We made the difficult decision this week to move my mother-in-law into a Memory Care unit. None of us are happy about it. But when someone insists on going to bed in a room that isn’t hers and starts storing her socks in the freezer, it’s pretty clear that independent living no longer suits her.
At least it’s clear to the supposed “experts.” I’m not so sure.
The thing is, my mother-in-law discovered, several years ago, a curling iron that I had put in the freezer. So, I feel like I’m one bed hop away from my own memory care incarceration and I certainly don’t have room to judge. However, the place where she is living administered a quiz to my mother-in-law that apparently assesses one’s need for more assistance and it, surprisingly, did not include any questions about the proper place to store your socks or your hair appliances.
“What did they ask her?” I asked my husband.
“The date. She didn’t know.”
Oh geez. Half the time I don’t know the date either. I have to ask my students or the lady at the dry cleaners when I’m writing a check at 4:00 in the afternoon.
“What city she lives in. She knew the state, but not the city.”
Well, I do know that. But I’ve lived here for 25 years (she’s only been here 2 years). And if you ask my Kindergartners what city they live in, they will tell you anything from Canada to Paris. I don’t see any of them getting stuck in a memory care unit.
“They asked her to fold a piece of paper a certain way and she did that perfectly.”
Oh. My. God. I’ve watched videos on how to fold a fitted bed sheet 10000 times and I still can’t do it right. And now they want me to do origami?
That’s 2 out of 3 questions I would have bombed. So, basically, I would have scored the same on the quiz as my mother-in-law.
Please don’t tell these people I lost my wedding rings last week, then found them on the floor by my feet, or that I punched the play button on our home answering machine this afternoon and did not recognize my own voice leaving a message that I thought I was leaving on my husband’s cell phone voice mail until I replayed the stupid thing twice.
As long as I refuse to answer any questions and stay out of the freezer, I think I’m good for another couple of years.
But I’m going to learn how to fold a fitted bed sheet if it’s the last thing I do before my dementia diagnosis. And I know exactly the person who can teach me…
I almost bought a pack of cigarettes the other day.
I don’t smoke. Never have. But, I was really tempted to purchase some while I was standing in line at Walgreens.
The woman in front of me bought a pack, and this focused my attention on the variety of choices on the wall behind the register. It also made me reflect on the irony of a place that sells you medication at the same time it sells addictive cartons of cancer. But I digress.
In front of the cigarettes, a sign said, “We I.D. under 40.”
And I thought, I should buy a pack of cigarettes just to see if he will ask for my i.d.
I am 44.
How great would that be if he asked for my i.d., implying that he thinks I look like I am under 40 years old?
Of course, it could completely go the other way, I told myself. And that would not be good. What if it just says that on the sign, and they really just i.d. if you look under 21? You DO NOT look under 21, I don’t care what your husband tells you.
The Self who talks to me is very rude.
I tried to look at the woman-with-a-death-wish in front of me. The cashier had not asked for her i.d. I needed to compare myself to her.
But, I could not see her face. I started to plot ways to get her to turn around. Hey, uh, do you mind giving me one of those cigarettes? or just Oh my God. Would you look over there?
But The Self who talks to me indicated that those were stupid ideas.
And while I was arguing with The Self, the woman left, gliding through the automatic doors with her bag of Marlboros and Pedialyte without ever revealing her face to me.
I looked the cashier in the eyes as I slid my purchase onto the counter.
“Is this all, ma’am?” he asked.
And that’s all it took. I knew from that last word what I needed to do.
“Yes,” I hissed defiantly. You agist bastard.
He rang my one item up, and handed it to me as I furiously swiped my card, completely insulted by this person who I decided did not deserve the satisfaction of me allowing him to ask for my i.d.. Because he ma’amed me, and experience has taught me that “ma’am” is a four letter word for “you are about my grandmother’s age, so I’m going to act respectful.”
And, at that point, I wasn’t sure if I would just burst into tears or fly over the counter and try to strangle him if he did not have the good sense to ask for my i.d.
And I took my bottle of Revlon Age-Defying Foundation home, assuring myself that I will slather the stuff all over my face, neck, elbows, and knees for a week. I will even wear it at night. And then, I will return to purchase my pack of cigarettes that I will never smoke, and my i.d. will be demanded. And I will roll my eyes because people always make this mistake, and smile as I take out my driver’s license and prove that I am over 40, but have managed to maintain my attractive-and-younger-than-40 looks. And that I am just as capable of caking my lungs with black soot as the next 39 1/2 year old.
So there you have it – the real reason why cigarettes should be illegal.
And possible evidence for Walgreens to issue a restraining order against me.
(Twenty-five years ago, in the midst of being “kidnapped” at 1 A.M. by sorority members during pledging)
Fellow “kidnapping victim”, looking at me: Geez, how do you always look so perfect? It’s the middle of the night, we just got dumped out of bed, and you’ve got every hair in place, and you look gorgeous.
