Disappearing Beds and the Mexican Mafia

Notes from the Eldercare Underground:  High School Confidential

I went over to see my mother at The Hotel today to check up on her back pain and to see if they’d managed to get her out of bed and moving. 

As I mentioned before, she’s been kind of playing the staff this last weekend so they would allow her to take her meals in her room and not have to make “the long march” down to the dining hall.

When I opened the door to her room, I found her slouched way down in one of her chairs, dozing; much like you’d expect to find a sullen teenager. 

Not a good position for a back pain sufferer.

She said she’d had one good night of sleep the other night but last night her back was hurting, so I told her I would check with Sandra and see what she said.

My mother asked “Is she ‘the blonde’?”

I said “If you mean, Sandra, the manager—yes.”

“I don’t like her,” my mother countered.

“You don’t like her because she makes you work.”

As I started out the door my mother, in retaliation, pulled out the big guns:

“Pull your shirt down in back.”

I hesitated for a mere nanosecond and then kept going out the door.  

It ain’t gonna work this time, old woman.

Sandra was in the dining room setting up the tables for the residents’ Valentine’s party.  We chatted about my mother’s health and how switching out her antique ironwork bedstead for a lower bed frame this last weekend should help keep her from having any more episodes of falling.

Sandra has such a great attitude and is able to laugh off some of the disconcerting things that occur, mainly with the residents who suffer from varying stages of dementia.

It seems that my mother didn’t remember us changing out her bed, even though she was sitting in a chair in the room the whole time.  So she went around telling all the ladies in her little circle that someone had come into her room and stolen her bed.

Well.  The news traveled like wildfire and Sandra had to do some damage control to quash that rumor.  Even after she’d explained things to my mother, she’d caught her repeating her story to another gal pal.

But Sandra said that wasn’t the worst rumor to be passed around. 

Last year Guaranty Bank was taken over by Compass Bank and someone spread the news that the bank was going under.  (Shades of the Depression.) 

Then the word got out that it was really the Mexican Mafia that had taken over.

A gaggle of panicked women gathered in Sandra’s office and she actually had to have someone come out from the bank to assuage their fears, it got that bad.

And there was the story that one lady spread about another in which the lady in question was supposedly stealing things from everyone’s room.  This of course was false, but the rumor persisted.  The rumor monger said that the woman had been told if she didn’t stop stealing she was going to “go to jail for the rest of her life.”

The woman was 96, so I don’t think she was facing a long stint in the slammer.

The kicker was, the “burglar” had a stroke and was in rehab in another building for several months.  When she came back it just confirmed to all that she’d been arrested and had been incarcerated for her wrongdoings.

On my way out I ran into Dee, the daughter of one of my mother’s tablemates.  Dee was once our insurance agent, so we’ve known each other for some time.

Dee and I laughed about how The Hotel was just like high school (or even junior high school) with its cliques and catty stories. 

Not long ago she was on her way to sign her mother out for a beauty appointment and walked past the group of women who hang out in the cozy wingchairs by the nurses’ station.

Her mother calls them “the knotheads,” even though she’s been known to sit there with them herself.

As Dee was signing the “furlough” sheet, she could hear the “knotheads” whispering amongst themselves about “who did she think she was, checking her out just before lunch was being served?”

Then one of them said “Oh, it’s her daughter.” 

And someone else said “Yeah, she’s the one who always wears those low cut tops.” 

(Note:  Dee happens to occasionally wear v-necks, but not anything near what I would consider daring or racy.)

We laughed about how I need to pull my shirt down in back and she needs to stop looking like a floozy.

Then I told her about my mother and the disappearing bed. 

Dee said she’d heard the story from her mother, too. 

And her mother even went one better.  She said,

“Do you know that someone stole Iris’ bed? 

And she was in the room the whole time!”

Peyton Place has nothing on this bunch.

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9 thoughts on “Disappearing Beds and the Mexican Mafia

  1. i love it! it’s only a matter of time before there’s a reality television program featuring nursing home residents! if you haven’t seen the documentary called “Young@Heart”, about the senior singing group? i think you’d love it!

    official trailer is here:

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  2. This post took me back in time to what the catty girls in my high school were like and my forever gossiping grandmother’s disappointment that I was not a member of the catty girls clique. Some people are simply impossible to please. I hope I’m flattened by an errant piece of that bucket of bolts, Skylab, crash landing back to earth than finding myself under the same roof as the knotheads in 30-odd years.

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  3. Oh, this sounds so familiar! The junior high attitude is especially rampant at my mom’s assisted living dining room. There is a “popular ‘kids'” table, and everyone will only sit with certain people for meals. My mom tries to avoid having to find a group of people to eat with by going down early to be the one sitting at the table so that others will sit with her. It is depressing to think that we have to relive junior high again.

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  4. I see this sort of stuff all the time at wrh..cracks me up..what gets me is they all have their own place to sit in the dining room, and woe unto the new person who wheels them to the wrong table or faces their wheel chair in the wrong direction..

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  5. Thanks for sharing these great stories of your Mother — I love and enjoy reading them. You have such a beautiful way of writing, keeping it all on a ‘fun’ level — even if/when, the realness of it all can become, not always so fun for you.

    Your Mother is lucky to have you for a daughter, to be there with/for her always. There are always, many of these folks who never even have any visitors – and that is so sad.

    Bless you for being the wonderful ‘daughter/person/writer’ that you are.

    Have a nice day – every day.

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  6. You could not make this stuff up!!!! I am loving these, although I realize it must be tough dealing with your Mom’s decline. Still, I’m glad you can see the humour in things! xox

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  7. Great post! I was chuckling all the way through reading it.
    My mother is no way near 96, but I she does have those paranoid moments “oh you girls never beleive what I say! (imagine pouty-mad look).
    Sandra is a SAINT! Having taking care of my in-laws a few weeks back – it takes a dedicated and patient human being to hold such a position. Oh…. and I forgot humour! With humour, we can get through most anything!
    Keep on writing about The Hotel!

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