Sunday, August 19, 2012

Testify to Justify

One of the things that my mom will do is to ask us to make something for her.  She can never seem to just ask and leave it at that, though.  She always has to give a reason for asking.  It's gotten to the point that after 3 years of telling her she doesn't have to have a reason, we've given up.  She continues to justify her requests.  She will do the same thing when giving reasons for changing her mind or her plans.  Some of them have bordered on the ridiculous.

My mom practically lives in nightgowns.  If she gets dressed, it's usually in light weight clothing like a khaki skirt and a 3/4 sleeve top.  Not the best choices for someone who gets cold all year round!  This past winter I actually got her into sweats and it helped, but not all the time.  When she gets cold she usually wants a hot beverage or hot food.  She will ask me to make her some hot chocolate or hot coffee "because I'm so cold".  If I ask what she wants for dinner sometimes she'll ask for Ramen noodles.  "I want Ramen because I'm cold" or  "I want Ramen to warm me up".  She also uses being cold to have Cream of Wheat or soup.  It goes the other way, too.  "Could I have a milkshake?, my throat is parched" or "Do you have any Sprite?, my throat is hot".  She wants ice cream with Craisins because she heard cranberries were good for you.  I asked her if she just wanted a handful of Craisins.  Silly me, she was justifying the ice cream!  I told her once that she need not give reasons to explain her requests.  That if she wants or needs something, then just ask.  Period.  She continues to justify.

She's canceled doctors' appointments weeks ahead because someone is expected to visit.  Now the visit wouldn't coincide with the appointment.  In fact, the visit is either planned for days before or days after.  I actually canceled an appointment for her once because we were having company the following month!  It's as if she can't multi-task even if it's weeks apart.  The other day after I washed her hair she mentioned that she would've had me do it the day before except it was Alex's birthday.  Alex would've been asleep then as he was when I did do her hair!  She also gives explanations for not getting up, not taking a shower, not walking with her walker, but being pushed in the wheelchair.  She said once that she had removed her hearing aid at 6 because she'd be going to 8!  She then proceeded to be yelled at by everyone for 2 hours since she couldn't hear!  Then she complained that we were yelling at her.  Oy vey!

I figure that these moments will be talked about in my family long after my mother is gone.  It may frustrate us now, but it is an endearment and we know it.  When we remember how she did these things, we will smile.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pants on Fire

It's bad enough when you deal with children when their main objective is to avoid their parents' disapproval over things they've done.  You expect and anticipate dishonesty, half-truths and little white lies from children because they are children.  At some point in the child-rearing process, parents get past that stage and are rewarded with a more open and honest relationship with young adults.  That's where Steve and I are with Alex and Taylor.  We nurtured them in such a way as to foster communication and that led to their ability to trust us enough to be honest in most situations.  They were raised to believe they could talk to us about anything no matter the subject or serious nature. At times we had to control our emotions for fear of spooking them when they told us about concerns.  As young adults they have talked to us about things I couldn't ever have imagined before they were born.  So when my parents moved in with us it was hard to adjust given the level of dishonesty I had to deal with.  My parents fib often.  Sometimes it is really frustrating. 

At first I thought that the lying was a result of being here.  That they were being willful about having to follow certain guidelines that we have for doing things here. Recently my brother told me about his experiences with it before they left Ohio.  He said, 
"It had become painfully apparent for their last two years in Bexley the viability of remaining there was totally untenable and I was becoming very scared.  This was exacerbated by discovering numerous 'cover-ups' and deceptions by them (you can just imagine - yes?) which they engaged in because 'We didn't want to worry you!'   More of that 'keeping up appearances' horseshit!  On occasion, I would find out a day or two later one of them had been rushed to the hospital. Or, they would call and ask me to come get them home after they had been rushed to the hospital the night before! Those requests often came around 6am on a workday for me. I, fortunately, have "sick leave" which includes caring for family members." 
Apparently, Bill & Sue knew much of what Steve & I had just learned soon after my parents moved here.  Knowing that it had been going on in Ohio is actually a relief.  It tells me that it's a sign of aging not necessarily obstinacy.  However, we have had our share of having to deal with untruthfulness.