(Yesterday, in the parking lot, after spending an hour getting ready to go to the hospital to visit my mother-in-law:)
Dimples, my daughter: Mom, why do you have two different shoes on?
So, we have an elderly friend, MILlie, who moved into town a year ago. MILlie needs to go to a doctor. Instead of choosing from one of the thousands in San Antonio, she wants to see her former doctor. Which is fine. Except that he is 2 hours away. And MILlie doesn’t drive. For a recap of the beginning of this story, you can go here.
After finally getting the doctor’s correct name from MILlie, assuring her that I did, indeed, intend to have her accompany me on the trip, doing an internet search, calling a wrong number that directed me to the right number, calling the right number only to be told I needed to give them more information which I didn’t have, calling MILlie to get More Information, calling back to give them More Information, not being asked when I called back the second time for the More Information..
I made an appointment.
We were in business. I marked the date on the calendar for MILlie’s appointment and cleared my schedule for our road trip.
MILlie came over a few days ago.
“I need you to cancel that appointment,” she said.
I raised an eyebrow. At least that’s what I think I did.
“May I ask why?” I cautiously said.
She pulled out an entire section of the newspaper from her purse.
“I was afraid you were going to argue with me, so I brought this as proof,” she said.
“Don’t Ever Drive in this Town Two Hours Away Because The Roads Suck and You Will Die a Horrible Death” the headlines said. Or something to that effect.
“The roads are terrible there because all of the oil trucks are ruining them, and I would hate for something to happen to you just because you were driving me to the doctor,” MILlie said.
The roads are terrible here, too. But, I did not point this out to MILlie. Part of me was jumping for joy that I wouldn’t be going on the road trip, part of me was resenting all of the time I spent planning this adventure, and part of me was thinking about the last time I took MILlie to a doctor in town – which was not an experience either one of us would like to re-live. The environmentally concerned part of me was ticked off at all of the oil trucks, and the financially desperate part of me was wondering how I could cash in on this whole oil thing…
MILlie said, “So you don’t mind canceling the appointment?”
“Are you okay with me picking a doctor here in town?”
I gulped. “Alrighty then. I will get right on that.”
As soon as MILlie was gone, I called the 2 Hour Away Doctor. “Uh, do you guys have a recommendation for a doctor here in San Antonio?” I asked.
“We’ll have someone call you back with that information.”
I’m still waiting.
Something tells me I’m going to wish I’d made that road trip.
I do not have a good track record with doctors. So, I tend to avoid them if at all possible. I prefer to use the internet for my diagnoses.
MILlie, an elderly friend of the family, needs to go to the dermatologist. The only one she likes is in a different town that is about two hours away. Because I have had experience with trying to convince MILlie to try a new doctor in our town, I know better than to try that again. So, I agreed to take her. Which, in case you were not paying attention to my first paragraph, is a major sacrifice on my part. I am not telling you this merely because I want you to admire my heroism, but also because I want you to truly understand the irony of the last line of this post.
I called MILlie to make sure I had the right contact information so I could make the appointment.
“Well, let me get out the phone book,” MILlie said. “Okay. Here’s the address.”
“That’s okay. All I really need is the phone number for now,” I said.
“Well, it’s right across from the hospital. It’s in a big building. Across from the hospital. And, it’s in a suite. S-T-E.”
“No problem. If you can just give me the phone number, I’ll get the directions from the internet later, and then you can point out the building to me when we get there,” I said.
“Oh. Am I going to be with you?”
Well, I just got some bad news, so this post is probably not going to be as LOL hysterical as usual. I’m just warning you; read at your own risk.
The bad news is celebrity related, but you may be surprised to learn that my depression was not brought on by the announcement that Katie Holmes finally came to her senses and is divorcing Tom Cruise.
It has to do with another celebrity, Nora Ephron, who died this week. Nora wrote When Harry Met Sally, one of my many favorite movies. I am sad to hear that she is no longer with us, and I have said a Jedi prayer in her honor. But, that is not what has bummed me out, either.
As a tribute to Nora, I thought I should read her book about hating her neck. And, this is where I got my bad news. Amongst all of the cheerful information about turkey necks, chicken necks, and all fowl necks in between, Nora mentioned that her doctor had informed her that the decline of the neck begins at the age of 43.
I am 43.
Until this moment, I have not even thought about worrying about my neck, being more obsessed lately with my ridiculous vision changes, and trying not to let anyone know that the reason I can’t identify the rash on their arm is because I cannot see the rash on their arm unless they do me the favor of holding their arm a mile away. Instead, I tell them that I’m not a doctor, but it doesn’t look to me like they have anything on their arm. And now, they are going to die as a direct result of my vanity because I told them there is nothing wrong with them when they really probably have a fatal disease.
