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Model Daughter

My MIL Ru.. sucking up her cheeks like a puffer fishDear Diary,

I’m not going to sit here, looking you in the.. whatever I’m currently looking at you IN and tell you, I DID NOT tell my MIL Ru that I was Cindy Crawford this morning. Ummmm after she couldn’t quite place me when I went to visit up on the ROAM (Random Occasional Accidental Memory) floor. That would be dishonest and a bold faced lie. I figured WTH.. Really? Would it be so bad if I got to choose my own moniker for once? You know.. better MY choice instead of Ru polling every Tom, Dick and Marion to hear who THEY think I am. “Excuse me? Do you know who this is?” Then Marion squints her eyes pretending to SEE, before launching into this whole story about watching me on that TV program about New York and housewives and that I fight with everyone and you have to watch me like a hawk around Bethenny because I’m sure to say SOMETHING derogatory and drag RU into it.

You’re wrong. I’m Cindy Crawford.

I know and now I’m so ashamed OK? It flew out of my mouth. It’s not like I go around telling people with dementia that I’m Cindy Crawford every day. Tell her it’s ME and I promise you, she’d be in your FACE in a heartbeat..

“I don’t THINK so. Myyyyyy DIL would N-E-V-E-R wear such an ugly GAP paisley print in that ATROCIOUS lavenderish color. Besides she’s still on MAUI enjoying her vacation (and getting drunk on pretend Melon Balls).”

“WHO are you?”

Come again. W-H-O? Like for real? Only the world’s hottest super model THAT’S who. I picked, HER.. my lovely forgetful MIL, because it seemed like the obvious.. choice. Pfffft.

Then Ru stops and has to digest this splendid morsel of bull shwank before the very appropriate and well deserved reply,

“You don’t LOOK like a super model?”

I was having NONE of that on MY special day to pick who I wanted to be. Suddenly someone with DEMENTIA is going to pee on my bull? HALLE no. And so I threw my shoulders back and sucked in my cheeks to make myself look (like an exotic PUFFER fish) SVELTE.. while doing a little flippy thing with my hair. That’s when Ru lets out this shriek of recognition..

“OH MY GAWD.. I can’t believe it.”

SQUEEEEEE!!!! Ru knows who I am. She’s BACK bay-beeee. Dementia.. bite me.

“PHIL’S sitting by himself. Get out of my way.. Cindy Brady.”

The weird thing is, Ru has this annoying tendency to snap in and out of dementia.. almost AT WILL. Or PHIL. But I, who have now decided to launch into an informal fashion show by strutting around the room and introducing myself as the face of VOGUE.. could be so easily forgotten.

I could see Ru struggle as she stood in the middle of that dining hall, weighing heavily which piece of news she should attempt to tackle first. The announcement that the fake REAL Phil Donahue look-alike was now totally up for grabs (being that he was on BREAK from Selma) for the next girl in line (her).. Or the coat I was showing (and falsely advertising as Burberry) could be had at 50% off retail price.

Ru headed straight for Mr. Donahue.

My Sandwich Generation— as hard as it is to have your senior forget who you are.. remember (after you’re done freaking OUT), the whole reinventing of yourself can be so liberating. I know one lady Lorna, who had a horrific relationship with her father BEFORE he totally forget who she was and then it was like.. BAM! She shows up one day and he’s introducing her around with, “Have you all met my favorite daughter Betty. She’s always been number one to me.” Imagine how SATISFYING that must have been for Lorna, to now get the opportunity to be the kiss-up OTHER sister. NOW.. SHE gets a turn to have the relationship with her father that she NEVER could have.. BEFORE (that beeotch sister poisoned the well) DEMENTIA. Sigh. Such a happy ending. Remember— Cuz someone has to.. the silver lining.


Copyright © 2009-2010 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized 14 years, 1 month ago at 10:03 pm.


9 Replies

  1. Oh, that felt good. Thanks for cracking me up, yet again! Nice to be Cindy Crawford for a moment, keep working that runway girl!

    A beautiful perspective on the hidden blessings of Dementia in the Lorna/Betty story too.

    Much love!

  2. Adrienne May 13th 2010

    Sweetie.. thank you so much! LOVE hearing from you.. And I’ll check out that other story as well. xxoo

  3. SithSnoopy May 14th 2010

    The more I google “sandwich generation”, the more I realize I’m not alone. Whoa.

