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Well Bread

Marnie and Ruth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice to meet you too!


Posted in Uncategorized 10 years, 9 months ago at 10:21 pm.


4 Replies

  1. Sue Richman May 3rd 2009

    I knew my mom first had Alzheimer’s when I came to visit her & she was wearing the arm of her sweater on her leg. She was also holding her Depends as if it were a purse. She looked through her “purse” trying to find money for me. We took her to the hospital & a handsome young Doctor came in to examine her. She then said, “That’s my husband!” God rest her soul!

  2. Adrienne May 3rd 2009

    LOL! Sounds like mom was ahead of her time. Did you know that’s the new look? Some girls on the streets of NYC are even wearing their sweaters like diapers (as “tweeted” by my friend Amy).
    Sounds like your sweet mama had great taste in mine! Wishing you all the best and thank you Sue for sharing and reading!

  3. Adrienne May 6th 2009

    So glad you came by to visit! All the best!


  4. Adrienne May 6th 2009

    Glad you are enjoying! Thank you for the comment!