Sunday, August 29, 2010

Patience Is a Virtue...

But impatience is another symptom of dementia!

Witness what Grandma did to a box of tissues when she couldn't find the tab to open them.

When I questioned her on this attack she said, "Well how am I supposed to know?"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Upstairs, Downstairs

One of the symptoms of dementia is increased aggression or irritability. Grandma has always been feisty, so with the dementia she has irritability by the truckload! No one causes her more rage than the tenants upstairs. These poor people can do nothing right in Grandma's book.

For starters, they had the audacity and poor taste to name
their daughter Anna. For most people this name is not a problem, but for Grandma it is a huge affront and she keeps threatening to "set them straight" about it.

If it is loud upstairs, "It's 9:00 and they got their kid running around! And he drops his shoes on the floor! They need to get rugs! I'm gonna tell them and hit them over the head." If it is quiet upstairs, you think Grandma would be happy and relish in it. Oh no. She still has something to say. "I think they're not home. You think they'd tell me when they go away!"

The garbage is another sore spot. Grandma has a weird system where she has a large garbage can with a bag, but does not use it. She uses a small shopping bag on the back door OR a small shopping bag within the large bag that she transfers to the bag on the door. What? For some reason, Grandma obsesses over the amount of garbage the tenants put out. I'm not sure why this is an issue, the city collects it twice a week. She has decided that the tenants both work at a supermarket (dubious information at best) and that they sneak garbage home!
"Grandma, why would they bring home garbage?"
"Because! The supermarket has to pay for pick up and it's free here."
I don't know where she came up with this theory or see any logic behind it. The supermarket is a large chain. I'm sure they can handle their sanitation fees. Plus, the "extra" garbage the tenants put on the curb is typically about two bags. How much garbage could they really be smuggling home? And why would they do that anyway?

Perhaps predictably, the tenants incite the most wrath when they use the clothesline You know that Grandma is very particular about how clothes are hung. She has a system and expects everyone to adhere to it. The tenants' hanging skills are so bad that it's almost delightful. Half the time they don't even use clothespins, they just fold the clothes over the line! Which brings us to today's raging in the yard:
"I only do the wash on Mondays. They've got the whole week to do laundry!"
"It's Thursday, Grandma."
"Look at this! You can't hang like that! It'll never dry. You can't put things on the top and bottom line. They're gonna wear out my line! It's old!"
"Dad just bought you a new line."
"Well, I don't mind if they use my line, but they need to stop abusing it! I can't even say anything to her. She don't speak English."

And for that language barrier, thank God!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sweet Talk

Grandma has been driving me a little crazy lately. In addition to all the normal absurdities and repetitions, some of her new activities include putting foil in the microwave and taking apart the stove. Do you know what happens when you put foil in the microwave? It goes up in flames!!! But, thanks to Grandma's tinkering with the stove I now know how to put a gas burner back in place. That's gotta be a useful skill, right?

Luckily for Grandma, she can be very cute. Spend any amount of time with Grandma and you will know that she's lost a lot of weight, 18 pounds to be exact. She tells everyone she sees, every day. Relatives, neighbors, doctors, hairdressers, waiters. She started telling our handyman, "I lost a lot of weight, you know."
And he could finish her sentence! "18 pounds, right?"

We're trying to get Grandma to eat more and her sweet tooth is often the easiest way to do it. I brought home some cupcakes the other day and they were a hit. One was red velvet. At first it got a big fat "Never heard of it!" but Grandma's curiosity and sweet tooth overpowered that uncertainty. She quickly changed her tune to, "Oh, that's good." The second cupcake was a simple yellow cake with buttercream frosting, but it had the bonus of a little clown face made of sugar. Grandma could not handle it! She kept chuckling, "I never saw something so cute! Where'd you get it?" She did this three times in a row, so clearly it was very exciting.

The cupcakes are gone, so I brought home a tin of chocolate truffles. Grandma found them on the table after her nap. "What are these?"
"Oh, I bought them for you. They're chocolates."
"For me?"
"You like chocolate, right?"
"I love candy!"

Grandma usually expresses all emotion in swats and pats. Some are affectionate, some are because you're being fresh, some are because you just happen to be within swatting range. So what she did next was very unexpected. She gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and said, "Well thank you. I really appreciate it."

Wax on, wax off

Grandma is cracking herself up! Today she was reading an article about the proposed mosque near Ground Zero. Her article included a list of other businesses in the area and this is where it gets fun.

She reads aloud, "And 17 separate salons where girls can get their lady parts groomed."

"Ha! I didn't even know there was such a thing! This is hot stuff!"

Let's all hope she forgets this article before her next visit to the hair salon.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Never Heard of It! volume 4

The other day I made a very healthy and delicious dinner of basil flavored couscous, zucchini, tomatoes, and mozzarella. As usual, Grandma is very suspicious of any activity in the kitchen. She's watching me chop things and heat up the couscous.

"What are you making?"

I figured saying "couscous" would be a total lost cause, clearly something that would fall swiftly into the category of "Never Heard of It!" So, I thought I'd fudge things a bit and put it in terms she'd understand, like when I called risotto Rice-a-Roni. I decided couscous, in Grandma-friendly terms, should be called pasta salad.

"Pasta salad? Never heard of it!"

What? How has she never heard of pasta salad? It's a staple of picnics! There are a million varieties! How can something like pasta salad get such a resounding "Never heard of it!"?

As usual, this scene repeats itself five minutes later.

"Pasta salad? Never heard of it!"

This time around I am feeling a little sassy, and frankly, impatient. "You never heard of pasta salad? You need to get out more!"

This gets me some swats and a "Oooh! You're fresh!"

Grandma turned out to be quite a fan of this mysterious "pasta salad" though. She went back for seconds and then ate the rest of the leftovers in the pan.

On to a more serious topic...

Recent Thefts:
oven mitts
my frying pan

These are pretty interesting things for Aunt Dee to steal because she doesn't cook! Ever! What's extra frustrating though, when I asked Grandma what happened to my frying pan, the extra large one that she always, always comments on, she said, "A large frying pan? Well I never saw one. Aunt Dee must have taken it."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Never Heard of It! volume 3

Yesterday I was getting ready to go out.

"Where you going?"
"Out to dinner with some friends."
"That's nice. What are you gonna have?"
"Japanese food, sushi."
"Never heard of it! What's that like?"
"You probably won't like it. It's rice..."
"And raw fish."

Seriously folks, this is maybe the loudest I've ever heard Grandma! She physically recoiled at the mention of raw fish and jumped about three feet away. Then she proceeded to walk back and forth through the kitchen as if she had to get away from this horrible image of raw, stinking fish.

"Oh, golly! Raw fish?!?! That is not for me!!! Ugh!"

On top of me grossing her out with tales of sushi, poor Grandma has had to deal with more thefts. She kept moving the hammock stand, which means that the pieces dislodge and the whole thing falls apart. So, I moved the pieces into the basement so they wouldn't get rusty while I was traveling. Today Grandma says very gravely, "I have that nice hammock to use, but Aunt Dee stole the stand!"

This is one of the saddest parts of dementia. There's often times where Grandma's logic and reason are just gone, but she's still got plenty of righteous anger to let out. Why would Aunt Dee steal the hammock stand, but not the hammock? She doesn't even have a backyard! These things don't occur to Grandma. For some reason her mind has locked on to the idea that my aunt steals things and that's how it is. So give us back our hammock stand!