usage. Some say five..some six. Fe.

Talk about exciting one to a point of near delirium. As Marnie looked out from the head of the table..a seat only reserved for the very powerful (or those who must drive electric scooters) enthralled by the many generations assembled before her.. she believed she was seeing..not only the MOST well behaved progeny known to mankind but also the most intelligent. I was not for a second going to shatter her illusion..Until SOMEONES child dumped cherry Popsicle down my neck.

Posted 14 years, 9 months ago at 5:37 pm.


Happy Hands

Hand and Nail JobDear Diary,
It is a well know FACT that women like my MIL Ruth (dementia) don’t just use their manicurist to get their chipped, bitten, hangnail ridden paws beautified (although that’s a nice perk). The real satisfaction comes from the huge relief that the woman feels from spilling her guts (or whatever she’s able to recall of her guts) to a well trained PROFESSIONAL. This soul barfing involves, the sharing of deep secret feelings (Ruth actually LIKED the unstructured hooch sheer blouse that I was forced to hide) and life “experiences” (all the good ones are Married or Dead) with the beauty licensed individual in IMPLIED confidentiality (wink wink).. who THEN— does a FULL professional analysis and helps guide you in possible appropriate actions..for as long as it takes to arrive at them..

Or until the topcoat gets dry.

Then it’s on to the next patient (client)..who will press for a blow-by-blow account of every little juicy detail of the plight of the distressed old dear that came before. All that AND the added joy of knowing that for about the same cost as seeing a real counselor (depending of course on whether you get served tea and cookies in your nail therapy session) she’s receiving fab nails and great advice from an almost real certified shrink. Doesn’t GET much better than THAT.

Don’t you think that insurance should cover mani-pedi’s? First we had to break ground with some alternative treatment options like ACUPUNCTURE and Feng it will be nails and waxing. Mark. My. Words. Sooooo much benefit..and healing.. for the masses.

In Ruth walks.. two minutes shy of  her 12:15 p.m. manicure appointment down on the main floor of Happy Daze Assisted Living. Scruffy nailed, chipped and worn down from a hard week of eating, drinking and partying on floor ROAM (Alzheimer’s). Ruth shuffles in at lightening speed..eager to get to the nail station and begin her treatment. She’s greeted by an adorable, personable, intelligent, size 2 Feh..SIZE 6 girl..who couldn’t have been a day over 25 ummm..over 35.
And did I mention t-h-i-n?

ME: O.K. So.. come sit over here Madame (pointing to the table covered in paper towels). I have set up a perfect little nook in which to do your nails today.

“Why thank you.” Ruth Mae (or may NOT) says— as I guide her over to the VIEW table (hottie construction men across the street.. shirtless.. shweeeeet) that I have set up to resemble Salon She She Poo Poo..almost EXACTLY. I assembled a nice little selection along the window ledge of maybe four or five bottles of the same color.. OPI Almost Virgin pink and one bottle of white for custom design work. Why no variety in shades?

A.  Remove any possibility of bad color choices

B. Avoid confusion and stress of having to decide which will look better with her sweater and blouse color palette

C. Allow her to still FEEL that she has the POWER to make altering decisions..when in fact she doesn’t. Uhhhhhhhhhh..
Well— this may NOT be so accurate a statement because Ru totally talked me in to using the most putrid shade of ROT and threatened to not leave a TIP unless I “did what the CUSTOMER asked” the last time I polished her. Blech..I guess you know who wears the PANTS in this relationship. Please note: will NEVER again cave in and do Sally Hansen, Hard as Nails.. Gangreen #05 for a cheesy .25 cents and a half eaten Rice Crispy Treat.

Granted.. the free fruit and cookies room doesn’t offer the same ambiance that the more ritzy shops offer, but what we lack in amenities we make up for in enthusiasm.

ME: Before I start your nail treatment..may I offer you a beverage? Some tea or chilled prune juice perhaps?

Ruth M.: Do you have anything STRONGER?

