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.


Laundry Day


Actually, I don’t have a single laundry day. Any day, and sometimes, it seems like, every day, is laundry day at our house.

As Mom’s difficulties with incontinence increased (well, actually, it’s my difficulties with Mom’s incontinence – she really doesn’t seem to care one way or the other), I had to find solutions to odor control. I tried borax, vinegar, pet odor control stuff. Bleach probably would have worked, but it would also have steadily destroyed all Mom’s clothes.

What actually works is the original Lysol liquid concentrate. It does have a very disinfectant smell, which my husband doesn’t care for, but it is oh, so preferable to the alternatives. I always had to search for it on the top shelf in the laundry section, and our local grocery eventually stopped stocking it altogether. Now, I order it by the 6-bottle case from Amazon. In 2015, I ordered a case in January and again in May. In 2016, I bought cases in January, May, September, and December. Looks like I’m up to a couple of bottles per month.

Lots of laundry at our house.

Sartorial Selections


Mom has a closet filled with comfy clothing. In order for her to choose something from her closetful of clean shirts and pants, I have to hide (i.e. place in her hamper) her clothes from the day before. She just doesn’t understand why she can’t wear the same outfit again and again. It’s so much easier!

She especially doesn’t understand why she should worry about wearing clean socks, and doesn’t like taking the trouble to walk the extra five steps from the closet to the dresser to fetch them. To keep me from making off with them, she has taken to hiding her socks from me, behind the decorative pillow she won at Bingo a few weeks ago.

Since, for me, out of sight is truly out of mind, she succeeds more often than I’d like to admit.

Just Another Tuesday Morning


I round the corner into the living room and see Mom coming out of her bedroom, housedress hanging open, entering the bathroom. “Good morning!” she says.

Since she is already out of her gown, I head into her room, expecting a wet bed needing to be stripped and linens laundered. I find the wet bed, topped by the wet gown, with the added bonus of a giant puddle between the bed and closet, trodden in and tracked to the bathroom. Her slippers will need washing, too, then.

I take the towel from the couch (left there from Sunday’s incident, to cover the cushions damp from the odor-eating enzyme spray), and throw it over the puddle before heading to the laundry room for the dirty-clothes basket. As I pass the bathroom, Mom appears at the door, sans disposable briefs, and asks me to snap her housedress closed. She was able to do it yesterday; why not this morning? Rhetorical question.

She points out that the floor is all wet. I ask if she changed her briefs last night before bed. She says yes. I ask if she tried to pee before bed. She says no. I tell her to always pee before bedtime. She nods. We’ve had this conversation before.

As I snap her housedress, she asks me how old my brother is for his birthday today. I yell, “62”. She says, “57?” I repeat, “62”, this time holding up six fingers and then two fingers in succession. She says, “57”? I yell “62” and flail my fingers around a couple more times, until she says “Okay.”

“Okay, what?”

“Okay, whatever you said.”

I give up and go back to stripping the bed. We’ll use the whiteboard later.

I take the overflowing basket to the laundry room and return with the swiffer to mop her bedroom floor, the trail, and into the bathroom. By this time, she has made it to the table, where I had placed her coffee on one of my passes through the kitchen, and calls out to me to ask for her medicine. I yell that I am cleaning up and to please wait a minute.

I finish with the mop and head back to the laundry room to start the washer. She asks for her medicine. I yell, “Just a minute.”

I let the dogs out, change out of the robe that by now is way too warm, and come back to the dining room for her med box. She asks for her medicine again. I yell, “Give me a minute!” She tells me, “Never mind.”

Now, I yell not just for volume, but in anger and frustration, about all the things I had to do to clean up her room and how I can’t just give her her meds because I have to stand by to watch her so she doesn’t drop any on the floor for the dogs to get, all the while knowing that she can’t really hear anything I’m saying, only that she knows that I’m angry and yelling. I lean against the wall and take a couple of deep breaths.

I give her her meds. The dogs are barking from the backyard. I watch to make sure she takes every pill and doesn’t drop anything to her lap or the floor. I let the dogs in.

I finally get to fill my coffee cup. It’s 6:55 a.m.