All these confused old people

Source: All these confused old people

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All these confused old people

The assisted living where Mama and Bill live is full of confused old people.

I know it is because she told me so.

They offered her a job out there. I asked what it was and she, “Well, running the place, of course.”

She wasn’t sure she’d take it, though, because she just can’t be away from her regular job that much. But she does feel that if she can help those confused old people, she ought to.

I’m unclear on the pay and benefits, but she has accepted their offer.

She called me a few weeks ago to tell me to call my brother and tell  him to tell the man who was coming to fix the teevee that she was going to be out of the office for an hour or so. I asked where she was going, and she said, in a most patronizing manner, “These office supplies don’t buy themselves, Susan.”

She has reached a point in her Alzheimer’s where she can make a plan, but she can’t work through the possible speed bumps and how she will circumvent them.

Last week, she waited until about 6 one night and then called for an EMT to take Bill to the VA for a rash and because his hands were on fire. And he fell and hit his head. (None of this was true).

They went in the ambulance to the VA, where I imagine she expected to stay overnight, and then when it was daylight again, she’d call for my Aunt Betty and the get-away car.

She did not count on the place calling my brother or me and letting us know, nor on one of us calling the VA and letting them know she might be plotting, so they should proceed with extreme caution in getting them back where they belong.

The next morning, when I called to ask if they were back, I was told they were in the dining room having breakfast, yukking it up like nothing had happened.

A day or so after that, she butt dialed me and I heard her fiddling around and saying that she was going to get that phone number, dammit.

I listened for about three minutes and hung up. She called me about five minutes later and when I answered, she very professionally said, “Yes, I need a phone number for Jim Hilburn, please. He’s an attorney.”

It became very clear to me that she thought she was talking to information, and I thought it might be best to see how it all played out. I asked what kind of cases did he take and she said, “All kinds.” I asked who she was suing and she said she didn’t know, and then launched into a spiel about how “they have us in this place where nobody does their job and they’re rude to me,” and how they had said they’d turn them out and put them in some old run-down house, and she was NOT HAVING IT.

I understand that they don’t want to be there. I don’t want them to be there. What I want is my mama back like she was: smart and funny and creative and talented and resourceful. I’m not going to be getting that.

I have to remind myself when these things happen that that’s not my mama. That’s a pale shadow of my mama and Bill and we’re paying for her care.

Mostly I find the humor in it, especially when she tells me about those confused old people she’s surrounded by. Sometimes, though, it pinches my heart, harder than my mother ever pinched my upper arm to get me to behave.

I would not wish this on anyone.

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The hard decisions

This past week, my brother and I went to our hometown to see about Mama and Bill, with the intention of starting home health care visits for them a few times a week – just to see that they’re taking their meds, check their blood pressure, see how they’re feeling, that sort of thing. Well, that and getting them moved back to the house Mama grew up in.

Things quickly escalated and we found ourselves on the horns of a dilemma. They can’t live alone – it’s simply no longer safe for them.

Yesterday, after a lot of gyrations, we checked them in to a lovely assisted living home. It’s like a five-star resort with wide doors and no steps.

They’re not happy about it, but today they had a good day. She played the piano and they all applauded and asked her to play again tomorrow. Bill has met some other veterans and figured out how to get strawberry ice cream any time he wants it.

This week would have been undoable without very real help from my sister, Kim, who busted ass all week getting their old house in order, and Daddy and Mary Ellen, who kept m’dawg and put me up while I was coming and going, and are, even now, running a load of laundry for Bill.

Polly and Jerry came over and helped sort out their other old house.

My friend Bruce was passing through on Thursday and we had lunch.

My friend Lori drove down from Atlanta and got us through the final push – the gathering of the little things they need, getting Bill to a haircut, being endlessly patient with my parents, and talking to my brother and me about pretty much anything but what was going on in geriatric world.

This has been a gut-wrenching decision for us, and we are grateful for all the large and small kindness shown to us.

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For all the times

For all the times my mama said, I do know what it means, but you need to look it up.

For all the times my mama said, you’re not getting an airbrush t-shirt or no, you may not have a weird haircut, or black is too growny for you,

For the million and twelve times she said run through it again and drop the “uhs” and “ums”,

For the trillions of times she said stand up straight, nobody likes a slouchy short person,

For all the times she said well, you’re old enough to be aware of the consequences of your actions; don’t be late for supper,

For all the hundreds of thousands of times she made practice tests for me until we both knew I knew it all,

For investigating before marching herself to school and taking names and kicking butts,

For never once pointing out I looked like Billy Carter,

For always saying Susan has prominent teeth rather than Susan has buck teeth,

For never asking me why if I needed money,

For bringing home my baby brother, who became my best friend,

For taking in strays, people and animals, and looking after them,

For always telling me you can do better, Susan,

For being hilariously dry.

For pushing good subject/verb agreement like it was her job,

And for that one time she said, oh, dry up, kid, it’s not even one of the important ones,

Happy mother’s day to my mama, the inimitable Miss Jan.

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Ye gods.

I have obligated myself to go to Young Harris tomorrow for dedication of the new circulation desk.

About a bajillion people I haven’t seen in thirty years will be there.

I normally wouldn’t do this sort of thing because I don’t want to hold in my stomach for that long, but I figure I might as well before I’m too old to drive at night.

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Zaxby’s, take down those ads.

I sent a note to Zaxby’s this afternoon because I cannot give them money as long as they are running the Duck Dynasty ad campaign.

A representative from Zaxby’s just called me and asked me (and I am not making this up), “What is up with this?”

As much as I did not want to repeat the vile things Phil Robertson said at a prayer breakfast, I read them to the woman on the phone.

Then I sat there and waited.

She exhaled (like in the book, I guess) and said, “well, that’s disgusting.”

I agreed that it was and said “I cannot give my money to a company that supports hate speech, and that’s not even all of it.”

I asked that the campaign be shut down immediately and that all remaining merchandise be destroyed.

I also made it a point to tell her that I patronize a particular Zaxby’s and that I love them: they are efficient and friendly and it’s always beautifully clean in there.

I am now going to make it my mission to pester them until whoever is in charge acts. I have already sent them an email, spoken with them on the phone, and reached out to them via Facebook. I will be tweeting and encouraging others to do so.

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Common Courtesy

On the Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Leonard have The Roommate Agreement.

One of the rules is The Manners Rule, in which Sheldon states:

At least once a day, I ask how you are, even though I simply don’t care.

There’s a lot to be said for just asking, just as a matter of course, and looking interested in the answer to the question, even if the answer is longer than, “Fine, thanks. You?”

It’s free to ask, and it’s free to listen and it greases the wheels of society a little bit.

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