Surreal Moments thanks to aging parents

Please tell me I’m not the only one having to deal with things like this…

I just had to call a local barbecue restaurant and ask them to stop looking through their garbage for my mother’s lost dentures. She forgot that she put them in her cell phone case before she ate lunch.

Why did I call? Because she wasn’t going to. “Well, I left your phone number for them to call. But it’s not like they’re going to find anything anyway!” My stars, I hope not. Can you imagine? If having to ferry her teeth wasn’t bad enough. What if they had found *someone else’s * teeth and I had to go retrieve them?!? <<shudder>>

Excuse me, I’m going to go floss now.

My mom had to drive her elderly mom from north central Alabama to Raleigh North Carolina. Because grandma took so long to get ready, they didn’t leave until 10 AM. So, on the trip, grandma decides that they’d put in a good days driving and had mom stop at the next hotel. It was 3 PM. The trump reason that she gave for “Having” to stop was that the Braves were due to play and she had to watch. This from a woman who had never watched a ball game of any kind in her life. But this was the season that the braves were kicking ass and she heard about it. Of course we all knew the real reason they had to stop: grandma liked to exercise a high degree of control and manipulation.

My mother’s mother had Alzheimer’s, so these are surreal but sad:

Once, Mom came in to her bedroom and found her pawing through all the drawers. Mom asked, “What are you looking for?” Grandma said, “I’m looking for the keys to the car.” Grandma had given up her driver’s license years ago, so Mom asked, “What car?” Grandma said, “The keys to the car that I stole!”

When we went to visit her in the hospital once, she apologized to us, because she thought she had walked into the wrong house.

Another time in the hospital, she said to the nurse, “I need to go home before the baby is born.” The nurse asked her, “Whose baby? Are you expecting a grandchild or a great-grandchild?” Grandma said, “No, it’s my baby!” The nurse asked her how old she was, and she said “87, but what has that got to do with it?”

The idea of them finding someone else’s teeth is hilarious and disgusting, and seems improbable, but I once read an article about the Lost and Found at Disney, and how they get glass eyes and artificial limbs there. How do you not notice you lost your leg on Splash Mountain?

At the grocery store, I would sometimes find canes left in the carts. I used to wonder if the person noticed that they were falling down a lot more often.

My good friends just moved their Mom from Kansas to Texas, to a retirement/ nursing home near her (other) daughter. Mom’s highly confused, so they figured that plane travel would be a nightmare. That meant driving 15 hours, from Kansas to Texas, with Mom asking every 10 minutes: “Where are we going?”, “Where are you taking me?”, and “Aren’t we there yet?”

Worst family trip ever. In retrospect, sedating her for a plane trip would have been a better option.

Grandma had a stroke.

My sister was visiting my parents, and saw grandma out in the yard (she lived on a doublewide on the farm) with no shirt on spouting gibberish. Really mumbling dog face to the banana patch. Sis called 911, and got a blanket around Grandma, waiting for the ambulance. It took her about ten minutes to get back her ability to speak, but inexplicably, she ended every sentence with “Piano, Piano, Piano” for about a week afterward.

It’s kind of become a running joke in my family now. Whenever anyone feels like they are not being listened to, or someone is only paying marginal attention, they will end a sentence with “PIano, Piano, Piano” and it usually works.

The setting: Around a candlelit dinner table in Africa while on a safari.

The Cast of Characters: Me, My grandmother, fellow travelers.

The conversation:

Traveler 1 (to me): Where did you go to college? I’m trying to read your shirt.

Me :??? <looks at shirt, realizes that what sounds like a nonsequitor was caused by a bad guess about what the large word on my sweatshirt was likely to mean. And in fairness, it wasn’t an unlikely guess, just a wrong one>

(Outloud): Huh? I went to college at <name of school> but my shirt says Cherokee.

Grandmother: It doesn’t mean anything. Not that theirs anything wrong with being Cherokee.

Me: Actually, I am part Cherokee.

(Note: I bought the shirt because it was a nice thick sweatshirt which was 75% off. Not because of what it said. And in normal conversation, I probably wouldn’t have brought up my slight Cherokee heritage–unless the conversation turned to genealogy.)

