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VOWS of SILENCE

 Ignorance is bliss

Dear Diary,

I wouldn’t even be having these thoughts about telling my MIL Ruth (dementia) about her brother Dick’s unfortunate passing if Uncle Dick had been a tad more thoughtful about the timing of his demise. I mean really. Who chooses MY wedding anniversary as the day they want to be buried. Ga. I had plans..all k-i-n-d-s of plans. No. This event only comes ONCE a year.. he could have died ANYTIME. I figure the only way to get out of it is to have my MIL write a note. You know..I’ll just casually say, “Hey granny..”

RUTH: WHAT? Will I write a note excusing you from Dick’s funeral cuz it’s your Anniversary and you had OTHER THINGS in mind? As. If. I have OTHER things on MY mind too and I wouldn’t MISS Dick’s funeral. Pathetic. Selfish DIL..YOU are.
On second thought the whole plan might backfire.

You see..There are two schools of thought in telling someone with dementia about emotionally charged events..

1. Do it. This choice will pretty much GUARANTEE she’ll beat the “news” to death by asking a million times in a period of an hour, “Who did you say just died?” and “What are you wearing to the funeral?” Then you will have to hear the sobbing and hysterics..

“Do you know he NEVER let me play net when we played mixed doubles? That’s right. He (sniff) thought my backhand was WEAK (sniff sniff) and he would NEVER let ME hit the bal-l-l-l. Wahhhhhhhh. We were soooo close.”

Then I would get her all calmed down..maybe sipping a Tall Chai Tea Latte (no water..sub soy) and KAPOW..she’d see some random dude, remember to ask me who died and the drama would start all over. Thank you..NO.

Which brings us to option TWO.

2. Don’t do it. I always have the option to say NOTHING and watch as within 48-72 hours of Dick’s buriel..as if picking up on some weird psychic liar vibe Ruth will all of a sudden stray into that way far off place in her Grey matter and emerge with..

“How’s Dick doing?”

ME: Um. Good. Yeah. He’s just as chill as ever.

RUTH: Well. I have an idea (OH! NO! Gawd! NOT an i-d-e-a). We could go over and visit him. Let’s see.. (pauses to recall where Dick lives) Do YOU know where he is?

Feh. Oh. Do. I.

ME (sweating as I’m forced to state some pathetic fabrication): He’s…Uhhhh..been a little UNDER the ground WEATHER these days.

RUTH: Well..that’s too bad. I don’t like to hear THAT.

Uh oh. She DOESN’T like to hear that. Drat. How bout THIS..do you like to hear THIS?

ME: No. It’s OK. He’s working for the Underground.. Big CONFIDENTIAL thing. Nobody know’s where he is. So we’ll have to wait for him to contact us. You OK with that?

RUTH: Well. I guess I am.

I feel that this could work..for a time. It’s not like I’m REALLY lying per say. I’m just mixing up all the words to form a new REALITY.

Back to my problem.. If I go to the funeral how am I to look SMOKIN’ and reverent? Can’t have my husband looking at the same hot mess he see’s EVERY other day of the year..now can I? I have a short little black dress. I could do a fishnet thing..you know high black heels, maybe a scarf for a hint of color. I happen to know that Dick..would TOTALLY appreciate this. He would prefer to have fine looking girls at his memorial. Big breasted hearted.. beautiful women. Because he was all about the heart that Dick. Heart of GOLD.. Yes. GOLDDDDD. With a little (big mother) bling set in the center..Happy Anniversary to me. (wink)

My Sandwich Generation..telling the TRUTH takes on a whole different meaning when dealing with family member with dementia. You’ll be faced with many difficult questions on the subject of truth–  that you may have NEVER dealt with before (some of you have..and I will find OTHER places to judge you). There will be the percentage of truth vs. the amount of Bull Shtick that you’ll be telling to your loved one. Then.. if you DO decide to TELL the truth— do you increase the meds and care level to accommodate the money back if not delighted S-L-I-D-E that comes when the stress of the TRUTH exacerbates the Alzheimer’s? Yup. Truth will set you free. Ha. It’s all a very complex puzzle. The best part? There is no answer. Only YOU will be able to tell..ummm..how much to tell. Or how much NOT to.

I swear it’s the truth. I do.

A

Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 8:46 pm.

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We Got Busted at the Border- Vacation Part 2

SmartAlec showing a part of his heist

Dear Grandma Ru,

How’s it going? I am writing this postcard to you while my mom and dad are in the Canadian CUSTOMS office trying to finagle their way out of being found guilty of aiding and abetting small and innocent children in a rock smuggling operation. It turns out..that those rocks we found— they’re actually GEODE’S and assorted SCHIST. Hee hee hee (snort). No.. That’s not a swear word. It’s a kind of rock we discovered while digging around the (front) of our fancy hotel. Well..we ALSO found some (laying) around the Starbucks parking lot, behind the McDonalds dumpster..ummmm. Oh yeah— in a  koi pond. You should have seen the one AlienDude found in that pond..must have weighed 45 Lbs. it was no easy feat to sneak that slippery little sucker into our duffel bag without getting busted. But..We. Did.

Hiding the contraband

Everything was going along great until the customs guy asked dad, “Did you bring anything back with you?” Dad H-A-D to open his mouth and say, “KNICK KNACKS”. Seriously. What’s a knick knack? Well..That’s JUST what the border guard wanted to know. So then dad says, “Just some rocks.” Say what? JUST some rocks? We had to correct dad RIGHT AWAY.

“Excuse me dad”, we say. “Those aren’t just any kind of random rock..we found PRICELESS TREASURES. Really valuable gems and crystals and..”

The customs guy pokes his head through the back car window where we were sitting and says, “How many rocks would you say you’ve got packed?” My brother and I counted them up in our head and told him our guesstimate was about 150 or so. “PULL OVER.”

Our now impounded vehicle

We got out of our car.. and Mom and dad told us to be cool. Don’t say ANYTHING else that might incriminate us. But then..something caught our eye. It was AMAZING. We felt compelled to hide it under our coat..because it would be so AWESOME to add it to our collection.

