Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Last month, I, and other bloggers, commented on both the "sucky" and the "sick" nature of September.

Well, as it turns out, I should have focused on October, because I've been sick for most of it.

I've had an epic cold for almost three weeks. I've run the gamut from soul-destroying sore throat, accompanied by chills, fatigue and the dreaded GM, followed closely on by phlegm, snot and sneezes galore, topped off with a generous helping of coughing, nose-blowing (Argh, my poor, sore, chapped nostrils!) and sleep-deprivation due to all the hacking (sorry Anthony!).

Today, I actually feel almost better. Not 100%. But almost.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you, my loyal readers, know that I am alive. And I will blog again.

Admit it, you did miss me, didn't you?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Have a Bad Feeling About This

So in the end Anthony and I drove Sally to her far-flung safety deposit box. We emptied the contents, closed the account and brought her home, where with evident delight, she inspected her pearls and the yellowed bank statements she'd placed in the box last summer.

She acted as if she'd never rented a box before, and in fact told me she didn't really know how they worked because she'd never had one.

I know for a firm fact that my mother always kept a safety deposit box with her bank in Winnipeg, for pretty much the entire time I can remember. So, say, 40 years.

She doesn't remember that.

But this is much about nothing.

The latest chores keeping me hopping are my mother's daily, constant and whining demands surrounding the upcoming cocktail party to be held for one of her friend's 90th birthday.

This friend of hers, Willa, is my mother's oldest friend, ha ha, and by that I mean they've known each other since the age of 5 or so. Two little Polish girls growing up in the north end of Winnipeg.

Now, Willa's daughter, who by total coincidence also lives in Kookytown and holds a prominent, high-paying job, is throwing a shin-dig for Willa, who still lives in Winnipeg. Willa will fly to Kookytown closer to the party date.

Now, Willa visits K-Town from time to time, of course. She visits her daughter and grandson, and since Sally moved here, Willa also drops in to visit all of us in my home.

But Willa's whole life has been in Winnipeg. She doesn't know very many people here, and certainly has no old friends here, other than Sally.

Yet her daughter is throwing the party here. I know what it will be like, full of important people in important outfits, drinking excellent wine and eating catered nibblies, talking about very important things. They will all know each other. Some may have met Willa a few times.

Make no mistake, this party is really about Willa's daughter.

In any event, we are all invited.

This has thrown my mother into a tizzy. She needs her hair done, her toenails clipped, a new outfit purchased, and of course, a meaningful yet inexpensive gift acquired.

I have to arrange everything. Apparently. So I'm told. Every day.

I did come up with the meaningful, yet inexpensive gift. I've taken an ancient picture of the two little Polish girls, dressed up in their school uniforms and flanked by Nuns, and another, more recent picture of the same gals, and had them blown up and framed. The pictures blown up. Not my mother :)

Nice, I thought.

It will definitely be the most meaningful gift there, if only by dint of the fact that no one else attending will be anywhere near so close and old a friend to Willa, as is my mother.

But her demands for a new outfit are ludicrous. My mother can't buy clothes off the rack. She is fat and lumpy and so saggy she seems melted.

She knows this. But she wants a new wool suit.

"Why didn't you mention this at least a month ago?" I snarled at her when she began her demands. The party is in two weeks.

"You know you'll need a suit tailored. You WILL NOT be able to find anything to fit ready-made. You know this."

Sally: (pouting) "But I didn't know I'd need anything then."

Me: "You've known this party was happening for at least 6 months."

Sally: "You need to take me shopping."

Me: "We won't find anything. You know that. Last time we went, you tried on a million things, then started swearing and flung everything down and we came home and you told me again how you can't fit anything and need a tailor."

Sally: "I did?" (making disingenuous cow eyes)


Sally: "Have you found a nice card yet? What about the hair appointment?"

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Later, she'll start in again about needing a new suit. How I am supposed to solve her dilemma is beyond me. But she expects me to. And she will let me hear about it, until I do solve it.

Today, to get her off my back, I set her the task of making a few pierogi. Alexander adores them and will devour a dozen at a time. My mother's probably made a million of them in her life time.

But when I took her to the kitchen counter and pulled out the recipe (written out a few years ago for my benefit, not hers, as she has always made them up from memory), she gazed silently at the card for a minute, then looked at me with her trademark blank expression, mouth hanging open, and said: "I don't know how to make these."

A lifetime of safety deposit boxes and pierogi-making, gone.

But tomorrow, she'll certainly remember to harass me about getting her a new wool suit, that I know for sure.

And there's one other thing she'll remember, without a doubt.

We'll get to Willa's birthday party, and there will stand Jim, the husband of my very good friend Babs, the very Jim who villainously inhabits my mother's "memories," skulking about in her mind as a lecherous fiend who grabs innocent women's buttocks (my mother's, to be specific).

All a false memory. Jim has never touched my mother, nor any woman other than Babs, at least lately, as in the last few decades, I'm sure.

But my mother will "remember" his grab for her rump.

I hope to God she doesn't decide that it's high time she slapped his face good and hard, to punish him for his brazen, if imagined, assault.

Thus, I await the party with a bad feeling.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Safety Deposit Box (And may I PLEASE lock up my mother in it?)

This is another story from when Sally was in the retirement residence over the summer.

