Tuesday, August 25, 2009

She'll Be Just Fine...

My mother recently moved back to her home after a brief stint as an inmate of an assisted living facility. She tolerated it at first due to a painful habit of mistaking morning as night and from jumping to the floor without a net.

"Everybody is old or nuts," she said. "And the food is crap."

The Mimster was right on all three accounts. Sharp, I tell you, sharp. You can't fool an old fooler. She says she'll be just fine now that she is back at home.

Anyway, she now has a very sweet dog for company who could possibly apply for canine Social Security next week. Two peas in a pod. But, they feed on each other's bad hearing and paranoia; Mom calls 911 in the middle of the night just sure someone has a key to her house. She hears keys rattling at the front door lock and Micah barked!

More likely, Micah barked because skinny old ladies' feet hurt when they crunch down on your sleeping unsuspecting arthritic ass. I don't have a good explanation for the rattling keys, but Halloween stuff is already out at Wal-mart. Nevermind her front glass storm door has a broken latch that allows the cheap metal frame to pop and shimmy a bit in the wind. Besides, she has an alarm system that gets set every night. Nevermind important meds or paying bills, she never forgets to set that alarm at night. Okay, that's one good habit.

We took her to dinner on Sunday evening after replacing her three year old "like new" car battery that has slumbered under the hood of a 2000 Buick in the garage for nearly two years. We drove the Buick to the catfish place Mom requested to see how it ran. Later she called us at home...."Hey, ya'll forgot to give me my car keys back". I checked with Kman, and my purse. No extra keys. She called again and left a voice message on my cell phone: "Those keys YOU forgot to give back to me have my house and garage key on the ring." Accusation hangs heavy in her words.

I returned her call and emphatically told her, "No, we don't have your keys! I'll come over and help you look for them." Another 20 minutes pass, my cell phone rings. "Nevermind, the keys are NOW on the mantle".

Yeah, like I teleported the damn things just to confuse her.

I was hoping we could put off the driving issue, but nooooo. She went around the block late yesterday afternoon to "charge up" the alternator (uh huh) and kept circling it for a couple of rounds. Didn't recognize the corner house - someone went and painted it brown while she was incarcerated and didn't tell her. No white house at the corner, then, hey, not my street! And, she says she'll be just fine now that she is back at home.

When she was in the assisted living pokey, she ate a lot of fruit; often ordered the fruit and cottage cheese plate instead of whatever mystery meat was on the menu. I was constantly on the alert to keep her supplied in grapes, watermelon, and peaches. Most telephone calls were to request more fruit.

This evening after work, I dropped in the local grocer's to get her requested gallon of milk. I also got some waffle syrup to replace the bottle of sugar-free syrup she had in her pantry. It had been there so long, maple tree roots were sprouting from the pull top dispenser. I asked her why she had bought sugar-free instead of regular.

"Oh, it was on sale and I figured I could use the lower calories, but it's too nasty to eat." From a woman who weighs 110 pounds soaking wet with army boots, and still insists she'll be just fine now that she is back at home.

When I brought the groceries in, I announced aloud the contents of each sack as I removed them. Along with the REAL maple syrup, I bought some red grapes and some nectarines - expecting some response like, "Oh good! Those look really fresh".

Nuh uh.

"Thanks, but don't buy any more fruit," she admonished.

"No more fruit," I say as more statement than question.

"Nah, no more. I ate so much fruit when I was in that place, I don't think I want anymore for a while."

The original fruitcake woman now only wants her cake, thank you very much.

Deciding it would be much easier on her and myself if she used disposable plates, cups and untensils, I loaded up on these items at my local Sams when Mom moved back home. Not particularly green but hey...she is saving water.

I noticed this evening her kitchen sink was full of said plastic ware. I started picking it up and stuffing it into her trash bag. "Hey, don't throw those away! They're still good. I'll wash them up in a minute, just leave them."

As I walk away from the kitchen she stalls my intended leave and wants me to watch the rest of Law and Order. I sit on the sofa next to her easy chair. She says she saw on TV where you can buy a DVD of House at Wal-Mart. "Now, is it the new season of House, or is it the old shows?"

"Mom, the new season won't start until mid-September, so the DVD is of the old shows." "Oh, well", she says with a shrug, "I like all of them, so maybe I'll get it anyway."

She mentions that she doesn't care for the short balding intern doctor with the big nose on House; she thinks he was funnier when he was on Monk. I told her that was two different actors, but she ignores me and points out that she just watched the exact same Law and Order plot on Criminal Intent just last night. I don't doubt her, about this she is probably spot on. She says sometimes the shows change up their endings. She has seen this episode of Law and Order a couple of times, but this time the ending has changed. "They do that you know," she says, "to keep it different."

To be fair, Mom does seem to be much happier in her own home, though I am fearful of all sorts of mishaps. So far, so good, but how long this fairly successful semi-independence will last is anyone's guess. My brother didn't think it was a good idea to let her leave the assisted living center, but I could tell the Mimster (grandkids call her "Mimi") was sad, and the happy face she put on was just that...put on.

Kman often speaks of how his aunt forced his grandfather to leave his country home where he lived contentedly alone and move into town to a nursing home. Papa argued that he had neighbors who stopped by and brought him groceries and visited. The eldest daughter who lived up in the far northeast explained to her siblings that the situation was dangerous, he wasn't eating right for his blood sugar and he might fall. Her wishes prevailed and Papa saw his old home for the last time as his grown children drove him up the dirt lane to town. The old man was heartbroken, and died within a year of the move. What did it matter if Papa died at home? He was in his 90's, had been fiercely independent all his life, and was of the generation where a man who lost his dignity was lower than a snake in the grass.

I will no doubt have a bigger load of both work and worry now that the assisted living arrangment for Mom has ceased, but...