Our best find.

We had a really great time in Canada and we hope someday we will be FORGIVEN for taking all of their rocks and be allowed to visit there again. Can you come pick us up? We’re getting tired of waiting.

AlienDude and SmartAlec waiting patiently

Love,

AlienDude and SmartAlec

P.S. We wish you were here..like last time when this happened.

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 9:00 pm.

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What’s HOT. What’s NOT.

Hot hat for Fall..

Dear Diary,

I was sitting with granny Marnie (electric scooter girl) over at Killjoy Senior living..when Marnie happened to REMEMBER (shocking) that 11 year old SmartAlec was wearing the same shorts and camouflage shirt he’d worn for the last three days.. again. Oh come on. You know me better than that. Of COURSE he went against my profuse objections (pflug..hadn’t even noticed). He decided that the peanut butter stains blended in nicely with the existing army pattern..so why bother to change what worked? I can see the reasoning..but Marnie? Not so much.

“When are you going to buy the children their “back to school” clothes? It looks like they’re down to (quick up and down appraisal with gaze falling on CROCS with the band hanging off to one side) NOTHING.”

This is the part where I can either defend or agree. Either way— I am so screwed.

“That’s just what we’re going to do..”

Out of the corner of my eye I’m watching both AlienDude and SmartAlec make a face at me and mouth the words, Club Penguin (the kiddie equivalent to FaceBook) with more desperation then I have ever seen. Ga. They’re more addicted than I thought.

“Next week.”

Big sigh of relief from the peanut gallery.

MARNIE: Well that makes sense.

Huh?

“That way they can see what everyone else is wearing and look for the trends.”

Oh yeah Marnie. That’s it e-x-a-c-t-l-y. I can see my nine year old AlienDude marching up to all his little dude friends asking, “So.. who are you wearing?”

MARNIE: You know I was so glad I waited that week AFTER school started to put my wardrobe together. One year all the girls showed up with dish towels wrapped around their heads like scarves. I had to think fast. So I rushed home and found..

UUUURRRRKKKK. Stop. Right. Here.

I needed to see if I understood what Marnie was telling me. Let me get this straight. The girls were wearing TOWELS on their heads? Heh. I k-n-e-w I’d been born in the wrong century. But really.. TOWELS?

MARNIE: They weren’t exactly towels..more like flour sacks.

OK. Better.

MARNIE: Each girl would cut up a flour sack or a sugar sack into a.. you know..

NO. I. DON’T.

MARNIE: A scarf. Then some would make fringe on the edges, a hem or some kind of writing like mine— that said (pausing to recall) FISHER FLOUR MILLS inc.

Oh. Kind of like having Gucci printed all over..only better.

Just then I notice Marnie staring over my shoulder..and turn to see a guy smiling broadly at Marnie and Marnie..sucking it up. She leans over and whispers..

That’s NED. He’s MY NEIGHBOR. He’s SINGLE.

Wuddya say granny? Not sure they heard you..ACROSS the street.

Ummm. Question. How does a person go from being a real snappy dresser in their youth..to a dude wearing plaid polyester trousers pulled up to his man boobs? Then for the “tough guy on the move with his walker” look.. add a hurl green nylon cardi, thrown over a tee shirt that reads, “Don’t act sexist! My beeotch hates that.” What happens to the judgment.. people? To ALLOW this kind of flagrant disregard for appropriate mens wear dressing to be flaunted up and down the halls of KillJoy is a..a..TRAVESTY. Meh. I guess we should just be applauding the fact that Ned is actually..dressed and stop at that.

No. Age is no excuse for this sloppy, complacent dressing attitude. Ned may be feeling cocky these days knowing that the ratio is something like 52 women to two men. His competition is nothing to swell to look at either. It’s that “guy” attitude of: Why should I bother.  I’m not going anywhere that I’m going to see anyone I know..and if I do..I won’t remember that I know them.. so who cares. Now change the channel BACK to football. Belch.

“So what do you think of him? Any potential?” Marnie slyly asks me after she and Ned have exchanged pleasantries and important information (complete review of the Obituary section of this weeks newspaper.)

Well. I suppose..with some work. Ga. First thing to go would HAVE to be the tee. Doesn’t he have a nice plain wife beater tee lying around..he could wear instead?

According to Marnie (a highly accurate source..if you don’t mind the 20-35% range) Ned was a real dapper dandy. All the girls would throw themselves in his path..screaming “pick me Neddy.. I’ll wear your pin”. He was very popular and soooo handsome. And..did you know—the girls STILL fall all over him?

Sure they do. The women are TRIPPING left and right.. over his walker and SPLAT.. to his Hush Puppies slipper-ed feet.

Marnie has been complaining about her eyes lately. She’s going to pick out some new designer frames that will hold lenses with a 4-inch thickness. Maybe we’ll all go and do that and the SCHOOL shopping at the same time. So let’s talk AFTER you get your new eyeglasses Marnie.. on what’s HOT and what’s NOT for Fall. K?

My Sandwich Generation..you can never become a slacker when it comes to fashion. If your senior loses his or her fashion sense and wears an outfit that SO doesn’t work..feel free to gently dissuade your loved one from that bad fashion faux pas. Sometimes as the aging process progresses..our family may forget what decade they are living in or lose touch with reality and try to wear their heavily beaded chartreuse blouse with a wool dress jacket and velveteen slacks in the August heat. For dinner. It’s not even a black-tie affair. H-e-l-l-o? My MIL Ruth. Of course my MIL has dementia..so she can do anything she darn well pleases. Go through your seniors closet with them and put together comfortable (and washable) choices that will always look fab. You’ll be glad you did.

Hope the towel thing comes back in.

A

Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 11:14 pm.

5 comments

I slept on the dirty ground. Our Vacation Part 1

Because my MIL Ruth (dementia) and granny Marnie (electric scooter girl) were not (unfortunately) INVITED able to attend our family camping trip.. I took these FAB pictures that speak VOLUMES for the kind of wonderful time that we had..without them.