ME: Nicccccce. Tell me again where you think you are?

Ruth: Well, the OTHER place gives out wine. What kind of cheap joint is this? (Tee hee hee. Tee hee hee)

ME: Fun-ny. Just play along..would ya? May I get you some bananas or..I know. How about some green foil thin free mints? Maybe a few of these freshly baked two-day-old sugar cookies would hit the spot?

It’s my feeling as a skilled nail artist that the best victim..MIL..can have will only happen if she is utterly relaxed. To accomplish this it is of the UTMOST importance to begin with a comfy chair.

“Ru. Come sit here. This looks like it will work.” I have found a gently curved, rather firm plastic chair that will do the trick just f-i-n-e..if I fluff up her ski parka and lay it down first.


RUTH: Sure. What is this I’m sitting on?

ME: The seat cover.

RUTH: Why are there dirty TISSUES falling out of it?

ME: Maybe that’s what they stuffed it with.

Once I get my MIL settled, I begin the inspection of damage done from the LAST polish therapy session and begin the removal of what is left of..
You. Guessed. It.

OPI Almost Virgin.. all the while encouraging the sharing of feelings. This is a very cleansing process..

RUTH: Is THAT what they teach you in beauty school. I don’t remember removing polish THAT way when I was a girl.

ME: (pouring Cutex Nail Polish remover into Styrofoam cup): That’s beee-cause you weren’t up on the cutting edge techniques like we are today. Remember all those COTTON ball fuzzies that would float on to your wet newly painted nails? using my newly discovered removal trick..say “good bye” to stuck on cotton threads.

I take Ruth’s hand and gently shove it in the non-environmentally appropriate container. As I lift it out of the toxic liquid..SHAZZZAMMMM! Wet, drippy..still polished nails. This is where the paper towel table covering comes in handy. Just grab a few of those and wipe off the whole mess. SEE? Ha. It worked.

When painting the deliver PERFECTION requires absolutely stillness. What this means matter what story Ruth is sharing I must not react or else I will botch the job and have to start over.

RUTH: Harriet shoved me in the elevator when we were coming back from the bus ride so I popped her one. Guess who Irma’s sleeping with?

CRIPES! Stick your hand B-A-C-K in the styro foam cup Ruth. Again.

When you are a true nail artist plus SHRINK all rolled into have to expect that the procedure may take upwards of an hour or two. In the end..the nails always look great and all the little “flubs” covered inconspicuously with some very cute little symbol.

RUTH (Admiring my work): They look swell Adrienne.. Except—what’s with these white blobs. What kind of DISEASE do I have?

Dear, dear friends of My Sandwich Generation..Sometimes it’s not the end result of an action that is so important but the process of the action that delivers the greatest fulfillment for our seniors. Nails looked fantastic. Therapy..brought joy and light heartedness..(snicker snicker). The action becomes the VEHICLE for quality “touch” time together. Who needs a fancy manicure anyway? Cough. (Something in my throat.) Just serve up the tea and cookies and let the conversation run (all over the place). Just one TIP..if you want one. Do what the customer needs..not what YOU need. Next time she can choose MAC Navy Blue.


Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 14 years, 9 months ago at 1:21 am.

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Ruth's RomeoDear Diary,

I am basically watching an incredibly ludicrous version of Romeo and Juliet unfold before my very eyes. I’m telling you..this is something my buddy William might script in place of the original.. AFTER drinking a few too many jiggers of ale with his wenches and deciding to “put it all out there” to showcase his TRUE wit and comedic genius. Most of you groan audibly at the mere mention of anything Shakespeare. But what if I told you that playing the lead role of the beautiful young lover Juliet was my eighty-two year old MIL Ruth (dementia) and her young strapping dude Romeo.. played by..none other than the extremely married Gart (also dementia). If you ever read the Cliffs Notes in college you’ll recall that this little saga took place in Verona (Starbucks dark roast— people) Italy in about roughly the same year my MIL claims she was born..1303. Two crazy kids shook up their feuding families by hooking up..( He-l-l-o-o? Hormones.) and then died for each other many pages later all in the name of some seriously mind blowing..Phewwww.
Bet you’re sorry you never read it.. huh?