<here’s the surreal part>

Grandmother: What? Where did that come from? It certainly didn’t come from me or your grandfather–who was German.

<Where do you think it came from? If it didn’t come from you, it must have come from the other side of the family, duh>

Me: It came from my mother’s side. My grandmother’s grandmother was Cherokee.

Grandmother: Well, I never heard that before.

<Incidently, this is possible. It isn’t that it’s a secret, it’s more a case that we just don’t have enough Cherokee heritage to make it a big deal, and I’m not even sure we have any proof. And discussions of genealogy with my grandmother involved are more likely to focus on her interesting ancestors. And her memory was getting flakey (and has gotten worse since) so even if she’d heard she might have forgotten. Still, I was startled and amused that she was so confused about where I could have gotten Cherokee blood.>

More minorly, but more in keeping with the OP, my grandmother has regretted deciding to give my brother her car. She’s not sure what she’d do with it if she still had it–and it wasn’t running when it was taken away, fixed up, and driven to my brother’s house–but she wishes she still had it.

And for a while she was under the impression that only Maryland didn’t think she could drive safely. She happened to be living in Maryland, and had lost her driver’s license through a combination of a incorrect diagnosis of Alzheimers and an inability to remember President Reagan (Name the last three presidents in chronological order). This is the flip recounting, but the reality is that at the time she lost her license, she should not have been driving. At the time her car was taken away, it had ceased to be functional through a significant dose of benign neglect, and the fact that she didn’t know where her car keys were.

My in-laws once drove my FIL’s stepmother from Ohio to West Virginia on a trip.

Apparently, Grandma was not one to kick up a fuss. She would just wait for you to notice her.

So, at 6 in the morning, they wake up to find her fully dressed and sitting on the edge of their bed. They ask her why she’s up so early.

“It’s time for breakfast.”

So, they get up and drive to three different restaurants before they find one that serves oatmeal, because that’s all she will eat for breakfast.

Then, back on the road to West Virginia, my FIL looks in the rear view mirror to see that Grandma has a bandana over her head. He asks why.

“Because you have the window rolled down and it’s mussing up my hair.”

So, obligingly, FIL rolls up the window and turns on the AC. A bit later, MIL looks back to see that Grandma has bundled herself up in a blanket. Again, WHY?

“Because the AC is making me chilly.”

She just would never speak up. Period. I guess she didn’t want to impose.

Before the Alzheimer’s monster really got it’s claws into him, my grandfather continued to work for several hours a day in his garage workshop. He came in for dinner one day followed by an obviously stray Siamese cat.

My grandmother, knowing of his lifelong dislike of cats, asked him about his new pet.

“Oh, this is my little dog. Don’t you remember?” my grandfather answers.

He procedes to feed the cat half his dinner, and my grandmother puts it outside, expecting him to forget all about it.

Next day, the cat is back in the workshop with grandpa, and damned if he didn’t act like a faithful little dog for the next two years, following him everywhere, sleeping on his bed, until my grandather was too far gone to notice anything. He always insisted it was his little dog that he’s had for years (he had never had one before), and that cat stayed right by his side until the day he died.

My grandmother figured that since he knew he hated cats but loved this stray, it had to be a dog, right?

The whole Alzheimer’s thing is pretty damned surreal anyway, so this was just one of the very few nice things that happened. He’d been lonely for years since his best friend died, and that he found a new best friend right at the end was a small bright spot for everyone in the family.

Why impose when you can be a martyr? Honestly, some people seem to think that they’re racking up ecclesiastical “suffering points.” My elderly aunt would rather stand naked in the snow than come in uninvited. Personally, I think it’s a bit of a holier-than-thou attitude.

Not necessarily. My husband’s grandmother absolutely, positively didn’t want to be a bother. At all. Ever. She knew she was old and slow and she had special needs, but she’d spent her life caring for everyone else, and she just couldn’t *stand * that she had to rely on others for anything. I can’t help but wonder if she gave up and died because she couldn’t bear not being able to do for others.

Maybe she’s a vampire!

Alzheimer’s is a bitch.

