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.