No Problemo

Notes from the Eldercare Underground:  Humiliation Edition

After a thoroughly enjoyable 45 minutes at Zumba this morning where I got down with the Kumbia Kings and their song “Boom Boom,” I went over to The Hotel to check on Mommy Dearest.

It was only about 12:30, so I figured she was still in the dining room finishing her lunch, which turned out to be cheese enchiladas, refried beans and tortillas.

Sounds good to me.

I set about seeing if her laundry basket was overflowing like it was recently, even though at that visit it’d only been a day and a half since I’d been there to see her.

Both times some things obviously didn’t need washing, and I suspect they just might have fallen off their hangers in the closet and then got stuffed into the basket.

My suspicions were ultimately confirmed when, after checking one of the antique dry sinks she uses to stash her cookies and crackers, I found a missing pajama top and a bra all wadded up and lying on her goodie hoard.

My husband read that you don’t have to worry that you have dementia until you find your missing pair of shoes in the refrigerator.

Do bras and pajama tops in the dry sink count?

Her laundry was a manageable pair of pants and a sweater that I could take home and bring back later this week, so I turned on her television and watched Turner Classic Movies.  It was the 1936 movie “Rembrandt,” starring Charles Laughton and a youngish Elsa Lanchester.

They were a married couple at that time, although they never had any children.  Various rumors circulated about the reason why they remained childless.  Laughton’s friend, Maureen O’Hara, offered some thoughts of her own on this, prompting Lanchester to say:

“She looks as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, or anywhere else.”


But I digress.

After a bit, Sandra, the Hotel manager, popped into the room to help set up the nebulizer my mother has been using since she developed a mild case of pneumonia a week ago.  She has to sit there and breathe in the vapors from the machine a couple times a day.  Rhonda, the Hotel day RN, came in also to get things rolling.

Sandra had the door open and was looking down the hall toward the dining room.  She saw my mother coming and called out to her cheerfully, “You have a visitor!”

My first instinct was to say “Don’t raise her expectations!  It’s only me!  She’ll be disappointed!”

When she came through the doorway with her walker and got past Sandra so she could see who was sitting there, she stopped and said in a pleasant voice, “That’s my daughter.”

Then she looked pointedly at me and said,

“What’s your problem?”

Both Sandra and Rhonda let out surprised yelps, followed by nervous laughter.

Sandra put her arm around my mother and chided her with “Now, that’s not the way to greet your daughter!  You should say “Hi, honey, I’m glad to see you!”

I tried to laugh along with them, but I just felt embarrassment and a degree of humiliation.

These were not new feelings.

I stayed and watched the rest of the movie while she used her breathing machine.  Every once in awhile I cast a sidelong glance at her.

How does someone come by a personality like that?

You can’t blame it on dementia because she was this way long before the bra and pajama top wound up in the dry sink.

After I left with her laundry in tow, I got into my car and cranked up the volume on my Kumbia Kings CD.

Boom boom.

18 thoughts on “No Problemo

  1. Dealing with dementia is hard. Dealing with it when the person wasn’t much nicer before dementia drives people to despair. You are amazing and someone should probably say so because the patience and grace you have shown is pretty spectacular. I have a poster in my office that says “I wish I was dead. No wait, not me, you.” You should probably have one of those as well. I don’t post much, but I love reading your blog and I sincerely hope you went home and poured a stiff one. God knows you deserve it.


  2. I feel for you… But try not to feel too bad- you’re not responsible for your mom’s nasty turn of personality, and you seem to be coping pretty well. My grandmother, who died at 100, had a corrosive personality and a tongue that could strip paint. She never had a nice word for anybody or anything in the 30 years I knew her. So make that drink a double, and hope for the best.


  3. I know you’re too wise to ever expect your mother to find the capacity to be warm and fuzzy toward you, but it is disheartening to know that even being luke and less prickly has yet to make her “to do” list. Maybe one day she’ll have a daylight moment, although peace in the Middle East might come sooner.


  4. Oh my heart goes out to you too. My mother has that acid tongue at times too.
    She was always judgmental and critical so what’s new? Me…I try to remember she’s too far gone to change and see her in a different light. We keep trying to please ’em but it ain’t never gonna happen!
    God Bless!


    • You got that right. She always says these things with a smile, so if you react negatively you’re the one who’s being “sassy.” I wish I had a dollar for everytime she’s asked me if I took my ugly pill today. lol


  5. My fundamental challenge with Mom – I don’t like her. Love her dearly, but she’s always been bitter and mean. Smile. Shake it off. Blog. Drink. Rumba. Boom boom.


  6. I forget how I stumbled onto your blog but reading it brings back … me, my Mother and I…. man oh man..

    She died at 96 -1/2 … I … well… oh, me… I’ve tried to not think about her … it’s so sad that when both of my parents died… I didn’t cry. I didn’t do a jig either. It was just … it’s over.

    I so envy people who have/had a relationship with their parents … I never had a conversation with either. I cared for both of them in their last year of life… I thought I would lose m’mind!

    They were both so disappointed I wasn’t perfect and chose to let me know every time I saw them … then especially when I was with her during her last year… shee boy


    • Thank you for your comment and for reading through my posts about my mother, even though it’s probably painful for you to do that. A few years ago my mother casually said that I wasn’t the daughter she’d wanted (she wanted a “girly” girl). Can’t do anything about that, like you can’t be perfect. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by. Y’all come back!


      • You’re very welcome … I noticed the wrong URL was listed and wanted to correct that. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before I commented. That’s my rant blog and not public AT all…. I tried to delete it but can’t see how.

        I’ll attempt again. If you can delete that I’d appreciate it and just recopy the post if y’want or just delete that blog! lol

        Looking forward to reading more of your stuff 😉


  7. Just found your blog. Wow can I relate! Your mother and my Grandma may be long lost sisters! “The Hotel” that she stays in has had to move her seat in the dining room 3 times since Christmas because she doesn’t like any of the “Old Crocks/Old Frog Faces” that she sits with. Her dementia is advancing but it’s not like she was a sweetheart 40 years ago!!
    Thankfully I’m the favorite grandaughter so I get spared the sharp tongue, but boy oh boy she can be one nasty ol’ gal.


  8. Welcome, B-Kat! Fortunately my mother seems to like (or tolerate) the three other ladies at her table. None of them can remember the others’ names, but that’s okay. She does complain about the other folks in the dining room, though. I think she calls them “Prune Faces.” But I think your grandma is quite creative with her “Old Frog Faces” quip.

    Thanks for stopping by–y’all come back!


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