I used to think about my neck all of the time – back when I watched Ally McBeal, and the character Richard Fish was obsessed with the necks of older women, and could not be satisfied until he had touched a woman’s “wattle”. I used to think, “Hmm. I’m glad I don’t have a wattle. Because I am not at all attracted to Richard Fish, and I think I would have to kick him in the groin if he tried to touch any part of my body.” Now, in the last season of Ally McBeal, when Jon Bon Jovi was on, I finally found a character who I would have gladly allowed to touch my wattle. But, alas, he did not appear to have a wattle fetish.
Now, I am 43. And I am worried that Richard Fish is lurking around the corner waiting to touch my newly formed wattle. And, if he did that now, I would probably just sit down right there on the pavement and start crying because I have a wattle.
Or, because Nora Ephron died. Or, because Katie Holmes wasted over 5 years of her life on Tom Cruise.
It’s a sad day.
Two weeks ago, I took our elderly friend, MILlie, to an optical store. To get new glasses. MILlie did not like the new glasses that we got 6 months ago. So, since the day after we picked up those glasses the second time (because they did not suit her the first time) she has been wearing the ones she vehemently opposed before we ever began this adventure last year.
Despite the fact that I had taken MILlie to an eye doctor in town, she chose to go back to her former eye doctor 2 hours away – the one who had been responsible for the first pair of glasses she hated – to get another prescription. Then, she proceeded to hint to me, not so tactfully, that she needed to get that prescription filled with new glasses.
I polled friends to find out the name of a local place that would meet MILlie’s expectations – something better than the l0w-cost chain store I had taken her to the first time. Finally, one friend gave me a reference. It turned out to be right next door to the eye doctor to which I had taken her. I had initially spurned this place because it looked quite pricey. MILlie used to get her eyeglasses at Sears, and I was pretty sure she could not handle the sticker shock.
When I explained to MILlie that this was the only other place I had heard of in town that had pleased 100% of the customers I had polled (not mentioning that I only knew one customer), but that it was definitely going to cost more for one pair than the two pairs we got 6 months ago, she pondered it for a couple of weeks. Finally, she started to hint that I should take her there.
The new shop is a small “boutique” store with one person, the owner, working. MILlie chose the biggest coke-bottle lenses she could find from the display wall, and told the owner that was what she wanted. He told her that they were too big. She looked at me.
“Uhuh,” I said. “I am not saying anything this time. I gave you my opinion last time, and you ended up hating them.”
The owner persuaded her to try another pair that was slightly smaller. She turned to get my opinion. I shook my head, and pursed my lips stubbornly.
She finally ordered a pair with absolutely no input from me – despite at least three more attempts.
Today, I took her to pick them up. When we arrived, there was another pair of ladies already waiting. The eldest one, when called to the chair where fittings took place, set her glasses down on the table, looked the owner square in the face, and said, “I do NOT like these glasses. I don’t want bifocals. I want one pair of dark ones for driving, and I want another pair for reading.”
Her friend, who looked about 60, turned to me smiling. “Bertie has never been one to mince words.”
I grinned, but inwardly I groaned. I admired Bertie’s honesty, but I was afraid MILlie would, too. If MILlie suddenly decided she wanted two different pairs of glasses instead of the multitasking pair we had originally ordered, I was going to have to give this job to someone else and/or feed her glasses to Wonderbutt.
Bertie tried a new pair of frames, and turned to her friend, who said nothing. Bertie turned back around, and her friend looked at me, smiling with closed mouth as she moved her fingers across her lips. I sensed a bosom buddy.
Finally, Bertie was pleased. Her friend quickly got her own business taken care of, and it was MILlie’s turn. I held my breath for the announcement that she would like to change her glasses.
But the announcement never came. MILlie tried on her new pair, and declared herself satisfied. The entire trip home, she exclaimed about the crispness of the leaves on the trees.
I tried to be hopeful, but that was what she did six months ago…
I apologize. That was kind of a low blow yesterday, teasing you with a Big Announcement on today’s post. I think I was feeling a bit desperate when I realized how little I actually had to say.
Here’s the deal. I have this friend who is training to do his first full marathon. It’s a goal he has because he’s about to turn thirty.
He’s psyched about accomplishing this. And I am sure he will. He is Very Fit. And I,well, I am, uh – well, I’m not Unfit (except maybe as a mother). When was the last time you were able to run around the living room 10 times dragging a fifty pound Wonderbutt clenched like a vise onto the squeaky toy you’re holding? So, I am Somewhat Fit. But I just have no desire to do a marathon.
And another thing. How is running a marathon a major achievement when you are a Very Fit P.E. teacher who is TWENTY-NINE? Let me hear about a SIXTY-NINE year old who sits around playing World of Warcraft all day completing a marathon (the running kind), and I’ll throw a party for him.
