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.”


“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.


“No, what did you say?”


“Why are you angry?”


“Well, I don’t want you to be angry.”


“By yourself?? Why??”


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.


Another Friday Morning

6:18 am – Mom is up before my alarm, having awakened and turned hers off. I hear her in the kitchen and hurry to let the dogs out and get in there. By the time I make it, she has already poured her own coffee and dribbled half-and-half on the floor. Gracie will take care of that shortly.

6:20 am – I feed the dogs.

6:22 am – I hear “clickety-click-click” and turn to see one of Mom’s pills from yesterday morning come to rest on the floor behind her as she settles into her chair. Where has it been hiding since this time yesterday? Who knows? I pick it up and show it to her, explain where it came from, and try to reinforce the idea that she needs to put ONE PILL AT A TIME in her mouth. She says, “Okay.” “Okay, what?” “Okay, whatever you said.”

6:25 am – I get Mom’s morning meds for her. I stand by to make sure she takes ONE PILL AT A TIME. Towards the end, she grabs two. I bend down, holding up one finger – “ONE PILL AT A TIME!”. She nods and sets her pill cup aside because she can’t see the last bright orange pill against the bottom of the bright orange cup. I tell her there’s still one left. She feels around the bottom of the cup three time before finding it. She asks if she should take the one from yesterday that I found on the floor. I tell her no and throw it away.

6:30 am – I let the dogs out after their breakfast.

6:33 am – I fill my coffee cup and settle at my desk for morning journaling.

6:36 am – I hear Gracie barking and let the dogs back inside.

6:42 am – The dogs bark at a passerby.

6:48 am – The dogs bark as our neighbor across the street backs his car out of his driveway.

6:59 am – I open the front blinds. Too early to wake Mom from her doze on the couch, as she will tell me she’s waiting for 7:05. Or 7:06. Or some other arbitrary time.

7:13 am – I arrange Mom’s walker straight in front of her and wake her so she can get up to go get dressed. She gathers up all the paper napkins (five? six?) she’s arranged across the middle couch cushion to transfer them to the basket on her walker. I take them from her and throw them away, along with the one on the lamp table that Gracie is waiting to chew up when no one is looking. I walk over to the dining table to put exactly three paper napkins in the napkin holder by her seat at the table. I notice the coffee spill from her overfilled cup on my white and pastel striped tablecloth.

7:15 am – Mom calls from the bathroom because she has no toilet paper. I ignore the ringing phone and let the confirmation call for her ride service go to voice mail. There are three or four such in my voicemail box from other days.

7:20 – I hear Mom come out of the bathroom and enter her bedroom. I retrieve three pairs of socks from under one of her Bingo prize pillows on the couch and make it to her room just in time to put them in the hamper along with the clothes from yesterday that she is reaching for to put on again today. “No, Mom. Get clean clothes from your closet.”

7:32 – Mom comes out of her room so she can sit on the couch and see out the window while she puts her socks and shoes on. She looks at me, smiles, and says, “Peek-aboo! I see you!” I smile back and wave.

7:36 am – I take a chance at brushing my teeth and hear the dog alarm go off. Mom’s ride has arrived. I rinse my mouth and go to the living room, where the dogs are barking and jumping at the door, and Mom is watching TV. Can she really not hear them or is she too involved in I Love Lucy to notice? I can’t tell. I open the door to the studio so the dogs can run in there to bark. I close the door behind them. “Mom, your ride is here!”

7:40 am – I comb Mom’s hair in the back as she makes her way to the front door. I open the door for her. “You have a good day and I’ll see you when we get home. Tell Steve to have a good day, too. Night-night!” I wait until Mom makes the step down off the porch with her walker, then wave to the driver, Walt. I close the front door behind her. I let the dogs out of the studio. They run to bark at Walt through the front window. Now, it’s my turn to get ready for the day.