Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2016

Dementia

I’d like to bring the room down a little now. Can we get the lights? Thanks, Diane.

Alright. The thing is, my mom has dementia. So I’m gonna do some real talk here. This disease, which is a massive cunt and can die in a fire, is progressing faster than I thought it would. I saw my mom’s mother progress through it but I wasn’t actually on the front lines of that war so maybe I just thought it was a slower process than it actually is. Cause y’all, it’s…it’s… yeah. It trucks. She’s taking that medication they advertise on tv that’s supposed to “slow the progression,” after my dad finally stood over her and made her call the doctor. (a scenario they do not usually include in commercials) If you’re only having a very brief encounter with her, you might not notice anything wrong. But her filter is disappearing, so she’s becoming a bit of a wildcard. Not really so much in that overly blunt, Ouiser, Steel Magnolia kind of way. She is still her sweet, kind self for the most part. Which is honestly kind of surprising to me because under the circumstances if I were her I feel like I might want to take out some anger and frustration with a baseball bat and a destructible object. But as I am learning, there isn’t really any directing this shit the way you want it to go. I wanted to think at this stage she would kind of be like a maverick, just overly blunt, you know, like throwing down uncomfortable truths at awkward times and throwing in some well earned profanity. Something to which I think everyone aspires in old age. But whereas that’s kind of cool? Bona fide, outright confusion is something else allllltogether.

I’ve tried talking to my dad about it. I can’t seem to get much information out of him about what’s going on, or maybe he’s as discombobulated about it as everyone else. Maybe this is just the way it is now and that’s all there is to say about it. But the thing is my parents have always been bad about telling my two older brothers and me anything negative like about illnesses or deaths in the family. Their attitude has always been “well, there’s nothing you can do about it anyway. Why worry you?” Which, okay. But really, I feel like part of it is that they question if boys really care all that much about family business, and, because I’ve never married or had kids, they have always felt like, even in my 40s, I’m still the baby. In their day, spawning your own family was definitive proof of adulthood and capability, so they see me as some kind of perpetual teenager who can’t really handle much emotional heavy lifting. None of which bothers me all that much, just laying out the facts for you. I think a lot of single women find themselves in similar situations. Anyway, so I can’t tell now if my dad isn’t communicating much because he doesn’t want to burden or scare me, or if it’s because, as they have always done, my parents only really trust each other and just want everyone else to go away and leave them alone to get on with things. (#relationshipgoals) They’ve always kind of been like wounded animals when it comes to illness or grief. They retreat into the deepest part of the cave together to wait things out and growl at anyone who gets too close.

So I guess we’re all dealing with it in our own way. Like five, unrelated people who used to live together when they were very young and couldn’t wait to get their own places.  My brothers come to me for information and updates. They are both living out of town, and even if they were here, I’m the girl, and girls usually end up being the caretakers and managers in the family. Is that just a Southern thing? Before mama’s mind started to go, none of us really talked to each other much. Everyone told her their news and she disseminated it to everyone else on a need-to-know basis. Now, well, I guess we’re all kind of in free fall and figuring things out. “This is the new normal,” I keep telling family, my answers to their questions tinged with a minty we-can’t-do-shit-about-it-so-stop-asking-me, when their frustration and fear begins to exasperate and frustrate me. “Just accept it. It’s not going to get any better.” (“So stop complaining to me and stop making suggestions of things we should try and stop calling me and reporting every little thing she forgets.” That part is just for me. In my head. And now for you, my therapy animals.)

It’s probably a dumb risk to blog about this. I mean for the love of god if you know my parents PLEASE don’t drop a well meaning card in the mail. But I really thought it might help someone else who’s slogging through this same swamp. Maybe. I don’t know. I know it makes me feel a little better to voice it, so to speak. My parents don’t talk about it and don’t really want anyone to know about it, largely because they’re big believers in not being a bother to anyone. Not being a burden. Physically or mentally. These people bought nursing home insurance in their early 50s so they could choose their own end of life care. They also bought four cemetery plots (because two of their single children might need one someday (and by the way when they bought these plots, we were in our 20s and 30s, so clearly they had high hopes for their children’s future marriage statuses)). Then they paid for all of their own funeral expenses, and put down their engraved tombstone. All that’s left is to engrave the death dates and write the obits. I 100% appreciate all of this preparation, even though in his Operation: Deathquest zeal my dad, who is the long time family genealogist, had my brothers’ and my names chiseled into the back of my parents’ joint tombstone for future genealogists. Ever seen your name etched into a tombstone in a cemetery? It feels exactly like you think it would. Also also, my parents have made themselves unofficial caretakers of the small cemetery where they will be buried. And every time they go, they stop and visit THEIR OWN GRAVES. FOR FUN. This is not normal. The way they talk about it they sound almost excited about the prospect of their new digs. (I hope this will be a comfort to me when they actually die.)

