Morbid Thoughts

American Gods DeadWife
Laura Moon, aka DeadWife

My husband and I are currently watching American Gods, a new TV show based on a Neil Gaiman book. One of the characters (my apologies for the early-on spoiler), is the deceased wife of the main character, who has been accidentally and magically reanimated. She is told that even though she’s up walking around, she is still dead, and will decompose, albeit at a slightly delayed rate, all the while being fully aware of the process.

Since it’s been raining here for over a week, and we have seen very little of the sun, and my emotional batteries of resilience are almost totally solar-powered, my thoughts are currently set to less-than-cheerful.

My morning coffee facilitates my daily resurrection process. This morning it dawned on me (get it? dawned? ha!) through the lens of tending to my elderly mother, and living in my own middle-aged body, that we are all enchantedly animated meat, experiencing our gradual decay through the (thankfully) additional magical element of time dilation, so that we can, for the most part, ignore it in our day-to-day lives. For the most part.

I hope the sun comes out soon.

Alway! First Thing!

Mom's Bathroom 2017-05-12 07.21.18

This morning was the second morning in a row that I heard Mom up early and her walker scooting into the kitchen before I had heard the bathroom door opening. I hurried to let the dogs out and get in there before she’d settled into her chair at the table (it’s almost impossible to get her up once she’s sat down).

“Good morning, Baby Girl!”

“Did you change your Depends?”

“No, I will later.”

“No! Always first thing! Every morning, when you get up, go change your Depends, first thing!”

“Okay, I’ll do it now.”

She clomped her walker around and headed back to the bathroom.

I was about to write that the rest of the morning’s routine proceeded without a hitch, but I just realized that her ride has come, she’s gone, and I totally forgot about checking her socks.

Socks in the Morning

Socks & Remote 2017-04-13 07.37.10
Socks on the Couch

One of the things I have to remember in the morning is to remove yesterday’s socks from the couch and affirm with Mom that she get clean socks every day. Sometimes our weekend routine is lax, which is why I’m guessing this photo shows three pairs of socks, but hey, at least the message of “clean socks every day” seems to be getting through. Mostly.

This morning, I go to the couch, move Mother’s purse aside (she tries to hide them from me), and see–no socks! I look around to find that she’s got them on the seat right beside her and as I move toward them, she covers them with her hand and gives me a look. I take them from under her hand, and once again, affirm, “Clean socks every day!”

“Okay, okay.”

She thinks I’m crazy.

Counting Rabbits

Rabbit tablecloth2017-05-01 19.53.35

Mom sometimes peers down the table to make sure that what is on her plate matches what is on our plates. She doesn’t want to miss out on anything, especially not anything food-related.

A few weeks ago, I noticed her looking back and forth, trying to see around the napkin holder and salt shaker and down the table. Since ‘We’ve got the exact same things on our plates as you have on your plate’ is too long and complicated a sentence to try without using the whiteboard, and it was across the kitchen, I made a point of noticing she was looking, and said, “What?”

“Nothing–I’m just counting rabbits. One-two-three-four. Five! Betcha didn’t know I could count that high!” And then she laughed.

Our Easter tablecloth is very busy (part of the reason for the new medication strategy I mentioned yesterday), and it is well past Easter, but I still see her counting rabbits at dinnertime. I guess it can stay on the table awhile longer.

New Medication Strategy

Meds on the napkin 2017-05-02 06.40.49

In an attempt to keep Mother’s pills off her lap, off the floor, and for them to actually reach her mouth, I’ve switched from the small Dipping-Cup-As-Med-Cup, which worked fairly well for the past year or so, to Meds-On-A-Black-Napkin.

With the dipping cup, she would feel for the pills and get two or three at a time, and they didn’t all always get to her mouth. She couldn’t see if/where they dropped and didn’t much worry about it, either. I would try to stand by and monitor, insisting she pick up one pill at a time, but then the dogs would bark to come inside, or the phone would ring or who knows what. She would also swirl her finger around the bowl to check how many were left, and end up swirling one or more out onto the tablecloth without realizing it.

So, a new strategy. Pills spread out across a high-contrast background so that only one comes easily to hand at a time. I still have to stand there, but at least one of us can better see what’s going on.

New Alarm

New Alarm for Mom 4.11.17

Sometimes I’m slow.