AlienDude and SmartAlec

Oh look..see how WELL “your kids” get along? Shocking.

Never mind the wind chill was about 30 below zero on the deck of the ferry and they were huddled together to avoid hypothermia..we were just so DRAT EXCITED to be going camping in the San Juan Islands. I know there was some concern Marnie.. about how I would be CATCHING the food. You worried needlessly..as there was a Starbucks right down the road from the RANGERS with a minimal wait time.

HunkoMan, SmartAlec and AlienDude (sitting)

Look Ruth.. this could be your new HOUSE BOAT.

The boys heard all the stories about how YOU used to be a skipper on your OWN little waterski boat..remember? Maybe not. In the olden days (when a boat cost..about two weeks worth of boys combined allowance) you used to cruise all over. AlienDude and SmartAlec thought it would be nice for us to make a purchase of OUR OWN. heh. This one was a l-i-t-t-l-e out of our price range.

Our new boat.

This ONE..on the other hand..

I think we found our NEW boat. Yes. I do think we could even ski behind it.. in our FREE time.

SmartAlec finds a rock.

OMG. Surprise. He found a rock.

It’s no surprise that SmartAlec would find THIS priceless piece of obsidian after digging through the entire rockery in the Shwanky Shwank Hotel garden— over a period of two days. No. Don’t be concerned. He most certainly did NOT keep ALL of the rocks he liked. Only 50% of them.

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 5:59 pm.

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HAPPY MEAL

SmartAlec shoving it in..fast.

Dear Diary,

I am sitting here watching Granny Marnie (electric scooter girl).. watching my eldest child SmartAlec— ravage his food. Exciting? Perhaps not for you. But may I go on record as saying that there is nothing more entertaining (sorry Tori and Dean) as witnessing Granny Marnie’s look of sheer HORROR as her 11 yr. old great grandson shoves full salad plate sized PANCAKES into his eager little mouth in ONE bite. I would compare her reaction, to.. one I might expect to see in the random ZOO observer..while visiting the reptile house (on a Sunday afternoon..7/3/06). Oh look. It’s Mr. King Cobra enjoying his afternoon repast of ..some kind of prey he’s now swallowing whole. EEEEEEK..OOOOOHHHH. EHHHHHHH. BLECCCCH. How disgusting. Vile, depressing and yet—d-i-s-t-u-r-b-i-n-g-l-y fascinating. Personally..I ran away at the first sign that Mickey Mouse was something MORE than the play-date I though he was. Marnie this morning—is living THIS moment.. Mimicking, motion-by-motion SmartAlec’s gustatory style:

1. Focuses in on the captured food stuff (flap jack) stabbed by (cheap stainless steel) weapon..

2. Eyes bulging out wide with anticipation and then..

3. O-p-e-n-i-n-g of Mouth real WIIIIDE.

As quick as can be..BAM. IN. IT. GOES. Swallowed in one gulp.

“Repulsive. I have never seen anyone eat like that..ever. Did your mother teach you to eat like that?”

Oh. Yeah. Marnie. I sat my boys down at a very young age and instructed them in the fine art of Cro-Magnon table etiquette. “Hey boys. Don’t make me ask you again to go spit out your tree bark before you squat down on mommy’s nice clean hovel floor. GA. How many times do I have to tell you to USE your fingers? NOT your flint tool when you shove that (some species of dinosaur) into your mouth. Can you chew HIM up really well sweetie before you take another bite?

You know I should have been alerted to this tendency in SmartAlec as a young lad. When it came time to “OPEN” for a spoonful of rice cereal mixed with applesauce and sweet potato (the average 10 month old fare of champions) SmartAlec would put his little baby hands around mine and shove the whole mess into his face. Marnie doesn’t think this is cute at all.

“I can’t STAND it. SmartAlec—take that out of your MOUTH now.”

SmartAlec is looking at me all.. “do I do as she says mom?” with his cheeks bulging out to the max.. unable to utter a sound for fear of spewing pancakes all hither thither. I caught out of the corner of my eye.. his little brother AlienDude trying to inconspicuously scoot HIS chair over to the table across the way. Might it be weird for you to sit with STRANGERS dear? Always a shy child..I was impressed by AlienDudes apparent boldness in desperate times. While— In a universe far far away.. Thinking his way out of tough dilemmas is one of SmartAlec’s strong points. I watch him chew and swallow..little by little with his napkin shielding him from the eagle eyes of granny..who NOW has a new mission in life. What’s this? He’s pretending to CRY and dab at his eyes to elicit sympathy from.. Miss. Manners on crack. Ha. Don’t count on it.

“How can I E-V-E-R take you out again..eating like THAT. Why don’t I let you go sit outside and be all “nom nom” with your “eats” sitting in a barn with other ANIMALS for company.”(Not an exact quote..but you get the gist) I’m praying here that SmartAlec doesn’t finish too quickly what’s in his mouth knowing there’s NOTHING he would like MORE..and I don’t want Marnie to get her Granny panties in a (bigger) bunch then they ALREADY are. So. Say NOTHING child of mine if you know what’s good for you.

ME: Marnie. OMG. Look over there. Isn’t that Bertha Groonley with that Frank guy? I thought Irma was going out with him. What happened?

Am I the mother of all awesomeness or what? I know Marnie has a weakness for all things higher learning. She is definitely going to want to own this little piece of somethin’ for the dinnertime conversation du jour.

MARNIE (waving to Bertha to come over to our table): Well.. How are you doing d-e-a-r? I’d love to introduce you to my kids..

BERTHA (looking straight at SmartAlec): What a nice young man you have here Marnie. I have an adorable great granddaughter who would L-O-V-E to play with him.

Bwahahaha. SmartAlec’s eyes are tearing up..again and he is trying to swallow really fast now..without choking and making some sort of guttural sound. If I had felt that it was really important to UNDERSTAND him, I might have sidled up..listened really closely..and deciphered an emphatic..NOOOOOOOO. But. I was enjoying this MUCH. TOO. MUCH. With pancake shoved in there it came out..MEEEEEH.