My parents are big believers in “no one cares.” No one, with the possible exception of mothers and maybe spouses, cares about anything that happens to anyone. Not really. That thing you won? No one really cares. Not really. Only your mom and your spouse. Maybe your kids. That illness you have? Meh. I mean, people may feel bad for you, and they will say the things they’re supposed to say, but your news doesn’t really affect their day to day lives. Only your spouse’s. And your parents. So every award my parents have ever won, every achievement, every hardship, every illness, all of it has been kept very close to the chest. No one wants to hear someone brag or complain. Just tell your parents and the person/people legally bound to you and maybe your aunt who loves you and then move along. So when you’re not married and you don’t have kids, and this is what has been drilled into you your whole life, the prospect of losing your parents is especially frightening. I mean, I’m not scared enough to settle for someone I don’t really love just to have a spouse. Fuck that noise. We’re not ALL desperate. #NotAllFatGirls But it’s still a little scary, the prospect of the one person contractually bound by the Universe to give a shit about you, checking out, either mentally or physically. And even scarier when you are a woman who seems to have inherited an awful lot of traits from your mother’s family. And your mother has dementia. And her mother had it. And her mother had it. So there’s this delightful Waldorf salad of stories about your grandmother’s brain-wasting antics, and seeing your mother fade away, which you’re kind of watching happen through a glass window from a lobby (look out, I’m working in metaphors here, don’t be scared) and you only get to see it in person on visitation days and the rest of the time you have to trust her care to her orderly, and then on top is a terrible mayonnaise-based dressing of You’re Next Only There Won’t Be Any Orderlies You’re Just Going to Be That Batshit Old Woman Who Accidentally Sets Her Apartment Complex On Fire And Then They Haul Off to a State Run Nursing Home Where They’re Going to Abuse You Because Your Mind is Gone and They Can Get Away With It So You Should Go Ahead and Plan Your Suicide Now For When You Start to Realize You’re Slipping. (Pro Tip: Maybe save the movie Still Alice for a time when you are not feeling vulnerable about this kind of thing. Or maybe you never need to watch it. Ever.)

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!! YAY!!! The holidays really bring out the happiness, don’t they?? I mean I am LITERALLY drowning in happiness and good thoughts and positive energy and prayers and thoughts and prayers and all the prayers and the good vibes and thoughts and prayers over here! Which is fine because they are about as effective as medical science is for this shit! MERRY CHRISTMAS YOU OLD SAVINGS AND LOAN!!!

Read Full Post »

Hey did I ever tell you about that mouse infestation in my house?

So, one night I was taking a picture of some drinking glasses that my friend Stu sent me for Christmas. I loved them as they featured my second and third favorite members of KISS, The Spaceman and The Starchild

Then, suddenly, I noticed something large-ish and black out of the corner of my eye skittering down the hall toward the kitchen. I didn’t get a good look at it but judging from the size and color, it was either a mouse, a giant African cockroach, or a tarantula. So I got up and stood with my arms clutched to my chest and whinging to myself for about five minutes in my office before talking myself down and realizing that no one else was gonna take care of this. I’m single and I live alone. I had to pursue the perp myself. So I skulked about That End of the house with my camera (for evidence), a flashlight (to look under furniture), a broom (with which to subdue the suspect) and my iPhone for moral support.  I did what any reasonable, independent, college educated woman would do. I called my parents.

Who proceeded to support their only daughter in the only way they knew how. By laughing. And telling me it’s more scared of me blah blah blah if it crawls on me and murders me in the night YOU’LL BE SORRY. And not FIVE MINUTES EARLIER I had just called to wish my father a happy birthday! If I had been bitten my a mouse, tarantula or…. whatever the hell African cockroaches do to people which I’m sure is unpleasant and ultimately death-inducing, it would have been on THEIR HEADS. (and they would not have cared)

I sat on the dining room table with my feet on a chair for a while hoping the quiet would lure whateveritwas out of its hiding place. To no avail. Getting leftovers out of the fridge and heating them up was what I can only imagine looked like bad, overly dramatic pantomime. (if you have not had the unmitigated pleasure of seeing good, subtle Stanislavski mime, I feel sorry for you. It is magic.)  I apologize that I have no video footage available as I am sure you, like my cold, heartless parents who will be going to the creepiest nursing home I can find, would have enjoyed it. My father suggested if I kept a cleaner house, this wouldn’t be a problem. His room at the nursing home will not have a window. Or a door.

Finally I managed to trap the chupacabra in the hall closet!  Fat bastard ran under the door as I was walking into the bathroom the next morning. HI! GOOD MORNING! YOU HAVE VERMIN!!  Please shoot me.

I went by my parents’ house that morning and I updated my cold, heartless mother (who as you will recall laughed cruelly about the situation previously) and she told me to just put some DCON and water in the closet, it’ll die, and then just remove it. A dead chupacabra.  Decomposing in my coat closet. I had hoped there would be a way we could work together to liberate it without having to resort to violence, but my mother assured me that one cannot catch a live mouse, for they are crafty and wee. But my dad has a lot of experience with rodents so I waited around to ask him about it. My father is the neighborhood mole catcher/killer. My mother calls him The Mole-inator. He has some kind of trap that you put in the ground, it snaps down on the moles, killing them, and then you just pull it out and dispose of the evidence. Occasionally it only maims them so my dad has to finish them off. With a shovel. A SHOVEL. Anyway, he is so good at it that the neighbors started calling asking him to come help in their yards with their mole problems. So it’s like a new hobby I guess. Doesn’t bother him. This is the same man who sits on the back patio with a bb gun shooting the squirrels who try to steal “his peaches” from the next door neighbor’s peach trees. He really likes those peaches. What were we talking about?  Oh yes, I waited around to talk to my dad, hoping he wouldn’t mind removing the dead, probably vicious and rabies carrying mouse from my home. I just hoped he could figure out a way to do it without killing it.

Also I went by Home Depot that weekend and bought caulk, cement, and every other sealing device I could find and sealed up every opening to my home that wasn’t required in order to breathe. Or enter and exit. For PEOPLE.

Read Full Post »