So, then, I noticed Blue Speckled Pup has taken on a three day manuscript challenge. Which sounds just as hard as a friggin’ marathon in my opinion. Again, I am kind of middling qualified for this – I could do a scrapbook retreat for three days maybe.
I was really beginning to feel left out in all of this Bucket-List-milestone stuff when I got a pamphlet in the mail. And I am pretty confident no one I know, and probably no one who has read this, can claim the following accomplishment:
Adult Spelling Bee Champion.
Yes, folks, you heard it first here. I am going to participate in – and win – an Adult Spelling Bee.
One of our local writing organizations is sponsoring one in December. At least I think it’s the writing organization who is sponsoring it. It is on their calendar in their pamphlet of Fall courses.
Now that I think about it, I’m hoping it doesn’t have a Strip Club behind it. I mean, the word “Adult” could imply something completely different than what I initially imagined.
O.K. I’m having second thoughts. I think I better find out a few more details before I start my training regimen. I mean, I don’t think I’d have a problem with spelling pornographic words, but if there is some kind of performing required, I might have to reconsider.
I still have some dignity. I mean, I’m not a skank or anything.
If a scientist could figure out a way to take a picture of the actual bits of information stored in my brain, the photo would be featured on the next particularly horrifying episode of Hoarders.
Those of you who know me might wonder if I am overestimating the amount of paraphernalia in my brain; many people assume there is nothing in there. But I assure you that this girl’s noggin is packed full of information. It’s just that most of it is completely useless to me. Or to anyone else, for that matter.
Actually, that may not be true. I mean, have you seen the useless things that people will buy off of eBay? If you can auction off a dictator, why not a worthless memory? One man’s trash, etc…
If Craig’s list had a category for worthless memories, you can bet I would be listing some things on it. Anyone want to buy the phone number from my first house? That one still sits on top of a pile in my brain. How about the name of my first grade teacher? Or the type of cigarettes my dad used to smoke before he quit over 20 years ago? Why are these so easy to reach when I have to dig through rooms stacked with detritus to find my driver’s license number?
I’ve tried recycling them. Turning them into passwords or tossing them into stories I’m writing. When I tried to name our daughter after my first grade teacher so I wouldn’t have a new name to remember, my husband put his foot down. Inexplicably, I can now remember the name of our daughter’s first grade teacher, 3 years later, but my daughter still gets called by the dog’s name on a regular basis.
I don’t have to sell these junk recollections. I’d be fine with setting them on the porch for Goodwill to pick up. Or paying for a storage unit for my memories in The Cloud.
But, since there seems to be no “approved” disposal site, I’m considering throwing some money under the table for someone to pack all of that trash away to an illegal dumping ground.
Or lighting a match and collecting the insurance.
Anyone looking for some extra cash?
I forgot to wear my bra.
Periodically, as I attempt different fashion combinations inside my closet early in the morning, I throw things on without the bra b/c the final topper will determine the foundation, as most women know.
Every once in awhile, I am so flustered and running late, that I head out for the day without that somewhat necessary piece of equipment. I say “somewhat” because, unfortunately, some might look at that general area of my body and wonder why I even bother. However, in certain outfits, and in certain types of weather (such as really cold), trust me, it’s necessary.
The necessity can be compounded by the fact that I am a teacher, and spending an entire day in the classroom with certain pieces of clothing missing is generally frowned upon by anyone other than teenage boys. I don’t teach teenage boys.
I keep a sweater at school for just such emergencies. People tend to question you, however, when it is 107 outside, and you are wearing a sweater in a school whose antiquated air conditioning system can’t even come close to keeping up. “I’m cold, ” does not seem to be a satisfactory answer when your co-workers are fanning themselves with everything from clipboards to old book covers.
Now, if you happen to be one of said co-workers reading this post, let me assure you that I often am cold. I don’t really forget to don my bra that many days per year.
As you may have learned from my other posts, however, I have a tendency toward forgetfulness, which I blame on terrorists or the internet, and which sometimes manifests itself in my periodically incomplete or mismatched wardrobe.
So, I was sitting yesterday at my daughter’s synchronized swimming practice, when the horrible thought sent a chill down my spine. I forgot to put on a bra. That’s why that New Parent at the other end of the table eyed me so strangely!
I waited until I could surreptitiously and nonchalantly walk to the bathroom to try to create some sort of makeshift MacGyver bra. When I closed the door and lifted up my shirt, however, lo and behold, I discovered I actually had remembered after all.
Of course, after the relief wore off, I had to deal with the discomfort of two more tantalizing questions – how could I not know I was wearing a bra? And what else could have made New Parent look at me as though I had walked into the room with toilet paper hanging from the back of my shorts?
Oh, wait a second…