Marnie and Bertha looked delighted..for a split second. Then the attention shifted once more to the table in the corner. Stupid move over at the Johnstone party of five table, AlienDude. Probably shouldn’t have guffawed as loudly as you did and brought full attention YOUR way.

Every time we go out for a meal now with Marnie..SmartAlec knows that in order to survive the scrutiny of granny he will need to perform his dining ritual in true British royalty form. He will cut up his food using something other then his TEETH and he will n-e-v-e-r have so much in his mouth at any given time.. that he won’t be CLEARLY understood when he says NO to a playdate..with people driving pink bikes.

I’ll take mine to go.

A

Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 2:33 pm.

4 comments

Car Wreck

MIL Ru checking out her ride.

Dear Diary,

People (My MIL Ruth) are asking for their car keys back so they can drive again. I had to go through the a-g-o-n-y the first time when she was TOLD (not by ME.. are you kidding?) that she either had to “hand um over” or foot the tab for the state patrol to bring on extra off duty police officers. The plan was the cops fuzz would RIDE 2 miles in front of her— specifically to clear a path as she gingerly traveled down Interstate- 5 in an almost forward motion. I don’t have any idea why NOW..she’s seeking reinstatement Oh. Like WHAT Ruth? You’ve gotten over dementia and feel your ready to try your hand at something you were never much good at in the first place. Is it that SUDDENLY you’re feeling the need for speed and the desire for freedom? How about you settle for borrowing Harry’s wheelchair and I’ll push you really fast around the DOWNSTAIRS lobby. If THAT’S not freedom then I don’t know WHAT. IS.

This is how I think granny got it in her head that it was time to drive herself for a change. I was a little bit overly enthusiastic at her ability to read a construction sign with ease and I drove her past a place of high quality scenery. Yup. That did it. Here we were cruising at 15 mph through a work zone and Ruth was checking out all the hot workman dudes (who she says, kept waving at HER). When one of the guys in his orange vest— flung himself in front of our oncoming vehicle and pointed at a big orange sign with humongous letters..

RUTH: Oh. I think he wants me to read that to him (giggle giggle). Roll down the window. Let’s see..(straining to read tiny print)

Metal. Plate. In. Head. Oh dear GAWD! He’s got a metal plate in his head. Should we give him money?

While Ruth was close regarding the text on the sign..no cigar.

ME: AHEAD. It says a-h-e-a-d.

RUTH: It was an honest mistake. Anyone could have made it. Bet THELMA wouldn’t have caught that detail. Is it MY turn to drive?

QUIZ: HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR SENIOR IS READY TO DRIVE..AGAIN.

(Please hand your senior a #2 pencil and allow them 20 min. per question)

VISION

1. When walking down the halls of Happy Daze Assisted Living..ROAM (Alzheimer’s) floor, your MIL will observe consistently:

A. Milton’s walker pushed out in front of his outstretched legs

B. The wall in front of the dining area (or any wall for that matter).

C. Her bedroom door with someone’s name marked in big block letters..R.U.T.H

D. All of the above

E. Are you kidding? No freakin’ way on any of the above.

2. Your (my) MIL can see and recognize objects in the range of:

A. Three to Five feet.

B. One to Two feet.

C. Six inches

D. Nose to nose with spit hitting your face when conversing.. asking “is that YOU in there Adrienne?”

(Potty Break. Pencils D-O-W-N)

HEARING

3. When the hearing aid is turned up to HIGH..your senior can differentiate between a cell phone ring tone and a real Police Siren. T or F

REACTIONS

4. In case a Police vehicle is tailing your senior (for not stopping at a “red” because they “forgot”)..your elder family member would take the following steps:

A. Step on the gas so as to try and “help” the officer catch the crook up ahead. After all.. it is her civic duty.

B. Pull over fast (now we’re talking). To avoid being followed by some fool playing “loud and annoying noise” on their radio (maybe NOT).

C. Slam on the brakes..because they “can’t remember” WHAT they are supposed to do.

FLEXABILITY

5. Granny can get in and out of her vehicle correctly without:

A. Smacking her head on the door frame thus messing up her hair-do.

B. Asking for assistance as to “what foot goes into the car first.”

C. Asking “now what do I do?” upon entering.

D. Getting in the BACK seat.

E. Demanding why she needs to wear a seat belt. Refusing to wear seatbelt the “right” way. Prefers the shoulder strap be placed UNDER the armpit for less wrinkling.

So how’d they do? I’d like to ask that you check their answers with the correction key listed below b-e-f-o-r-e making any hasty decisions.

1. B and D- Your senior MUST be able to see a wall so they don’t crash into the divider on the highway when they drive at night..on the streets of.. PARIS?

2. C- Granny must be able to see 6 inches in front of her. She’s NOT going to remember where she’s going ANYWAY so any further is a waist. Plus. She’s only going to be driving 15 mph so she can pull up nice and cozy like to an object and do a hard assessment before running it over.

3. This was a trick question. If your senior is driving with a cell phone in her car and it rings (with a siren ringtone.. because it’s her DIL) she had BETTER NOT even think to pick it up. Ga. If she gets a TEXT and she secretly reads it at the light..I will SO turn her ASS in. Got it Ru? NO texting while driving.

4. C- If an officer of the Law is following so CLOSELY behind.. that by you stepping on the breaks he is forced to rear-end you. Well, then I’d say.. you just get out of the car all bent over, shuffling around dazed and confused (as you usually are) and he will feel like crap. Then– he’ll have to pay all kinds of settlement money. If you don’t..speak.

5. A- This one was sooooo easy. Granny HAS to be able to get in a car without messing the hair. If the hair is no good.. Granny might as well just turn around and head back up stairs. If the hair cost $45 at She She Poo Salon and Spa and it gets taken down by a doorframe..hysteria of DIL may ensue along with total devastation by granny. Not a pretty site.