She'll be just fine now that she is back at home, doncha know.


Wanda said...

Yeah. I know. My dad is in assisted living because Mom was killing herself taking care of him. It is NOT easy to make these decisions. But...a happy life (in my opinion) is better than a long decline to an already long life.

Good luck to the Mimster...and you.

Darlene said...

What a sad tale about what happens when dementia sets in. I hope I never reach that stage and am able to live alone with my security button to press if I fall and a good friend that e-mails me every morning to make sure I am up. My worst nightmare is having to go to a nursing home.

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, she now has a very sweet dog for company who could possibly apply for canine Social Security next week..."

I called the Mimski and spoke with Micah, and she said "ain't that the pot calling the kettle black???"

Whisky Prajer said...

My brother and I have kidded each other about booking into assisted living early, so we'd have more time to play cards and complain about the government. There's truth in every jest, of course: so long as one has company and care they actually enjoy, the scene in these houses can be quite pleasant. But it seems unfortunately rare for these two qualities to meet. Scratch that: a person is lucky if even one of them is present.

And it occurs to me that by the time I require such care, it could be increasingly difficult to obtain due to my being on the tail end of the Boomer Gen. Perhaps if I start grumbling in front of my kids now, they'll do something about it....

Cowtown Pattie said...

Dughter Anon:

"pot calling the kettle black"...bwahahahaha!

Wanda: thanks for the well wishes!

Darlene: Well the Mimster isn't quite "there" in terms of dementia, she is very functional, but I can see where this is headed most likely. Thanks for stopping by!

WP: Yep, I am right there with ya in terms of being close to the tailend of a parenthesied generation. Besides, I'm gonna move to the desert and disappear from the radar when I really get batshit crazy. In Terlingua, no one will notice any difference *smile*

Anonymous said...

This post reminded me of my Mama the last time she lived on her own. I wish she'd had dog for company because the days and nights can get long when you're not out and about as much. There are private homes with excellent personal care and food, usually have 2 or 3 guests and cost less than assisted or nursing care. (I found one in our neighborhood.) Your state Health Department should have info of these licensed care homes. Your Mimster sounds like a treasure, I like her!

kenju said...

Pattie, Ronni sent me. I am sorry about your mom, as I know they can cause great bouts of worry and exasperation. My mother-in-law resisted going to assisted living with a fierce passion, but one she was moved in, in 2 weeks she became the belle of the ball and began to love it. Then she asked why we had kept her from the place for so long.
It was maddening, but it turned out fine. I was lucky in my parent's situation, since my dad took care of mom until she died and then he remarried and his wife took care of him (after a fashion). I wasn't happy with her care of him, but I had no say in the matter at that point. I hope your mom's situation improves.

Elaine of Kalilily said...

Pattie, it's your wonderful sense of humor that will help you deal with whatever the future holds for you mother. I've come to think that it's better to let our old folks stay in their own homes as long as possible -- but not at the expense of the health and well being of their family caregivers. You have my utmost admiration for the care you give your mother.

Maggie said...

We were incredibly grateful that after our friend Duck fell, we took him to the hospital....which he left thinking the cruise ship had docked and left him on board. Very grateful. This got him a one way trip to a nursing home where he also fell regularly....excaped despite all their eagle eyes, and lived with great dignity until his death.

Dimentia is the saddest of all diseases.

We are forever grateful that he liked the food, liked his roommates, and remembered us until the last day. What more could we ask for. Our neighbors story is a far sadder one.

Mildred Garfield said...

I can relate to what your mom said about the food being "crap."

My father was in a nursing home and when I would visit him I'd ask, "dad, what did you have for dinner?"

He couldn't tell me, I couldn't understand so I asked the nurse - "what did my dad have for dinner?"

She said, "chipped beef on toast!"
Never in his life did he ever eat anything like that.

It's hard for everyone when a family member is in a nursing home.

As long as you and your mom feel comfortable having her back home, it's worth the effort.

Cowtown Pattie said...

Thank you all for the kind words of encouragement. I can only do what my heart tells me to do, though that is often in conflict with my common sense.

The TGB community is terrific.

Anonymous said...

Pattie--I had to chuckle over your having supplied your mother with plastic dishes. Her response is exactly as mine would be: they can be washed and re-used. Better we should eat off of our Corelle Ware or whatever.

It's terribly hard for us to let loose and understand that our parents should (as your mother is doing) be making their own decisions. So what if it shortens lives. Life isn't worth living when it must be lived by someone else's playbook. I believed that as a kid and I believe it as an old person.

You are doing great, Kid. Keep on keeping on!

Whiskey--More than likely, your complaining in front of your kids will get you landed in a nursing home! *snickering*
Cop Car

Elizabeth said...

My mother was a temporary inmate at a nursing home,too, I know how hard the decision can be.

It's hard when you don't know what's coming next.

Anonymous said...

my mother was good hearted about going to the nursing home, she thought that it would be like her apartment. Sadly she came to the realization that she was in a locked down facility as that was all we could afford...and screamed at me that I put her in prison. Its hell getting old and old and ill twice nay 10 times as bad. God bless you for the care that you give and strength for the journey with your mom...


Joe said...


the comment about batshit in Terlingua cracked me up. I got a vision of that last time at the KIva on Keroke night when everyone singing was probably 80+. It was a hoot, and no, nobody will notice if you're nuts. We're probably gonna be right there with ya, but by then we won't know who any of us are.
Hope your mom does good!
Joe out West

Cowtown Pattie said...


Be sure to buy me a cold one when next we meet at La Kiva!

Or maybe just another Terlingua Tequila Sunrise...

Anonymous said...

Stay strong, Miss Pattie. Give Mimster lots of hugs. Prayers for you :-)