    I’m 41. My toddler is turning 2.5 years on June 5th. My Mom is 81, and had a stroke on December 8th, 3 days after my toddler’s 2nd birthday. She is doing much better, but definitely lost some major, crucial abilities. Dad is 87. And my husband is currently in the middle of 20 days of business travel. So, tending to read more about fellow sandwichers while I’m drowning in the mayo. :P

    Mom did the bills, Dad hasn’t done them in 40 years, so that’s my task. Mom isn’t quite up to reading and numbers, or at least not in a completely reliable way, so I also put the medication in her medication organizer. 1 to 3 medications are subject to dosage changes at random moments that Murphy’s Law ensures will never line up nicely, and will require multiple runs out to my folks place to update. And multiple phone calls to the pharmacy and/or doctor to make sure they make adjustments that fit the update. Mom is on at least 10 meds. Dad is on 3, and haven’t gotten a handle on those yet. Really hoping that Dad is taking his meds correctly.

    In spite of the stroke, Mom is actually BETTER at taking her meds out of the medication organizer and taking them at the right time/day, etc., than Dad is at giving the meds to Mom. Dad actually messed up a few times, so he doesn’t get to do that job anymore.

    Dad’s hearing is on the fritz. His hearing aids amplify ALL frequencies, and not just the ones he’s hard of hearing in, so whether he wears them or not, he still has a hard time understanding what people are saying. Mom’s stroke was on the logical side of her brain, so she tries to make judgement calls with the emotional side of her brain. And she’s emotionally extra sensitive due to being older and the stroke, etc.

    Both of them are still “in there”. Both seem frustrated by the tricks their brains are playing on them. Dad doesn’t always realize his brain has duped him. Mom usually does. Dad takes care of Mom during the day and night. It’s hard for him, but it’s mostly the emotional stress from Dad not hearing Mom, and Mom being over-sensitive, that causes the most problems. Mom can move around on her own much better than when she first got out of the rehabilitation place.

    Mom often feels trapped. Dad sometimes gets worn out enough that he takes an unscheduled break, usually just going outside. He can drive, but she can’t. When they have a fight due to her aphasia from the stroke and his hearing making communication impossible, it really wears them both out. And eventually it wears me out, as Mom calls me and vents all over me, usually about how “mean” Dad is to her. I’ve tried to get Mom to do all her venting on my older Sister, who lives too far away to help directly. I figure she has more bandwidth than I do at the moment. But somehow I still end up hearing alot of drama over the phone, or in person.

    Mom can walk in her walker and is moving on to a cane soon. She definitely can’t drive, and reading/writing… yeah. But TV watching, and still being a sharp, intelligent person underneath what the stroke did to her… well, she’s still got that.

    Why am I not over there every day giving them both full time care? I have a job. My husband’s job pays the mortgage. My job pays the utilities, groceries, and daycare for my son. Oh, and there’s that whole being a Mom thing when I’m done with my “day” job. So I make some quick trips to refill her medication organizer and fill in doctor visits, as well as to write down the days/times Mom’s therapists have written down for their next visits. And to pick up their bills, and deal with when the “tv is broken”, etc.

    I’m not doing so well at maintaining a good sense of humor through all of this. And my husband does NOT want either or both of my folks moving in. My Dad can still drive, and lately I’ve asked him to bring himself and Mom (and her pills and pill organizer and appointment planner) over so I can update various things. That’s helped, as I can be catching up on laundry, taking care of my son, giving my son grandparent time, my parents grandchild time, etc.

    At work, I typically have 2 to 4 phone calls I’m supposed to be making for my folks for medical things, and am receiving tons of phone calls from doctors and therapists. And I’m often called while at work by my folks when they need help. It’s gotten really hard to concentrate on work. I feel pulled in too many directions.

    Well, anyway, I’m babbling. Thanks for putting this site up. :)

    Sorry I vented in your comments section. :P

  4. Adrienne May 14th 2010

    Dear Snoopy, I LOVE you. OMG I love your venting. I’m actually thrilled and yes even.. HONORED, to be the one to get to say these words to you. First, FULL freakin mouthful sweetie.. no one’s gonna say otherwise. BUT w-h-o-s-e the person we need to take care of first and foremost? That’s RIGHT! YOU. So.. time to look at ways to bring in “OTHERS” as support to YOU and mom.. and dad. That’s not a SUGGESTION.. that’s an ORDER. Because this situation could be for a VERY long time.. like REALLLLLY long. How about a “phone” meeting with sis to see what the short and long term plan is? This means EVERYTHING.. Mom and dads finances, medical (now and future), housing (assisted living, home, Nursing). The deal is– before you do this conference with sis, you’ll need to inform yourself as to your options. Perhaps budget might allow for a nice “college age” student to help with some tasks. Providing some driving relief here.. some company for mama to “b and m” THERE. And SHE or HE could be like the new little pill sorter. Tasks that might lift some of the strain off your loaded shoulders.