This new twisted version of the Shakespeare classic.. unlike the original, plays out in the beautiful and romantic halls of ROAM, USA (Alzheimer’s floor) at Happy Daze Assisted Living. Ruth fell head over heels for Gart many months ago, when he smiled at her during Easy Bake Cooking hour while she attempted to scoop two cups worth of Duncan Hines cake mix into the bowel using the 1/8 teaspoon to do it. Chocolate cake granules floated all hither and tither.. getting in granny’s well shelaqued hair, eyes and covering her floral patterned apron. GART being the gentleman that he is.. gently and tenderly wiped some of the powder trapped in her chin hairs away with a gentle touch and Ruth responded with a big toothy grin. She gazed into his eyes and he into hers. Then she moved her face closer towards his.. looking deep into his eyes she exclaimed, “Hey! Aren’t you the guy that drives the bus?” To which he replied, “Could very well be. Did you see me drive a bus? I didn’t know that I remembered how to do those things.” In those few spoken words Ruth and our married boy Gart became a couple.

What a courtship these two had. Every day was like falling in love all over again. They held hands, they kissed, they.. (I would say more, but then I don’t want someone to enter THOSE key words in a Google search and pull THIS up)..held HANDS. Until one day when Ruth looked all over for Gart and couldn’t find him. She approached her NURSE..just like the original Jules had done so many years before.

“Here comes my nurse and she brings news.”

Actually. It was more like..

“Excuse me. Do you work here? I’m looking for my boyfriend…Darn. I always forget his name. What is HIS name? Have you seen him?”

The nurse now has been thrust into the awkward situation of breaking the news to Ruth.. that Gart cannot see her anymore because Garts wife has forbid the courtship (spoil sport) and asked that the two be separated at all times. AS. IF.

NURSE: Ruth..(Long pause, while sweet Kenyan aid thinks fast.) Gart moved to Japan.

O.K. probably not the most BELIEVABLE scenario..and yet..

RUTH: Really? Did he go on the bus?

NURSE: I think so. Should we go into the other room and do some nice napkin folding? You always like to do that.

RUTH: (peering into the dining room) Hey. Is that himmmm? Well. I’LL. BE. (Shuffling merrily toward Gart while bumping into stray couches and walkers that line her path) He’s B-A-C-K. GART..Yoo Hoo! How was your trip darling?

Ruth and Gart could have probably pulled the whole romance thing off..but you know that saying, “Loose lips sink ships”? Well, as the story goes Garts eighty-eight year old wife Thelma who lives down stairs in unassisted living (and rumored to be dating a younger man) came up for a little “conjugal” visit (sat next to him during Happy hands class) last week. It could have all been one nice love triangle if Gart HADN’T introduced his “friend” Ruth.. to Thelma as “Ruth, the really good kisser”. Not such a smart move Gart. And why just stop there?
Why not share EVERYTHING so your wife will have you under surveillance 24/7 and not allow you to so much as squint in the direction of that OTHER WOMAN.  K.

Ruth is miffed.

Gart is in lock down.

As for me? I’m shoveling crappy half melted “free” green foiled thin mints.. that I swear have been sitting in Ruth’s coat pocket for my mouth in oblivious frustration. How can these two be kept apart? Ga. She sees him EVERY day and my Ruth doesn’t do well with the look but don’t touch policy.. Alas, if Mrs. Montague says “no”.. then it’s mega Motrin for us Capulets.

“Adrienne, I don’t understand why they won’t let me see..(thinking deeply)”


ME: Gart

RUTH: Who?

ME: Why they won’t let you see “Gart”.

RUTH: Oh. You mean that fella I like? The one with the “Bubonic Plague.”

What? It works.. for about ten minutes. I figure I’ll use that for awhile and then move on to something else. Let’s see..what’s good?