How did your seniors do My Sandwich Generation colleagues? Remember..taking away the keys the FIRST time is traumatic enough.. if you’re FORCED to go that route. This symbol of freedom is being yanked away from our elder family member and this could cause some serious mental health issues. I’m not SAYING that Ruth’s dementia was caused by taking the keys away..per say (Please note..there is no science to back this up.). I’m just sayin..15 years ago– she was a HECK of a lot more “with it” then she is today. Still. I’m SO. NOT. Evahhhh going to give them back. Did I mention the final test assessment? YOU my dear MSG friend will need to sit in the back seat..with duck tape over your mouth and allow them to drive you to the mall. Good luck with that.

Gotta GO. It’s green.
A

Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 10:49 pm.

6 comments

SLEEPING AROUND

Sleeping at 10:30 am after pulling an all nighter.

Dear Diary,

Something is not quite right over at Happy Daze Assisted Living. It’s just to drat silent and I’m starting to be unnerved by the strains of NOTHING filling the air up on ROAM (dementia floor). I walk through the faux bookcase and not ONE person is perched behind the door for me to smash. There is ALWAYS an escapee waiting patiently for some unsuspecting UPS dude to walk onto ROAM.. clueless that it’s an Alzheimer’s floor. Ga. They are so polite in holding the door open for any con (Shirley..But I’m not pointing fingers) to politely nod and pretend to be fully functioning. Then hastily dash out towards the elevators and try to ascertain which button is down.

Not. Today.

There is no one hunched over in the hallway pointing at my butt and shouting “maybe you should do our exercise class.” Or people sitting on the bench across from the fish tank asking every passer by, “When’s the bus ride? Are YOU taking us on a bus ride?” Wait. What’s this? It looks like one of the mean girls JoJo and her pissy posse..Marie, Marie L. and Greta 2.. all chillin’ around the service elevator door.

“Hi girls. Sup?”

JOJO: Hi sweetheart (leaning in for a kiss). Well..are you looking for your MIL? She’s on the couch sound asleep.

ME: (trying my best to avoid kiss because of overwhelming Adidas Fruity Rhythm perfume application that will adhere to me like wax to an eyebrow hair.) It’s 10:30.. what were you doing all night?

I swear I caught Marie give Marie L. a look like.. “Shut up and say N-O-T-H-I-N-G. She’ll squeal and we’ll be forced to beat her up with our walkers.”

GRETA 2: We heard through the grapevine..that your Ruth was up all night giving guided tours of other residents’ bedrooms.

ME: Was it by appointment or was she just going in un-announced?

JOJO: You know I’m not allowed to answer that. It breaks the code. But, if you want to text me..

ME: Forget the texting Jo. Let’s go primitive and I’ll CALL you from Ruth’s room. Will you spill then?

I went over to Ruth’s room to call up Jo and the line was busy. No doubt the whole FLOOR was in on a conference call. Time to go direct.

Usually at this time of the morning there is an exciting stretching class going on. Ruth loves the class because they always serve some nice refreshments..muffins, cinnamon rolls or some other such nourishing fare to fuel a body that is burning through fat storages like nobody’s business. One hand holding a Maple bar.. the other doing wrist circles. Noooo WONDER my MIL’s last season knit pants are now being used as compression hose. This morning I do not hear the all too familiar strains of Frank Sinatra singing “Luck be a lady” and I sure as heck DON’T hear the workout CD I put together..which is SO much better. Really. If you want to get the old heart rate up may I suggest Madonna, Lady Gaga, LL Cool J—Hearing THAT..I can almost forget where I am (like the rest of them).

As I rounded the corner into the dining room..I found myself gazing into the eyes of no less then twenty-two residents doing..ABSOLUTLY NOTHING. Yup. You heard correctly. Sitting in chairs all set up in a semi-circle..completely engrossed in just one thing. The couch. Now..I can ask you.. “What’s so interesting about a couch?” But, I won’t because..duh. This is a dementia floor and this is what’s FUN.. looking at a piece of furniture. Even more fun when my MIL Ruth is snoring on it. Plus, right now the most fascinating thing is to watch Ruth shout out from the couch in her sleep, “I don’t care that I already had breakfast. I don’t remember it. I want another.” Sorry folks..time to wake up your pastime.

“Don’t wake her up..we want to see what happens next.”

John..may I suggest a game of cards with Faye? She has NO ONE to cheat out of lunchtime Jell-O delight. Run along now.

“Ru..rise and shine. Time to wake up. You don’t want to miss all the excitement do you?”

RUTH (opening eyes and looking MORE confused): Oh hi there. What are YOU doing here so late? Excitement? Like what?

ME: Well..ummm.

I notice that all the “audience” is leaning forward in their wheel chairs trying to make out the conversation without being completely obvious about it. Like Greta 1. Who just slyly cranked up her hearing aid so she wouldn’t miss a word.

ME: Don’t you have a Happy Hands class or story time or SOMETHING this morning?

Just then I hear Janet shout at Faye..

“Would you hold down that racket? I missed the last part..”

ME: For those of you that were talking to your NEIGHBOR and didn’t h-e-a-r me..

RUTH: Ugh. I had SUCH a night last night. I remember that I was wiped out from the bus ride and I walked into my room to jump into bed. And you’ll never guess who was in there already. Lucy.

AUDIENCE: (collectively) Gasp.

RUTH: That’s right. She was in my nice 500 thread count, pima cotton sheets— drooling all over my nice foam pillow. You know the one?

ME: (nothing to say..just nodding..because I know the pillow from the 25 years of use.)

RUTH: I don’t know HOW she got in there and she had me all confused because I wasn’t even sure that WAS my room. Then I had to go find my real room or another one because I was beat.

LOUD NOISE IN BACKROUND

AUDIENCE (in unison): Pipe down Faye.

RUTH: I wondered around the streets (hall) for awhile until I got to Selma’s room. I wanted to see if she had any room for me in her bed.

ALBERT: That wasn’t SELMAS room.

RUTH: No. I guess not. At this point we were all up..so why not go take a stroll in the court yard? I organized a walking group.

