Notes on Mom’s Visit
During the three and a half days mom spent at her Mainland home the following are a few of the things I took note of, not including the fact she now feels ambivalent regarding leasing her home here:
- When we arrived she looked in her back yard and wished out loud that she had gardening tools here. I pointed to the shelf, not 3 feet from where we stood, and showed her the gardening tools she’d purchased last time (July) she’d been here.
- She suddenly couldn’t find her keys. We were in the house, so I knew they couldn’t be too far away. I cheerfully suggested she look on shelves and in her coat pockets as that’s where my keys hide from me. She up ended her purse. I found them in the front door lock. The next day, she lost them again and was absolutely frantic about it. This time they were in her purse.
- Once I got home she called to say she couldn’t find her coat and would I check my car. Just as I was about to look in the car, where I knew it wasn’t, she found it in her bathroom.
- Mom told me her toaster oven no longer worked. I mistakenly suggested that she trouble shoot the outlet it was plugged into. Suddenly she believed she had an electrical problem. When she announced that her ‘radio’ didn’t work either, I thought she might be right. Upon personal inspection, there was nothing wrong with the toaster oven. She’d forgotten how to use it. We had a little toaster teaching session.
- The ‘radio’ in question was the stereo receiver. Indeed it was plugged into a faulty outlet. Once that was remedied, it still (as I suspected it wouldn’t without a serious antenna) didn’t pick up a radio signal. Mom maintained that she ‘always listens to that radio!’ I’ve learned not to have those arguments. I set up a nice Sony we aren’t using for her. I also showed her how to use the CD/DVD player but don’t expect her to retain those instructions.
- We, at mom’s instigation, had a sushi dinner at our favorite restaurant. It was awful. (Dinner was good.) Mom did her usual ‘complaining over the riches of a generous chef.’ She ordered octopus and groused about how huge the cut was.
- I responded with, ‘Yes, Sam is so generous.’
- She came back with, ‘Well, it’d be nice if the cuts were more standard!’
- This time I pulled a punch, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t come here again if that’s how you feel.’
- Mom said, ‘That’s not what I meant.’ That thread of the conversation was over
- One of the reasons mom was bitching about the size of the portions was she had no control over her chopsticks, which she kept calling ‘sticks.’ Rice was everywhere. As she said, for the 7th time, ‘I’ve Never had so much trouble with the/my sticks…’ she swept the growing pile of rice, to her right, off the table. My husband and I were speechless. Later that night we committed, again, to avoiding restaurants with mom at almost all costs. It feels terrible, but the experience is very seldom a good one. There’s nothing like dropping $100 on a meal during which your dinner companion complains about everything in sight.
- On our way to dinner, mom had to be prompted to put her seat belt on and then, as usual, had a very difficult time figuring out which buckle to use. I reached back to help her. It seemed that even with help and verbal direction she couldn’t ‘hear’ what the challenge was. The same thing happened when we headed home except that she spontaneously reached to put the seat belt on.
- Mom’s neighbor called me with concerned saying that she’d noticed a marked change in mom between 3pm and 6pm, during which time mom had stopped over 3-4 times. Terri said mom went from sounding completely lucid & sharp to being spacy, confused and sort of wandering, without recalling their prior conversations. I asked Terri, who has elder care experience, is it was too early in the evening to be sundowning? She didn’t think so.(Terri lifted my spirits by telling me my mom ‘says nice things about you.’)
- That same evening mom chose a day for me to take her back to the ferry terminal and then was clearly confused as to the current day of the week and what day we were going to head to the terminal, as she asked about both several times.
- On the ride back to the terminal, mom pulled a prepaid ferry ticket out of her wallet and asked me what the date was. The ticket had expired the day before. She asked if I thought it’d still be good. She did this twice. After the second time she shrugged and said it didn’t matter as the ticket only cost $5 or $6 dollars. It cost about $165 and is good for three round trips for a car and driver. The state (our ferries are run by the state) gives you a nice little discount if you buy your rides in bulk, but you’ve got to use them up by the ex date. Again, this is the sort of thing I’ve learned to let slide right on by. It serves no purpose to have mom understand she just tossed out some number of $55 round trip ferry rides.
- I asked mom to call me when she got home. She didn’t.