Friends and countrymen and women of MY SANDWICH GENERATION.. let nothing shock you. These natural relationships develop and they can add YEARS and quality to your senior’s life if respected and understood. Just hope that the OTHER side has become as well informed about all matters of the elder heart as you. We want only happy endings in our version of the story.

Parting is such sweet sorrow..


Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 14 years, 9 months ago at 12:43 am.



Ruth the Party girl

Dear Diary,

Don’t you love slumber parties? My MIL Ruth (dementia) did. That was BEFORE Ruth’s girlfriend Marion came over unannounced from next door for the wildest night ever in slumber party history. As Ruth tells it..she was all tucked in for the night. All warm and cozy in bed at 8:00 p.m sharp..wearing her nice flannel nightie (the red one with the white lip prints) and trying to remember what she had for dinner.. just like she does EVERY night. She tells me she was beat because she had had a vigorous Happy Feet dancing class and she got stuck dancing with Heath “Cracks” Johnson (MTV fanatic and gangsta style connoisseur) who watches much too much of “that show” and thinks HE can dance.

Ruth was about to drift off peacefully to her blissful, happy place and all of a sudden.. Marion barges in. Not because she suddenly got the urge to discuss boys, chin hairs or the latest eyebrow trends with Ruth..oh no. That would be too dull. She’s shown up at Granny’s bedside to PROTECT her from a team of fully armed imaginary commando dudes which have her room at Happy Daze Assisted Living surrounded. Not only that..but at any minute will try to capture and take her.. WHERE? Where are they taking her Marion? Oh.. to BRAINWASH her. Uh if there is ANYTHING up there in the ole memory banks to WASH.
No. Wait. This. Just. Gets. Better.

Marion’s pulling on Ruth’s leg from the foot of the bed shouting, “They have us surrounded and they’re coming in. Hurry. Hurry. The men are coming. I won’t let them TAKE you.” Ruth’s eyes are bugging out of her head and she yells, “Who’s coming in? OMG..not yet! I’m still in my pajamas and I don’t have my lipstick on. Where do they want to go? I can be ready in five.” Then Marion begins to shout instructions at Ruth. Get down. Stay low. Get under the bed. “Wow. Look what I found?” Ruth squats down and VOILA! Produces the match to the pearl clip-on earring she’s had me searching for..for like a MONTH. Marion meanwhile was getting more and more into character.. right down to the grabbing of the phone and demanding Ruth call for back up. I know I’ve seen this scene somewhere before. It’s out of some full featured film that most likely got lodged in Marions playback loop. Drat the staff for playing those old Bogart movies. My guess is— that they were watching Casablanca. Maybe, it was Desperately Seeking Susan. Eckkkk. Then might have been Bambi they were forced to watch all afternoon. Maybe Marion thinks the hunters are tracking Ruth..or maybe.. Why do I let myself GO here.

Ruth said she tried to rationalize with Marion but Marion was so darn CONVINCING in her role as protector. She had Ruth believing that she really WAS an undercover spy who had been discovered.. after Blanche in room 342 ratted her out. All the staff are really undercover FBI who want to gain entry into Ruth’s room to cart her away forever. No more manicures, facials or the like. A life of torture. Stashed away in some room with only a few visitors. Feeding her hefty portions of high fat foods and making her watch hours and hours of TV. Drilling her relentlessly..asking the SAME questions OVER and OVER again.. What do you want to eat? What’s your name? How old are you? They’ll stop at nothing to get that information. Hmmm. Marion was drawing on some experience..I just can’t PLACE it.

“Place the call.” Marion demanded, in her urgent husky voice. Ruth picked up the phone and dialed the only phone number I had written on a piece of paper taped on to her nightstand..My


Because mama didn’t raise no (any) dummy.