    If funds don’t allow and even if they do.. turn to community, friends, neighbors for support. BUT. And FYI.. this is a very big BUT, you must take care of YOU and your family. Whatever it takes.. mom and dad will have to be integrated into YOUR life so that everyone has quality. Right now.. not so much. Get on it, speak up and research. Be bold! Do what you can and quit with the guilt. Your a dear daughter who cares for her family and it takes some time to get up to speed. Be easy on YOURSELF and let me hear from you again. Big hugs! We’re ALL going to have this sandwich on our plates sooner then we think:) -A

  5. That is wonderful advice from someone who KNOWS the scoop. We can’t possibly take care of Everyone else on our own and still be whole - emotionally or mentally. Something is going to crumble sooner or later (probably sooner).

    It’s nice that you got to be Cindy for a day. I’d like to be Catherine Zeta Jones for a day but my mother (thankfully) is still far too sharp for that!

  6. Adrienne, hilarious as always. Snoopy, you are in my prayers.

  7. Oh my you do have your hands full and you came to the right lady to vent. Adrienne has such great words of wisdom! I volunteer off and on at my local hospice, and we practice a lot of self care because we are dealing with such emotionally draining situations.
    One of the best pieces of advice I was taught in hospice training is that your heart/soul/energy whatever you want to call it; is like a cup of compassion. With each act of service to others, you pour a little out of your cup. The act of service gives back to you a little too. It replenishes your cup, just a little. Problem is, if we pour out too quickly, or to, too many people, our cup will soon run dry.
    An empty cup serves no one. Needless to say, for each time you fill someone else’s with a kindness, service, or deed, take a little time to fill your own. A hot bath, a pedicure, meditation, prayer, a quiet time with a book, excercise. Your cup is precious, care for it well and it will stay quite full and a full cup is always able to fill others.
    One other little thing that helps…one of my favourite mantras was taught to me by my son’s 2nd grade teacher…she was also a breast cancer survivor…it’s simple but boy does it work….

    Breathe In…Breathe Out.

    I hope this helps to fill your cup, just a little.

  8. For SithSnoopy
    I’ve been my Nana’s full time caregiver for the last 4.5 yrs and I’m telling you now: Get help! I’d really try to get them in assisted living if at all possible. With you already having a FT job and a family it will just get harder on you. Taking care of Nana daily is all I’ve done during my time here and it takes it toll for sure. I do like A’s suggestion of hiring someone in college if possible. Do your checking on them. In home caregivers can be expensive and hard to come by and many want to do as little as possible for maximum pay. If you find someone you love find a way to keep them! And learn to be flexible. lol I have family that lives at the other end of town and doesn’t participate so get your sister involved NOW because out of sight, out of mind. And your parents will grow accustom to you helping so will naturally go to you with everything always unless you set new boundaries now.
    VENT VENT VENT as well! In fact start blogging immediately. I wish I had. Not only is it a great relief but also you might like having that record of your time later. Even if it’s just to keep notes for yourself or whatever. It is by FAR the hardest job I’ve ever had, and the most rewarding. But I was lucky in that I didn’t have a husband or any kids and was able to do it. I’m putting Nana in a home in 2 weeks and moving away and on with my life in a couple of months. Feel free to ask any questions. I’d seriously talk with your sis abt talking with them and getting them in asst. living. They could have their own apt but someone would make sure they got their meds and stuff and everyone can sleep well at night. Most likely they will say no at first but with some time they might reconsider. Nana said she would go to the nursing home any time and of course now says she isn’t going but once there she will be fine and like it so make them go see it too. If you think you are stressed now you will really be stressed as the decrease in capacity. It will NOT get easier. Don’t mean to be down but I am being completely no holds barred honest.
    Also start getting any DNR’s and wills and finances and all that stuff in order because it will get more difficult when they can’t remember. Good luck to you. If I can do it, you can do it! It just takes some adjusting. And accepting. And patience. And tolerance. And a hella lot of love :)

  9. Oh there are also daycares at nursing homes and respite services and such but it doesn’t sound like you are at that exact point yet. But when you are get all the help you can. It takes an Army, not just a village! Build your army now!!! (Or you’ll be me: an army of one totally insane girl :) )