caring for a grandchild, Caring for a parent, conversations, Dementia, in-home care, memory loss

Plus, I’m Out of Granola

I had a great day with my main man on Monday. I haven’t seen him for a month. He played hooky from day care and spent the day with his Gigi. I swear he said “Gigi” once, too. He would beg to differ, since he repeatedly avoided saying it on demand. “No,” he said, when I asked him if he could. “No” has been his best word since forever. He has added “mine” as a new favorite since I last saw him. Thank you for that, daycare. But now I’m back home, where “no” and “mine” are sort of the way things are here, too; if not more subtle.

IMG_0761I went to bed Monday, upset over a connective (technology) issue on top of an interactive (relationship) irritation. Usually sleep will clear my head and heart; but I woke up in tears, thinking if I could figure out another option—any option—for my life, I would be developing a new plan at this very moment. But I can’t think of one, and I feel so stuck.

A friend sent me a poem that I read after I finally got reconnected to the internet:

I want to peel off a hundred-dollar bill
and slap it down on the counter.
You can pick out a dress. I’ll pick out a tie: polka-dots
spinning like disco balls. Darling, let’s go
two-stepping in the sawdust at the Broken Spoke…
Let’s live in a cardboard box
You can go from one state to another and never
paint the same thing twice… (Matthew Dickman)

These lines of the much longer work thrummed through me; bringing to mind the connectivity I have become slave to, along with the desire to paint a new picture. I love the internet for providing me the ability to stay connected when so much of the time these days I feel completely separated and lost from the world. But sometimes I wish it would inexplicably shut down and people would have to learn to live in the neighborhood again (and not have to deal with brokenness and stupid arbitrary changes). That’s not really today’s story, but it’s part of a longing for simplicity—and nothing is.

IMG_0745When I belatedly greeted Mama Tuesday morning just before the Hospice nurse was due, after dealing with the connectivity issues, I learned the nurse couldn’t come, but will come Wednesday—when I’m not here. I missed her call to me, so she called Mama, who told her yes.

“But,” I note, “you have a manicure appointment on the calendar for Wednesday. Do you want to cancel it?”

“I don’t want to cancel it,” Mama says, “because I need a haircut, too.”

“Did you tell them that?” I ask. (She cut her own hair last week, they are going to love that.)

“No,” she says. “Michelle can call and ask when she gets here. Maybe the nurse can come on Thursday. Do I have anything else on Thursday?”

“Thursday is her day off,” I tell her; “and I made an appointment a few minutes ago for your flu shot since we’ll be in Chehalis to look at blinds and go to lunch.” (Don’t get me started on the blinds, just know that I finally surrendered after months of discouraging her because I know she won’t be satisfied.)

“Friday, then,” she says. “Do I have anything else on Friday?”

“The ENT in the afternoon,” I say, which is in Olympia—a major excursion—and was made to replace the hearing aide remote that was lost but now is found but she wants to keep the appointment because maybe this time there will be a magic fix for her profound hearing loss.

“And,” I tell her, “since you cancelled the [Hospice volunteer] reader last week, she’s not on the schedule yet.” (She cancelled the Hospice volunteer because the reader from the church was coming. She cancelled him because the Hospice volunteer was coming. She didn’t ask for help.)

“Or is it this week she isn’t coming?” Mama asks.

“No, it was last week.” (We have had this conversation.)

“And when is my ENT appointment?”


“And when is my flu shot?”


“That’s three things on Thursday. That’s too much.”

“The bath aide is coming early,” I say, knowing she has forgotten about her, “but you will want a shower anyway, she will just be here to help. I made the flu shot appointment because we will be in Chehalis anyway to look at blinds. We don’t have to look at blinds, though, if that’s too much; and we don’t have to go to lunch. Or I can reschedule the flu shot.” (I know that is too much information, even as I say it.)

“But when is the ENT? I thought that was Thursday.”

“That’s on Friday.”

“Is that all that’s on Friday?”


“When is the nurse coming?

“Wednesday, if we cancel your manicure.”

“And what else is Wednesday?”

“You said you wanted the reader to come in the afternoon.”

“Isn’t the ENT that afternoon?”

“No, it’s on Friday. Can we cancel the manicure on Wednesday so the nurse can come?”

“I don’t want to change the manicure if I can get a haircut at the same time. If I can’t, you can cancel the manicure.”

Michelle arrives and deals with the salon. I deal with the Hospice appointments.

IMG_0738“No haircut until Friday. Is that okay? And keep the nurse on Wednesday?”

“What else is on Friday?”

“The ENT in the afternoon.”

“I thought that was on Thursday.”

I expect the Hospice social worker and the chaplain to call back any hour now to make an appointment for this week, because I put them off when they called a few days ago. But I don’t tell Mama that.


I spent more than an hour on this “painting”—along with going through Mama’s extensive collection of greeting cards to find a birthday card for her grandson and miraculously finding one that satisfied her—finally going back to my downstairs quarters at 10:15 for a delayed breakfast. That’s when I remembered I had polished off the dregs of my granola on Saturday because I haven’t been to the grocery store in Olympia for two weeks and the Centralia grocery doesn’t carry the kind I like. I ate a granola bar with chocolate (dark) and called it breakfast.

Last week Mama implied I don’t do much in exchange for all I get by living here that I don’t have to pay for. “Oh, I pay for it,” I said.


P.S. Please know, dear readers, that my relating of this story is not meant to ridicule or berate, but only to be a tale of life with an old-old.

Note: You can find a story I wrote on class reunions—my 45th in particular—for the local paper here.IMG_0749

10 thoughts on “Plus, I’m Out of Granola”

  1. Sigh. Makes me tired.The business partner I stupidly attached myself to years ago is the bane of my existence, haunts my dreams, and is the reason I am now determined to sell my otherwise promising business. My conversations with him are similarly circular and illogical. At least I don’t have to live with him! 🙂 And I don’t mean to imply that devotion to caring for an aging parent is equivalent to enduring a perpetually incompetent supposed partner… I did a relative to yours, short stent in that child-caring-for-parent role… but I can totally relate to the absolute frustration and incredulity of the situation. You have my continued respect, admiration, and support for the path that you are walking with your very lucky, if unaware, mom.


    1. She is so freaking lucky. I guess. If I hadn’t come, she would have gone to assisted living and probably died, or declined to the point of not knowing she wasn’t dead. Maybe that would have been better. Maybe I did her no favor. I’m so sorry about your business partner. And it is not nonequivalent. It’s a feeling of being stuck. Is doing something different going to be better? I don’t know. And how does one extract themself? I’m sure it’s scary to contemplate for you; and impossible to come up with what something different would be for me.


    1. And it gives me great pleasure to know I am not alone either. But it does feel so lonely, doesn’t it? I need to gather a physical group. I’m in a dementia group, but most of the participants are caring for a husband–which would be so much worse–but it’s not the same dynamic.


  2. oh, I remember this so well. Profound short term memory loss: “what day is it?” “Is it Monday?” “Mom, what day is it?” “What day is today?” in the span of about 90 seconds. not ridicule or criticize or ‘un-love’. Just how it is.


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