Just how much trouble could one very elderly, short (though quite wide, granted) confused woman get into in such a brief period of time, you ask?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Just give my mother access to a telephone and the proverbial s*!%t will hit the fan. Pretty much on a daily basis.

So allow me to summarize:
(1) First bit of trouble -- Refusing to attend the dining room during appropriate hours, followed by informing the manager of the residence that she was a bitch and more akin to a prison warden than a caregiver to the frail and helpless (my ass) elderly, leading to...
(2) Second bit of trouble -- which characterization thus understandably enraged the manager of the residence, causing her to unceremoniously evict my mother mid-term, which led to...
(3) Third bit -- my frantic search for a new residence to house my mother for the remainder of the summer, with pretty much zero notice to go on.
(4) I could add a fourth bit here -- having ample time to ruminate in her luxurious, but apparently boring, digs over the summer, Sal created a fantasy involving a memory of mine, that she handily changed/converted into her own "memory." This is an ongoing problem as we of course continue to interact with my friend and her husband: he of the allegedly roaming hands, and I'm just waiting for Sally to haul off and punch him one day.

Is that enough?

Sorry, there's more.

Remember, she was only out of our sight in the residences (plural as it turned out. See #3 above) for about 7 weeks. Yet, she managed to adroitly maneuver herself into a further bit of trouble, and this particularly stunning piece of mischief is taking the cake in terms of headache-inducing potential for me.

So, without further ado, the last bit of trouble (that I know of at this point, anyway) --
(5) Sally, who can't find her own teeth (did I ever tell you about that one?), or even remember how to find her way out of her doctor's office to the curb where I await in the chariot to whisk her back home (did I tell you about that one? About sitting at the curb, risking a very expensive ticket, while Sally wandered from office to entrance, back to the office, then, presumably tired, sat down on a hall-way chair for a couple of hours, waiting for me to find her in the labyrinthine office building, rather than coming to the car as she was instructed), but I DO RUN ON; Sally, once deposited in the retirement residence, starts thinking that she needs a safety deposit box.

You read that right. She's been living in Kookytown almost two years now, and if she'd ever mentioned it, I would have helped her open a free safety deposit box at her bank, which gives all sorts of freebies to senior citizens. But she'd never mentioned it.

Upon getting into the Residence, however, and with time on her hands to brood, she proceeded to pick up her telephone (what did I tell you?) and call a nearby TD Bank location. She makes an appointment, books the limo that the Residence provides free-of-charge to its inhabitants for their little tasks, and, on the appointed day, she takes the limo to the bank, fills out all the required forms, provides all necessary identification, and presumably presents a sane enough exterior to countenance the bank employee's agreement to rent her a box.

She pays the rental fee, opens her box, deposits her jewelery, and hops back in the limo to be whisked to her rooms.

Remember: can't find her teeth, loses her underwear constantly about our house (found at odd and inconvenient moments, let me tell you), and insists that I do all talking on the phone for her, because she claims she can't hear. Also completely unable to remember appointments, despite my constant reminders to her to WRITE THEM DOWN, and thus witness the not-inconsiderate fees she's had to cough up in missed doctors' time.

But able to undertake independent and fairly complex tasks like identifying and calling an unknown bank, booking transport and opening an account.


Which of these things is not like the other?

Anyway, the upshot to all this is that Sally's jewelery is now in a safety deposit box located far on the other side of Kookytown, in a peculiarly difficult spot to get to. She didn't mention anything about it for the longest time. I fetched her from the Residence and she came home, got used to losing her underwear about the place again, and then one day, casually mentioned that I'd have to drive her to hell's half-acre to remove her jewelery (which between you and me hardly merits renting a box for protection against the raiding hordes).

It is hardly what I'd call convenient for me to take half-a-day to do this for her. Yet she expects it, even though I've explained that normally I'd never go near that part of town.

I've told her for about a month now that she got herself into this mess, and since she's so capable and adventurous, she can get herself out of it. My refusals to immediately be at her beck and call don't make any impression on her.

Every day, she asks, every day I say no. And over and over, for a month at least now.

Sally: "So dear, my jewelery is in that safety deposit box, I mentioned to you."

Me: "Mmmmph."

Sally:" We must go soon to get it out."

Me: "We? No. You, yes."

Sally: "What?"


Sally: "Oh, my GICs are in there as well, I need to get those certificates as well." (This is the dementia talking. There are no certificates in the box, only her jewelery. Sally has regressed in her investment memories to thinking that she still receives thick-papered, gold-stamped certificates when she buys GICs. When I show her how we do it online, her eyes glaze over and she shuffles off muttering about imaginary sheaves of certificates).

Me: "Feel free to get your jewelery anytime you want. Here's the number for the taxi."


"Sally: "I suppose I could take transit, if necessary."

Me: "Oh, it's necessary."

The next day, unabashed, she'll launch into how "we" need to fetch her jewelery and GICs.

In the beginning, I'd told her that if I found a day when I could squeeze the task in, I'd take her. But as she nattered and nagged at me, day in and day out, refusing to wait for a day convenient to me, I grew resolved to let her solve the problem for herself.

I can only hope that when she does go on her grand adventure to retrieve the errant jewelery, that she doesn't get into any more trouble than she already has. For this year, anyway.