ME: Did you go out?

RUTH: No..I don’t think so. Where would I go?

ME: On a walk.

RUTH: Oh. Yeah. (Long pause) How did you know I went for a walk. Jo? We have a code. Well..anyway, I got very nervous because I noticed I was being followed. It’s scary what goes on around here at night..

I glanced up to see one half of my attentive audience passed out in their seats. The other half were turned to witness John getting his bootie kicked by Faye who was screaming, “I win. I win. Loser. No Jell-O for YOU.” Looking at Ruth..I knew it was nap time. Mine.

My Sandwich Generation— one never knows with whom one will be sleeping with.. on any given night over at your OWN local Happy Daze Assisted facility. You can try to mark your seniors door area with all sorts of colorful memorabilia (bows, tennis balls, pictures of me, NORDSTORM charge cards) but please don’t be surprised if a “guest” shows up for a bit of a nap in the wrong bed. Prepare yourself and your senior for the unforeseen. Screaming loudly only has a tendency to wake up the neighbors and make matters worse. And I won’t do it again.

Sweet dreams.

A

Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 11:21 pm.

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A Peachy Life

Peaches and Vodka

Dear Diary,

I am sitting here with my granny Marnie (electric scooter girl) in her apartment over at KillJoy Senior Living: if it’s not already done—we’ll do it to you.. reflecting on the amazingly full life of Papa G. who passed away yesterday. Before I get into the details of our conversation..I need to give you an idea of this mans greatness. Just writing this part chokes me up to the point that I may need to borrow one of those used snotty tissues Marnie is now pulling out of her bra to blow her nose. While watching her do this is a little unsettling—I have promised myself that just for TODAY I will totally hold my tongue and say N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

Papa G. was a man that all women adored and the men.. well, they just promised their wives they would try “really really hard” to be just like him. Possessing qualities that were incredibly rare for his gender.. an impeccably maintained meticulous closet, organizational skills were “other worldly” and the uncanny ability to marry a bold knit pullover with a Brooks Brothers washed oxford candy stripe sport shirt, a basic tan slack and finish with Ferragamo’s Laguna loafer.. for a look that rocked the house. Every old dude over EIGHTY was sporting the same look within days. I wouldn’t of even THOUGHT to pick up the teal in the cable knit and pare it with pink. But Papa G… he wasn’t afraid to make statements. No sir. Poly blend was for sissies.. he was a cashmere man through and through.

“Marnie..how about a little fresh fruit to perk you up?” I yell. My head’s stuck inside the dark depths of the refrigerator searching for something of nutritional value that will also help granny with some..uh hum.. regularity issues. I had made a nice cooked fruit dish earlier..added all kinds of high fiber goodies. Marnie inhaled it. In hind sight I should have put one bag less of pitted prunes in there and added a..WARNING label. Ga. Almost killed us all off. I pull out a heaping container of cut up peaches from the back and generously scoop them into two bowls for Marnie and I. We dig in and resume our chat about the kind of husband Papa G. was.

“Do you know that in all the years we were married..we never ONCE had an argument?”

Being that I’m not stuppppid. I will not do anything but agree with this comment. Even though..HOLY COW..I could tell you about some “discussions” in which Marnies reckless electric scooter driving habits caused plaster to fall from the walls in chunks and Papa G. to usher some sweet words of reassurance:

“MARNIE..geez-uz. What the HALLLE are you trying to do? Demolish the house? Can’t you steer that thing without taking out a door? How hard can THAT be?”

I’m beginning to think that the same memory loss mechanic that naturally occurs after labor..also happens after a death. We forget all the pain that we’ve endured and just remember the joy. All of the wonderful trips to far away lands like.. Alaska and.. Cincinnati. The amazing parties, the delish food..

I’m shoving the peaches into my mouth..like a woman who hasn’t eaten in..at least the last couple of hours. Can I help it that food during stressful times needs to be given in a steady stream to avoid catastrophic incident. Marnie also is enjoying seconds on the peaches. They were positively addictive and with each bite we felt a little bit more joyous..the grief was actually being lifted off of our shoulders by the MAGIC peaches. We continue talking on and on. I am POSITIVE that the first thing Papa G. will do upon his arrival and check-in at the pearly gates.. is first pick up his wings.. then head out to 7th Heaven Golf and Country club and set up a rematch with Grandpa Max. Papa G. will kick his HALO to the curb. No. Doubt.

Marnie and I are getting a teensy tiny bit giggly. More PEACHES Marnie. Burp. Tee hee hee. Burp.

“Where did these come from anyway? They’re like so (hiccup) AMAZING.”

MARNIE: Ohhhhhh. Did you find these in a BOWL in the back?

ME: Yessssssss.

MARNIE: Lara brought those over. They’re called Vodka peaches. (pause) I can’t remember WHAT she put in them..

Marnie and I are feeling only a little pain at the moment and lots of bliss. We are celebrating ninety-six years of a life well lived. We’re going to miss the old guy. Because G. rarely took a day off from work.. he really does deserve a break and a few holes of heavenly golf after a life so packed and juicy sweet. Dear papa G.—
P.I.P…

Hiccup

ummm. R.I.P

A

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 10:20 pm.

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The Diva and the Wench

My Bar Wench Elizabethan CorsetDear Diary,

Some of us were blessed at birth..practically straight out of the womb.. with an exceptionally high level of grace, poise and also.. a staggering knowledge of social decorum. If there was ever a tiny child that DIDN’T mess her hair, stain her pristine whites with any kind of smeared snack food or let out ANY kind of bodily “noise” that was not considered ladylike it was my MIL Ruth. I am absolutely POSITIVE that when her mom went to burp her as an infant.. Ruth did one of these little..uuhhhh hummmm and just cleared her throat and put her little baby fist in her mouth. Ahhhh. Cute. Feh. Dementia has not changed her in the slightest.. leaving me to look like a pathetic inept bar wench to Ruth’s Cinderella whenever we’re seen together. Which is pretty much every day. So NOW you can understand why my self-esteem is completely in the toilet. Not there is ANYTHING wrong with bar wenching.. the Elizabethan corset is so adorable. I saw one that Dolce did last season—OMG. Fab. Just add the Calvin peasant skirt. H-e-l-l-o? Still.

