Tuesday, September 22, 2009

California: My Mother-in-Law

First let me say that I love my mother-in-law. I've had two in my life and this one far outshines the first. She is fun and funny, even before the Alzheimer's set in. But now, well it is an experience spending time with her.

We knew going into this trip that it would be exhausting and we would probably grow to feel a little sorry for my father-in-law who is annoying on his own level, but deals with her daily and for the most part does a great job of it.

But we had no idea.

I'm not sure I can capture the hilarity, enormity and somewhat sadness of how lost she really can be.

Here are a few snippets of conversation. Keep in mind that some of these conversations happened repeatedly - like in 10-12 times a day or maybe more. I lost count.


"Are you getting hungry Mom?"

"God no, I am stuffed. When did we eat last?"

"Well, it has been a few hours, but if you aren't hungry we don't have to eat."

"I can't eat a bite, I am so stuffed."

Five minutes later.


"I am starving, are we ever going to eat?"

The first time this happened I swear I thought she was being funny - but she was dead serious. It is as though she lost the ability to know if she is hungry or not.

Then there was the language.

For no reason, you would hear this:


"God dammit."

"What's the matter?"

"My shoe is untied." or "I can't find my lipstick." or something else than doesn't really warrant profanity.


This is the woman who never uttered profanity in her life and now rattles it off like a drunken sailor on leave.

Once in a restaurant after the waitress walked away she asked "What did that bitch want?"

I thought my husband was going to snort soda out of his nose.

At the bridal shower, she found a baby doll that belonged to the owner's little girl and began carrying it around, not so much like it was real, but like she was a little girl. It was sad and I felt bad for Larissa as she was saddened and probably a little embarrassed. However, the doll was apparently one of those "lifelike" dolls that wets and when she realized it "wet" on her, she was immediately pissed off and tossed it aside saying "that damn doll pissed on me".

Do you laugh, cry or both?

Every evening when we would go back to the hotel, she would ask which bed was hers. The third night she asked "where's my digs?". We pointed to her bed and she said, "but where's Arthur?"

David explained to her that he didn't come on the trip and she seemed really confused by this and upset. "But why not?"

Then she seemed to remember and realize that she forgot and that always pisses her off so out went a stream of profanity about her "stupid-ass disease".

The first day we were there, we realized she had not packed any bras or underwear other than what she was wearing. So while we were at the bridal shower, my husband went bra shopping for his mother. How sweet is that?

He said it would be much easier than taking her because she would either cuss everyone out or never make a decision.

When we got back, he told her to try them on and she proceeded to "drop trow" right in front of him. He said "Mom?" She was clueless and kept on going. He stepped into the bathroom until she was finished. She asked me where he went and I explained that he was giving her some privacy. She said "Oh hell, what does it matter."

He may be traumatized for life.

Each day when we would get ready, she would try to put her suit on she brought for the wedding. I would say, "no, today is the bridal shower, or no, today is the rehearsal dinner, or no, we're just going out to eat with so and so."

So finally on Monday, I said:

"Carol, here is your suit."

"I can't wear that, it is for the wedding."

"Today is the wedding."

"God dammit, I don't want to go to a f---ckin wedding today."

"But it is Larissa's wedding, the whole reason for the trip."

[imagine a stream of expletives here]

On the way to the wedding...

"Are we ever going to get to this damn wedding?"

"We're almost there."

"It's about f---ckin time."

At the wedding, over dinner...

"Are you ready to leave this f---ckin thing?"

"We'll leave as soon as they cut the cake."


The music started and we couldn't get her off the dance floor. She was dancing with man, woman alike. Anyone that would dance or couldn't get away from her fast enough.

On the airplane home, I was in serious pain. David tried really hard to occupy her but she was concerned about me. However, she would forget all that we had already explained to her and so every 10-15 minutes or so this conversation would take place.

"Honey, don't you feel well?"

"No, I don't."

"I have some Excedrin."

"I don't have a headache (I did but it was due to the
fever and I wasn't going to try to explain that to her."

"Well, Shirley takes Excedrin when she is sick and it
makes her feel better." (Shirley is her friend.)

"Does Shirley have problems with her pancreas?"

"No, she has migraines."

I thought of you, Lori, many times over those days. You are a gracious and loving daughter. Never forget that.

7 comments:

Kim said...

I couldn't help it - I laughed - Your poor husband LOL

Melody said...

Laughing is the best thing we can do. We did lots of it on this trip.

mistylea said...

God bless you! So funny! I can't help but remember the first time my grandpa yelled to my mom to bring him a urinal-and help him. I tucked tail and ran.(and he never had Altheizmers-he was just onrey!)

Gnightgirl said...

I've actually been considering starting a separate blog solely for the tales of Mother's conversations. (Livin' La Mama Loca...is that mean?)

Yesterday I told her "Mom, your shoes are on the wrong feet."

She said "which feet should they be on?"

James said...

heh. That was cool.

Paul said...

I think it's best to laugh now as preparation for the future. My mother-in-law has progressed beyond this point and, in general, has become more mellow and more nice than she ever was when younger. However, she has lost other functions that make caring for her extremely trying and exhausting.

My mother never had alzheimers but declined into dementia in her last years. We use some of her humorous phrases regularly.

MysteryGirl said...

I have to tell you, this is one of the funniest things I have ever read. You did a wonderful job of capturing the humor. Not that it isn't also sad. I remember when my grandfather was going through Alzheimers and he asked my then 11 year old brother "how's your sex life?"
You guys are real troopers for bringing her all the way to CA.