Ruth says she told her son (my BIL), that Marion was holding her hostage.. because Marion was trying to protect her from the guys outside her door with the HazMat suites on who wanted to kidnap her and perform a BRAINRINSE. Could he please send help or at least talk to Marion. She was getting “tired” and needs to find some tea and cookies ASAP, because she didn’t remember if she ate dinner. Now I ask you.. what are you supposed to do with this little bit of information bro?

Well..all back ups were called and the staff came running. All the while good ole Marion was shouting through the door, “Say good bye to your little Ruth. You’ll NEVER get your hands on her. N-E-V-E-R.” So NOT the thing you want to hear when you have entrusted an assisted living facility with the semi-care of your MOTHER (think advocacy people). The staff tried everything to get Marion to turn over Ruth and NOTHING worked. Seriously..what could be so drat hard about rescuing an 82-year-old woman from the clutches of a big (4’5) and tough (huge resemblance to DOPEY from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) old lady? Feh. When all else fails..

“911..what is the emergency?”

Happy Daze Staff: We have an 85 yr old woman with dementia holding another Alzheimer’s patient hostage..demanding a car and good (looking) driver, $100 in unmarked—one dollar bills and..(pause) I can’t quite make this out.. says a box of cookies with a Venti Chai tea latte, sub soy, light on the water. How fast can you get here?

Here comes the fuzz..Sirens blaring, light flashing. Lucky that the cop that headed up to the dementia floor was well trained to handle this kind of thing..
“Marion (knock knock) I know you’re in there. Open up’s the police. Marion did you know that kidnapping is an offense punishable by three years in state prison? Marion? Can you hear me?”

“She’s in the bathroom..she’ll be out in just a second.” Came the chirpy voice of my Ruth from inside. “I can pass on that information if you want. Ummm let’s see. Now, who did you say you are?”

“..and are you married officer?”

“..sure I’ll go check to see how she’s doing.”

“..I think she’s asleep in my bathtub.”

Ruth tells me that the officer came in and had to hold Marion while he escorted her away from the bedroom. You could hear Marion shouting all the way down the hall, “You’ll pay for this. I’ll bet you’re one of THEM. Call the police. Blanche. Selma. I’m being kidnapped.” It was really such a thrilling and exciting night.. not one of the twenty-four residents on ROAM wanted to miss nobody moved. Except Ruth..who was ravenous after all that excitement.

My Sandwich Generation it is very important to have an up-to-date phone list taped right next to your seniors phone for any “situations” that might arise. If something should come up..then they know just how to reach you (or your other siblings if feeling so inclined) without hunting through a phone book or trying to push the buttons on her cell..what E-V-E-R. If your elder family are unable to call..there are many devices that can be worn to connect them immediately to staff or medical personnel who are trained to support in a pinch. You can never cover yourself..well enough.

Use protection.


Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 14 years, 9 months ago at 12:34 am.

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HOW was our FOURTH?

Cow Pie DinnerThis is why my kids didn’t want me to take any pictures of them in memory of OUR 4th of July picnic with visiting family. What are those? Well..we went to a very fancy shmancy Golf and Country Club to make granny Marnie (electric scooter girl) happy and this gourmet treat was delivered to the table..GRAIN and MUSHROOM BURGERS..ummmmm mmmmm goooooood. Since we didn’t want Marnie to become agitated over money WASTED..I was forced to find a way to make our “cow pies” vanish without drawing attention or making any of the other diners suspicious.

When Marnie stepped (wheeled) outside to admire the other equally masterful GUSTATORY creations..I worked fast to make sure each plate of dung patties looked like they had been devoured. Employing the old “wrap it in a napkin” trick..I was successful in saving us grief by running back and forth to the ladies room with the excuse that I had enjoyed too much lemonade. The kids being eternally grateful to their clever mother for saving their LIVES— promised me they would put on a theatrical performance of a lifetime by pretending to eat the remainder.. so Granny could enjoy the fact that she had gotten her money’s worth and sleep that night.

At my boys (Alien Dude and Smart Alec) photos (other than the above) were taken to commemorate this day.

Posted 14 years, 9 months ago at 11:55 am.

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