I have had much opportunity to study my MIL and her refined ways over the years and have taken copious notes so that I may posses an intellectual working knowledge of what it takes to pull off the “haute socialite..I am SO the diva and a queen” ways.

Wear pearls at all times

This is a non-negotiable must do for any girl who wants to be stunning and be taken seriously..whether you live at Happy Daze Assisted Livings ROAM floor (Alzheimer’s) or not. There is some creative freedom in your choice of pearl color..Ruth prefers her strand to be long, plastic and in the beige and pink tones. This way..they GO with all your beige poly/rayon stretch pants,  cotton blouses and also— doggie and lips printed nighties. Oh. What? Were you thinking that you were to be able to REMOVE them when you sleep? Pflug. Sorry. You’re going to be sleeping in those babies. Let the pearls become one with you..they will never leave your person. Except maybe when you get your SHOWER assist. Then..and only THEN may they be removed for a short spell to avoid the paint from peeling of the pearl. It’s a common problem.

Make conversation with ALL of the little people

It will be very important to acquire the skill of polite conversation with any Tom, Dick and Edna whom you may encounter during the course of the day. Say goodbye to any inhibitions, fears and “we don’t talk to strangers” rules that have been put in place for your protection (by your overly cautious..some may say PARANOID, DIL). Just go on and walk over to any gentleman (sitting at a stop light holding a sign) and ask him how his day is and what he’s “been up to?” Or.. if he’s “HAD any business?” I’m sure you’ll raise his spirits and his hopes as he gazes at your fine accessories and flashing charismatic smile while you listen to his story as if you had known him for years..and used to entertain him and his wife “on the boat”.

Never leave your room without lipstick

I have never seen my MIL without her lips on. Wait. Yes. Maybe I have once..but those were SPECIAL circumstances because she was going into surgery to get her appendix out and she only had enough time to get her UPPER lip done before the pain overcame her and the ambulance driver rushed her so badly that she had to do the “press together” without full color saturation. Without having dementia I’m sure Ruth would relive this terrible day over and over. Remember this..if you forget all else—The color that is chosen should never be anything to bright (tangerine neon orange does NOT compliment your age and liver spots) or dark..which shouts out TRAMP and FlOOZY.. Loudly. This is a clear message people— to STAY farrrrrrr AWAY from MAC Cyber no matter how much you love the intense blackish-purple color and satin texture. The refined and classy women.. that you and I wish to be like.. choose soft and polished shades of frosty mid-tone pink like the Limited edition Hello Kitty Lipstick by MAC in Strayin..Ruths fave.

Sit with the right people and show restraint at mealtimes

Ruth n-e-v-a-h just sits at any table with random old CROAM-IES (cronies up on floor ROAM). What she WILL do.. is make the rounds to see how everyone is doing and take the time to introduce herself to all the “new and interesting” people she only has just recently become acquainted (three years ago). When rounds are complete.. is it acceptable to scour the joint for the most prestigious table to sit at and do so? Oh yeah. How do you no which table is the “right” table? Easy. You must find a table where all your friends are sitting UPRIGHT. None of this, “I didn’t get my morning nap.. so I’ll just catch a few winks before my cream of chicken soup comes.”..and drool all over my fake china place setting. Gro-tt-ie. Your meal companions should be great conversationalist— lending itself to stimulating and thought provoking dialogue..

Lady in green and brown plaid sweater: I heard Thelma’s son got into medical school.

Ruth: Reeeeeally? How old of a boy is he?

Dude in pants hoisted up to his neck with suspenders: Hey. THELMA. How old is your kid?

Thelma: Who me? My name’s NOT Thelma.. it’s SELMA.

Ruth: Thelma?

Thelma: Noooooo. S-E-L-M-A.

Ruth: Ohhhhhh. Selma.

Thelma Selma: What?

Ruth: uh. heh heh heh. I forgot what we were saying.

Once the food does arrive..you mustn’t think that’s your cue to dive in. A well bred woman waits for..for someone ELSE to start eating before she remembers begins to enjoy her own meal. I have a really challenging time with this as I do so ENJOY inhaling whatever is placed before me..and then helping myself to my neighbor’s plate unabashedly. Ruth does the opposite. She eats in small little bites..always chewing well the tiny bits of mystery meat the staff have so helpfully cut for her. Then using her napkin to dab at the corners of her mouth.. she keeps her face clean of any residual morsels that could adhere by accident. While on the other side of the table..in a universe far, far, away, her DIL..ME..is shoving the MONGO roll and butter (450 calories) in her mouth while hiding her face behind her napkin and dropping crumbs down the front of inside of her shirt. You can’t take me anywhere.

Dear elegant people of My Sandwich generation, some deep inborn qualities stay with us forever..even where dementia is concerned. If your senior has always been brilliant with the social graces then chances are you’ve got a Queen (or king) for life. Maybe a queen who forgets to put her slippers on the correct feet or pairs her Powder Blue cotton pants with a red cashmere sweater vest..but the royal tendencies shine through in all there glory. As for Me? There is nothing to be ashamed of sitting at the bar wench table and belching loudly because let’s face it..we can’t ALL be DIVAS.

Please excuse me..I’m done.

A

Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 11:43 pm.

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Therapy Couch

Granny Ruth on the couchDear Diary,

There is something definitely UP this week.. over at Happy Daze Assisted Living. Every time I go in to see my MIL Ruth on the dementia floor (or floor ROAM as I so affectionately call it) I find myself suddenly thrust into the position of therapist to whomever has an issue or a gripe to get off their chest or needs counseling. I’m not sure why all of a sudden I look like a person who has any great wisdom or knowledge to share. Could it be the sunglasses? Hmmmm. Maybe THAT’S what makes me look as if I have a clue to the mysteries of life. Today the first person to jump in line and pull me aside.. posed an agonizing question to me that really rocked my world because lets face it.. what do I know about dinner seating arrangement thievery.. SELMA?

