Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Golden Girls

Tuesday afternoons are one of my favorite visiting times
at my dad's Alzheimer unit.
That is the day that a sweet gal named, Ellen
comes to play music and sing.
The residents love it
but not nearly as much as me.
She plays all my old childhood classics
like Deep in the Heart of Texas
I've Been Working on the Railroad.
We clap and 
I do my Edith Bunker impersonation.
Dad was even trying to snap his fingers last week. 
He is settled in and doing well.
He is content.
Mom has settled in to her new normal also.
When I go to visit,
I could look at Dad and get emotional
for all the things we have lost.
I miss him.
But, rather I choose to embrace the good.
He holds my hand sometimes. 
He talks about the cars he can see from the window.
I have also fallen in love with some of the other residents.
The staff is fantastic.
I never leave that I haven't chuckled or cackled
 at something that has been said.
I will share a sprinkling of the hilarity.
One day Mom was feeding Dad some peaches.
He looked at her holding the bowl and said
"well don't eat them all!" 
Linda and I died laughing.
There is a pair of sisters in the unit.
They crack me up.
Sometimes they are thrilled to see each other
and sometimes they are not at all.
One day they brought in the younger one
and sat her next to her older sister who cannot hear.
The older sister, I will call Maude.
The younger, I will call Hazel.
Maude says "How are you today Hazel?"
Hazel rubs her forehead like she is just not well,
like she is in pain and cannot stand it.
Maude says "Are you saluting me?
Well, I salute you too!" 
She salutes her and laughs.
I cracked up.
Another day I am sitting beside Hazel at a table
Maude is across the room in a muumuu covered in large flowers.
Hazel says to her "that's a pretty flower you have on your neck
and she touches her neck as she says it.
Maude say "is something wrong with  your neck?"
Hazel repeats " that's a real pretty flower on your neck"
again while touching her neck.
Maude says "does your neck hurt honey?"
Hazel repeats the same thing and again touches her neck.
Maude says " Well, I have a real good doctor at the hospital 
who can fix your neck."
I am chuckling the whole time.
I love them.
Another day a woman with a real Southern accent
(I adore listening to her talk)
says to the room of residents while waving her arm all around the room...
"Hey! Are all of you alright? Because!" 
Cracked me flat up.
Another day she looked at me
 then moved her hand all around the table and said 
" Are all these electrocuted?"
I said "No, I don't believe they are." 
Try not to laugh when she asks you that!
There is a sweet lady who sings.
She talks mostly gibberish but is almost always pleasant.
She will say nonsense and laugh.
She is a sweet soul.
She was singing and talking one day
then stopped, looked at me and sang
"Did you know that you sucky sucky suck?"
My sisters and I busted out laughing.
I said "well, I do now."
Another day she was at a table in the lunch room 
when I arrived . 
She was napping but woke when I walked in.
 I greeted her and said
"Hi there. How are you today? You look worn out."
She replied "what?" in a gruff tone.
I repeated "you look worn out"
 and she snarled
"what's that supposed to mean?"
 I just patted her arm.
Truly...I love these people.
I know my dad is in a great facility.
I feel blessed that he is able to live 
where they care about him 
and take such good care him.
Life may be different now 
but it is still good.
Silver Linings, baby...silver linings.


  1. Thanks for sharing Janie. My dad has Dementia (though not really in my life) and I tell my kids all the time to be prepared. We joke now but it is a very scarey illness. Thanks for the smiles.

  2. Thanks for sharing Janie. My dad has Dementia (though not really in my life) and I tell my kids all the time to be prepared. We joke now but it is a very scarey illness. Thanks for the smiles.

  3. So happy your dad is content.My mom is in a care unit, sometimes she's content sometimes not. It's hard to visit on those days. Thanks for the smile.xx

  4. Silver linings make all the difference! Thanks for the giggles this morning!

  5. Brings a tear to me eye! Reminds me of visiting my dad in the nursing home, where he was from fall '10 to this past March when he died. A good day was him saying "guess who I ran into in the parking lot today?" -- then not being able to remember (he was never in the parking lot either). A bad day was him not being able to talk at all. He liked when we brought our dogs on our visits. One time in the dining hall a guy called me over and said "I don't know what I'm gonna do!" I asked what he was worried about and he said, "I don't have any money, how am I gonna get out of here?!" I was always laughing through my tears, such bittersweet times. Silver linings, indeed.

  6. This made me smile. And get a little teary-eyed. But mostly smile.

    Because your heart is so big. And also because "I've been working on the railroad" was the first song I ever sang to an audience. Of my parents and grandparents, don't you know.

    Hugs to all of you. All of us.
    You are simply fabulous, my friend.

  7. I love your attitude. How is Toots?

  8. I know what you mean re: the music, the residents and the staff. How quickly they become a part of your "family" too.

  9. A sense of humor is what gets you through sometimes.
    I'm sure the residents enjoy seeing a familar face,
    even one that's "sucky, sucky, suck".

  10. How wonderful to look for and FIND the silver lining in all this :) I'm trying, too. Sometimes I get a glimpse of it!

  11. Bittersweet, for sure. I'm glad your dad has settled in.

  12. You know, I'm so happy you're telling the stories of these dear, sweet people--honoring the reality that they're still alive. They matter. I can tell that you truly do love them.

    And someday, Miss Janie, when we stand together in glory, can we sing together a duet in our best Edith Bunker voices?

  13. "But, rather I choose to embrace the good." .... and as hard as it may be at times, in any situation, that's just how it should be.


  14. Oh this reminded me of a video my family took so I could be part of their Christmas one year. My great-aunt Ada was always a very proper lady and also very hard of hearing. My grandma Gladys was the world's best grandma and just a bit plain speaking. So the video is in progress and my aunt opens a present of a pair of new shoes from my sister. As she tries on the shoes my grandma spots it and annouces to the whole room. "You have a bunion." My hard of hearing proper little auntie says, "What?" My wonderful but just plain old tell it like it is grandma shouts, "YOU HAVE A BUNION!" I just cracked UP. Maybe you had to know them but they were something else. Miss them both so much. Love you Janie, Peg from Decatur

  15. You made me laugh (and want to cry at the same time) over your nursing home comments.... Just lost my mom a month ago to demensia....


  16. hey there,
    i'm an anonymous stalker w/ no blog. 5 kids instead, and no computer skills. my granny (93 yrs) has alzheimers and is at home with poppy (95 yrs).they have 24 hour care, and my mom lives 1/2 mile away and is daily involved. poppy's definately getting bad dementia. granny whistles the sound that a guy would whistle to a good looking girl (back in the day). over and over. then you'll look at her and she'll nod (with her country woman leg over the side of the lazy boy) "uhhhh huhhh". She's always suspicious. talks about the people who moved in upstairs, and how they carry on all the time (there is no upstairs). she tells me, "nice to meet you!" and says it so genuinely... i know what a stranger must have felt like. i love her dearly and sometimes when i'm a room away and hear her talking to herself. i can pretend she's just still good ol' granny. love her. so much. whenever i take my kids (ages 4-17) to visit...i have to leave them in the driveway while i check to see if she's got her clothes on.
    the thing is, she was such a hilarious woman. i have a picture of her from the early 40's in a bikini top, grass skirt, and a parachute wrapped around her head like a turban with the entire-huge rest of it behind her (and the backyard) holding it, twirling. Love. I get'cha.


Thanks for reading my blather. I read every comment. They make my heart happy!