One Sunday I was in the shower when Steve heard my Dad call out my name.  He went to see what they needed or wanted.  My mom just waved him off by saying she didn't need anything.  He asked them if they were ready for lunch, but got no response from either one.  He was determined to get an answer about calling out to me, but neither one volunteered any comment.  Steve then looked at my dad and said, "Well I'm perplexed!".  My dad said, "Okay" without a hint of emotion.  Once I came upstairs, he told me of the exchange so I went to my parents' room to inquire about them calling out to me.  My mother looked right at me and said they didn't call for me.  When I reminded her about Steve, she then said that they just wanted to know if I was in the living room so they could come watch TV.  What???  She did not!  When I asked her why they didn't respond to his inquiry about their lunch, she looked right at me and said, "We did!  We said we weren't ready for it yet".  At that point all I could do was roll my eyes because any further discussion would just frustrate me.  So I dropped it like I usually do.

Just like I did with the pee pitcher.  That's right, I said pee pitcher!  As explained in an earlier post, my mother has decided that walking a few feet to the bathroom is just too much trouble. Even though she is able-bodied.  She started doing it in Ohio.  When I mentioned about her doing here she waved me off saying that she wasn't going to do it anymore.  Really??  No, not really.  Soon after they moved in we found a ceramic pitcher in a desk drawer with trace amounts of urine in it.  I know one thing, that pitcher will NEVER be used as a pitcher again!!  She actually thought that laying her bed jacket on top of it would keep me from finding out.  Steve confronted her about it and she just stared at him and said nothing.  Then she started talking about something else completely unrelated to the pee pitcher.  Steve rolled his eyes and gave up.  We have a lot of eye-rolling moments around here.

Another issue that elicits dishonesty around here is the subject of hand washing.  Soon after my parents moved in we noticed that they would exit the powder room in the upstairs hallway as soon as we heard the toilet flush which could only mean one thing.  They weren't washing their hands.We also noticed that they would sometimes turn the water on in the sink, but it would run for literally 3-4 seconds.  Not nearly long enough to kill or clean anything!  We were reluctant to say anything to them because they might resent it and feel like we were spying on them.  After several instances of the quick exits, though, I decided that I had no choice.  I reminded them of the dangers of germ-y hands.  Both said that they were washing their hands.  I knew that changing their behavior was a losing proposition so I decided to be proactive and assume their hands remained germ-y.  I placed sanitizer dispensers in all the bathrooms.  We also started wiping down the entire house with Lysol wipes.  Anything they touched was wiped with anti-bacterial solution.  It seems to be working.  None of us has been sick since they moved here, including them. 

Another hygiene issue for my parents was/is bathing.  My mother would look straight at me and swear she took showers often, just not everyday.  I knew this was not true.  When she did get in the shower the water would literally run for less than 3 minutes!  I knew this because I'd time it.  When she emerged from her bathroom I asked her how she could get clean that quickly.  I never got a definitive answer.  So you know what I did?  Yep, I rolled my eyes and dropped the subject.  When we had bathing assistants here for a few weeks earlier this year I voiced my concern about the showers.  Both nurses showed my mom (and dad) the proper way to shower.  My dad showers about once a week.  I was thrilled if mom showered once a month!  Lately I've been helping her, so I hope to get her bathed more often.  Good hygiene trumps any discomfort I may have about bathing her.

I could give more examples of these types of situations, but it never ends.  Reminds me of a song that Sherry Lewis had on her show Lamb Chop's Play-Along called "The song that never ends".
This is the song that never ends.
Yes, it goes on and on my friends.
Some people started singing it not knowing what it was,
And they'll continue singing it forever just because...
This is the song that never ends.
Yes, it goes on and on my friends.
Some people started singing it not knowing what it was,
And they'll continue singing it forever just because, Etc.

On and on it goes.  But just as with a lot of conflicts, you sometimes have to choose your battles.  It doesn't help to win the battle and lose the war.  As long as my parents are comfortable, pain-free and safe I can deal with the attempts to deceive.  I cannot imagine living that long just to have someone almost half your age controlling every decision or condition in your life.  Someday, if I am lucky, I may understand more fully their reasons for the behavior.