My mother’s driving had gotten more erratic and we weren’t sure what to do, then luckily something went wrong with the car and left mom stranded one day. After having the car towed to the garage she always used, we talked the manager into telling her it wasn’t worth repairing the problem, and that she should buy a new car. So every day for a loooong while we had to tell her, yes, we’ll help you go shopping for a new used car— tomorrow, since today was too hot/cold/cloudy/windy/rainy/busy/etc. (Meanwhile we had the car repaired and sold.)

This lasted for months. Then she forgot about the car being ‘totaled’, and when she collected the mail she realized the car was gone, concluded it was stolen, and called the Police to report the crime. :smack:

As soon as we learned about this we explained to the police department (small town) and I guess they put a note in the log or something. Because almost every day for over two years she’d ‘discover’ the car was stolen and report it, and the guy on the telephone would tell her they were very busy with a critical case at the moment, but someone would be out ‘later’ to get her report.

I thought it was awfully nice of the PD to play along.

Mrs. Mercotan’s late grandma (just died a year ago) lost her hearing aid a few years back, at a restaurant. She had them search high and low for it but they didn’t find it.

The next day she nuked up her leftover spaghetti from the restaurant, and chowed down, only to bite into her hearing aid.

But she was right that she’d lost it at the restaurant!

Another Alzheimer’s incident:

My mother would frequently call me and say, “I know this is a stupid question, but is Nana dead?” (Nana was her mother and died in 1979.) At first, I’d try to remind her of details of the funeral to jog her memory, but eventually, I just started saying, “Yes, mom. Nana’s dead.” The response was usually, “Thank God! I’ve been afraid that she was in a home somewhere and I was supposed to be feeding her and taking care of her.”

And a surreal moment with my dad, who was blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other (really! Lost the sight in one eye in cataract-surgery-gone-wrong and had a severe cataract on the “good” eye.) Mom had asked us to go to the corner market to pick up a quart of strawberries. Dad went in to do the shopping while I waited in the car. He returned, bag in hand. “Did you get them?” I asked. “Yep! And they’re real beauties, too!” He handed me the bag. I reached into it and pulled out a quart of cherry tomatoes.

Grandma stopped driving about 10 years ago, so Mom takes her grocery shopping every Saturday afternoon. Many times Grandma wants to return a food item. Not because she bought the wrong thing or because it wasn’t fresh, but because she tried it and decided she didn’t like it.

One day Grandma returned an opened package of cheese to Publix. Mom stood a little bit away from the customer service desk and listened to Grandma berate the poor employee for sellling such a horrible, disgusting product. The employee gave Grandma a full refund (probably to get rid of her – Grandma gets more refunds that way). When Mom guided Grandma down the dairy aisle a few minutes later, Grandma picked up the exact same product and said “oh, this looks really good!” It took Mom 10 minutes to convince Grandma that it was the same product she’d just returned.

Another time, during a holiday dinner, Grandma announced that she was going to sue the makers of Friskies Cat Food. Since Grandma’s last name rhymes with Friskie, she believed the company was defaming her. (“They’re saying I’m frisky!”)

Family dinners have become a lot more bearable now that we’ve secretly turned Grandma’s oddities into a drinking game.

Yeah, well, couple of years ago my father was in the hospital, dying actually, although slowly, from cardiovascular disease. So the ol’ brain was not getting all the oxygen it really needed. Plus he was on some post-op painkillers. He thought I was my late mother, and made *all kinds * of very specific and detailed suggestions as to what we should do together after we left this “restaurant,” and got back home. Things that might have been entirely o.k. to say to one’s wife, but NOT to one’s daughter. I still get creeped out just thinking about it.

Another dentures story.

My mother was in the middle of a long hospitalization and I visited every weekend from my home 240 miles away. During one visit, she asked me to take her dentures with her because she was on a liquid-only diet and was moving from room to room a lot and didn’t want them to get lost. So took them, tucked them in my bag, and promptly forgot I had them. (Not all memory problems can be attributed to age!) I returned home Sunday night and the next day got a frantic call from my aunt that Mom was going back on solid food and needed her teeth right away! So I had to run to the post office and have her teeth sent overnight express.

She took out her dentures before eating lunch at a barbecue joint? For God’s sake, why? Did she just order sauce?