You should have seen poor Selmas face. Positively desperate. I couldn’t just turn her away and tell her that I’m not qualified to dish out advice. She was depending on me to guide her in a healthy direction. To fix a problem that she saw no answer to. So what did I do? I took Selma into my office (the bench in the hallway across from the fish tank) and sat down. In something WET.

“EWWWWWWW Ga. NOT a-g-a-i-n. Who PEE’D on the cushion?”

I don’t get why I can’t come into my office.. for ONE stinkin’ time and have a DRY place to sit? It’s like they wait for me to walk through the faux bookcase, key padded door and someone yells, “Quick. Here she comes.. Ruth’s DIL. Who has to go really badly?”

SELMA: Can you just deal with it? We’ve got bigger problems than your wet KAZOO. Now you see..we have these.. places. I always sit by Greta, Myrtle, Shirley and Glen. Everybody knows this and…

ME: (fakey soothing tone) Yes..I understand JUST. HOW. YOU. FEEL. (moving head up and down). I was at Starbucks once and I have this drink— that is MY special drink and then I heard someone ELSE order it..OMG I couldn’t believe..

SELMA (interrupting): Excuse me. But, I don’t SEE how THAT has anything to do with MY situation.

I glanced up in the middle of all my affirmative nodding to notice a line starting to form starting about a foot away and curving around the corner into the dining room area. If I didn’t think of a way to speed this session up..I might NEVER get to Ruth’s facial hairs, which by the way.. I had been promising to pluck for the last TWO weeks. I wouldn’t want HER to develop some weird complex because she had a thatch of two-inch hairs sprouting out of her chin that could probably be BRAIDED.

Next up in line I see..is Blanche. Fab. I’m guessing I could do her in three..maybe four minutes tops. It’s either going to be missing car key problems or inability to remember the code on the keypad lock. Next in line pushing..Jon (in his wheelchair) out of HER way and into Herman’s ROOM is FAYE. This may take a little longer..I’ll be dealing with hostility and defiance issues. “Nobody around here plays POKER by the rules. They all cheat..and I want YOU to pay me my winnings. Plus..interest.” Yup. That’s always fun. Woo Hoo. I LOVE it when she punches me. Yeah. Just the normal who’s who down the line..but wait. I see a face that I don’t recognize.

“Selma. I hope I’ve helped you work through your little issue but I would like a follow up appointment..maybe a week from today? Go ahead and check in with my secretary Ruth..she’ll book you for my next available.”

SELMA: I hope I don’t have to PAY you for that?

ME:(clearing throat) No..don’t be silly. That box of SEES Chocolates in your room will be payment enough. You don’t eat nuts and chews anyway.

Selma gets up and I walked over to the lady who looked very upset to the point of tears. This didn’t look good.

“Are you OK?” I ask. Checking out the guy she’s holding hands with. I K-N-O-W this dude..he’s Ruth’s boyfriend. Nothing really serious yet.. because they’re mostly stuck in the early courtship stage. Remember those first few dates with that someone special? You ask their name, you hold hands, you gaze into each others eyes and memorize every detail of their face. Then you ask their name and question where you know them from because they look.. familiar. By brilliant deduction I realize that I am now staring into the eyes of the distraught WIFE of boytoy boyfriend. Accckkkkkkk.

I pull the two aside into the quiet of the living room area..blowing off Faye’s protests of “It’s no fair. They have to wait their turn in line like EVERYONE else.” and JoJo’s obvious positioning of herself near the three of us.. so she could eavesdrop on the whole conversation and use it later to shake up the monotonous dinner conversation.

The wife asks me my name and thinking nothing of it I tell her. What’s it to me? It’s not like I did anything wrong. Ummmm. Not a warm hello did I get.

“YOUR MIL is a terrible woman. She’s stealing my husband Gart away. How could you let her do this?”

Let’s take a look at this question..break it down into a few parts..before I go any further in my counseling services.

1. Myth: MIL is a terrible woman. FACT: MIL was here FIRST and YOUR Gart smiled at HER. If that isn’t instigating I don’t know WHAT is.

2. Myth: Husband stealer. FACT: Pfeh. Ruth couldn’t pick Gart out in a line up. In fact..she has to ask ME which one he is. I’ve NEVER seen her steal anything.. except maybe a few packs of tea from the “Free cookies and fruit” room downstairs. His heart belongs to YOU darling..his wife. Ruth’s just a really cool girl, who wears amazing clothes and happens to hang on every word your hubby says because she can’t hear well and also because HE takes the time to TALK to her. When you’re on a dementia floor..nobody takes the time to give anyone one on to one time.

3. Myth: I have say in what she does regarding her PERSONAL life. FACT: Not only has she not asked permission from ME to date YOUR husband..she has told me VERY little about him. All I know is that he likes chocolate pudding, he dresses well and he always waits for her in the hall when she’s out getting her hair done. For hours. Sitting. Patiently. Phew. Too much information Ruth.

I wiped tears, I hugged, I acknowledged..what more could I do? In the end I had to re-brake the news to the poor wife that her husband had DEMENTIA. Although she was having a hard time processing this..the writing was on the walls. Really.. do you know very many people who eat soup with a knife? I didn’t think so. Just as I started to calm her down we had a setback..

“Excuse me? What are we supposed to be doing right now? OHHHHHH. Look. It’s MY friend?”

Ruth has spotted my little therapy group and has come over to help us over the ROUGH patches and Garts wife is shrieking “SEE..see what I mean? She won’t leave him A-L-O-N-E.” Oh great. Where was I? “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do..” I look up and Garts wife is leaning in..listening very carefully to my next words of profound widom. “I’m going to..

yessssssss?

“..take a couple of these (pulling out my Motrin caplets) and I’ll call you in the morning.” This session is O-V-E-R.

Next?

A

Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted 7 years, 11 months ago at 12:17 am.

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