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A wonderful letter from Anjali
The Philosophy of Juice & Crackers
21 May 2015
I thought we had figured out a solution to the laundry problem. Once I started bringing her laundry to her in a laundry basket, rather than just leaving it on her bed, she stopped taking her clothes to the front desk saying they weren't hers. I was proud of myself for solving that problem. Apparently not.
When I got home from the book club yesterday, Walt let me know there was a message on the answering machine for me. It was a semi-ominous message saying she was calling about my mother, that everything was OK, but that I needed to talk with either the person leaving the message (I couldn't understand her name) or the nurse and that calling them the next day would be fine.
So I called in the morning and learned that my mother has ... twice ... brought sheets to the dining room to turn them over to someone. They thought I should know.
When I brought her laundry home to wash last week, I was pleased to see that it was a big bag. She has given me nothing but underwear for a month, and as she wears the same 3 outfits in rotation every day, surely they must need washing. But she refuses to give them to me because "they aren't dirty." But this was a hefty bag of laundry and I figured she had finally given me her clothes to wash.
But when I came home, I discovered there was only underwear and her sheets and pillow cases. What the heck...? She pays Atria to do her bedding. But I washed it and when I took everything back to her, she said that the housekeeper had not done her bed in two weeks (which I always don't believe since sometimes she thinks she has only been at Atria for a few months, so her concept of time is way off). I could see that trying to reason with her was an exercise in futility, so I just left the laundry basket with the sheets and her underwear on her bed, as I always do.
However, before I left, she gave me back the basket, which means that she left the folded sheets on the bed. Bad.
I figured out what probably happened was that the sheets were not in the basket, so she didn't know where they came from and thought she needed to take them somewhere and couldn't think of anywhere else to take them but...the dining room? Twice?
So I sat her down and told her we had to talk. I kind of laid it on thick to hopefully make an impression on her. I told her that I felt like I'd been called to the principal's office. I then told her what she had done and, of course, she has no memory of doing it.
But in the space of less than 5 minutes she had given me three or four different versions of what happened with the sheets, everything from she has no memory of ever seeing sheets, to finding them folded on her table and knowing that they belonged "somewhere" but she didn't know where (in none of versions did she remember taking them to the dining room, for any reason). She knows she herself has never changed her sheets, though two days before she had told me she had.
I tried to scare her and told her that I didn't want Atria to think her dementia was too bad for her to live in her apartment and that she would have to move, reminding her of when her mother, my sweet little old grandmother, had been kicked out of a rest home for behavior problems (though in her case it was for swearing like a sailor and knocking frail old people off their walkers!)
I tried to make a joke. I had brought her some lovely sunflowers, which she loved and would interrupt me to talk about how beautiful they were. I suggested that whenever she looked at the sunflowers, she should think of sheets. Kind of silly, but I thought maybe that would work. A few minutes later she looked at the sunflowers and said "I look at those flowers and I'm supposed to remember something, but I can't remember what." I said "the sheets." She said "what about the sheets?"
It's a lost cause, so if she gives me her sheets to wash again, I'll just put them in the linen closet when I bring them back. I tried that with her clothes, but she finds them and doesn't recognize them. Generic white sheets should be easier to "hide."
PHOTO OF THE DAY
I like to be sure my mother always has bright flowers around
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