Most days, after Mom has her morning coffee and cookie, she moves to the couch and manages to fall asleep for the 10-15 minutes she has before it’s time to get dressed. I’m doing stuff around the house, the time slips by me, and suddenly it’s almost time for her ride to arrive, and she’s still sitting on the couch in her gown, dozing to the morning’s news.

It’s only taken me a year to figure out how to fix this.

Sunday Shopping

We go grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon. Every week, Mother looks forward to it and I dread it. Recently, I talked myself into trying to reframe it from “my weekly grocery shopping trip that I have to take Mom along on” to “Mom’s weekly outing wherein I also get to buy groceries”. And I really tried yesterday. I really did.

Around 4 pm, I hear Mom move from the couch to her bedroom, and I know she is getting ready for our grocery outing. After dressing, she goes into the bathroom to comb her hair and apply her lipstick. I remind her that she needs to change her briefs. When she strongly protests that she just did, just before she got dressed, I allow the look on her face to convince me that, even though I didn’t hear her go into the bathroom, perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention at that particular time. I don’t really believe her, but I don’t want to argue with her, just in case she’s telling the truth.

When it’s time to go, I check the back of her pants to make sure they’re not wet, and we head out to the car. When we arrive at Publix, I don’t think to check her pants when she gets out of the car, so I don’t see the saucer-sized wet spot beginning to spread across the back of her legs until she’s maneuvering to sit on the bench just inside the front door. I briefly consider ignoring it and getting on with the grocery shopping, but I know it will just be that much worse later. I bend over to say loudly into her ear, but at least not yell out to the entire supermarket, “You need to get up. We need to go back home.”

“Why?”

“Your pants are wet.”

“They’ll be fine.”

“No, we need to go back to the car. Your pants are wet.”

“I don’t have any pants in the car.”

“No, we have to go home.”

She realizes I’m not going to let it go, and slowly stands to move toward the door. I pull aside a young bagger to let her know that someone should wipe down the middle cushion of the bench.

When we get to the car and are pulling out of the parking lot, I say, “I WANT TO TELL YOU THAT I’M ANGRY.”

No response.

“DID YOU HEAR ME?”

“No, what did you say?”

“I SAID, I’M ANGRY.”

“Why are you angry?”

“I’M ANGRY BECAUSE YOU LIED TO ME ABOUT CHANGING YOUR BRIEFS. AND NOW THEY’RE WET AND WE HAVE TO GO HOME.”

“Well, I don’t want you to be angry.”

“AND I DON’T WANT YOU TO LIE TO ME ABOUT CHANGING YOUR BRIEFS. AND I’LL BE COMING BACK TO THE STORE BY MYSELF.”

“By yourself?? Why??”

“BECAUSE YOU LIED TO ME ABOUT CHANGING YOUR BRIEFS AND ENDED UP WITH WET PANTS. THAT’S NOT OKAY.”

When we get home and inside, I move to block her way to the couch so I can direct her into the bathroom to change. I wait to take her pants so I can put them straight into the wash, along with the pad she was sitting on in the car.

“Can you bring me some more pants?”

“No, just go on in your room and put on a housecoat.”

In the laundry room, I use a stainstick on the blots of lipstick spotting the front of her white pants before putting them and the pad into the washer. Over the splashing of the water filling the tub, I faintly hear my husband call from the other room that she’s yelling for me. I finish what I’m doing and go into her room to find her sitting on the bed.

“I need some pants.”

“No, just put a housecoat on.”

“I don’t have one.”

“They’re in your closet.”

“Will you hand me one?”

I pull a bright yellow, snap-front housedress off its hanger and hand it to her. She struggles to put in on, as if she’s never done it before. At this point, I’m too annoyed to be sympathetic, and while I help her put it on, I insist that she snap up the front herself.

“Okay – I’m going back to the grocery store.”

“And you’re going to leave me here.”

“Yes, I am. Do you know why?”

“Because you don’t like me.” (This is a joke/not joke reply. She doesn’t really think I don’t like her. But she knows I’m irritated with her.)

“No, because you lied to me about not changing your briefs.”

“Okay, okay, ” she says as she looks away. This is her way of ending the conversation. She lipreads as much or more than she actually hears. If she’s not looking at my face, I know she’s no longer participating.

I move to the door and, 45 minutes after my first attempt, leave, once again, to go buy groceries.