Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
As many of you know, my mother moved in with us a year ago last November.
At first, we thought she was just a little lonely after my father passed away; so, we encouraged her to come live with us. And as time went by, we discovered more and more that she is not immune from the common problems that plague the elderly... and then some. She does her best, but she gets confused with fairly simple concepts, like scheduling and which kid is where; she frets over trivial matters; and she often forgets how to do the most routine of daily tasks.
Without being too specific, her brain has suffered a lot of wear and tear. But she is still so pleasant, and she is a joy to have with us.
As you can guess, my mom needs a lot of help and support, so we are truly blessed to have Cheryl at the helm.
Cheryl is perfect for the job.
When my mom gets frazzled, Cheryl is there to calm her. Cheryl often reminds her that her only job is to not worry. And when my mom gets confused or forgetful, Cheryl takes the time to explain every detail.
Oh, how Cheryl loves to explain things. Queen of the Over-Explanation is how I often refer to her. No matter how many I got it's that I give her, she plows ahead. For instance:
Cheryl: Hey, can you get your mom's pills ready?
Me: Sure. Where are they?
Cheryl: Okay, they are up in the cabinet where we used to keep the glasses... not the coffee cups, they are on the other side... where we kept the water glasses...
Me: I got it, the cabinet....
Cheryl: ...the water glasses and the juice glasses. Before we moved them to the drawer under the forks and knives.
Me: I got it. The cabinet above...
Cheryl: Above the junk drawer... the cabinet with the happy birthday banner on the right side.
Me: I got it!
Although at times these explanations can get... um... er... I don't want to say annoying because they are not annoying... okay maybe a little bit annoying. Let's go with endearing... yeah... endearing is good. Endearing is annoying but in a nice kind of way.
Although at times these explanations are... ahem... endearing, they are perfect for my mom because no matter how many times my mom hears them, it is as if it is for the first time. Cheryl never gets short with her, she never gets impatient with her, and she never gets tired of explaining and caring for her.
Having said all that, occasionally we need help.
This past week, my sister Michel came into town from Texas.
You remember Michel... in a previous FGF, I may have referred to her as Nurse Kevorkian because she plugged my dad's oxygen tube into an empty oxygen tank. He was dying anyway so what the heck.
Fortunately, her mistake was discovered, so we decided to give her another chance with Mom.
The plan was for Michel to come into our home and take over mom's care for a week and give Cheryl a break. Two birds.
We quickly discovered that Michel has her own style of management.
We should have known this from the last time she visited. During that visit, Mom and Michel had discussions about foot massages. I was sure that Mom would love that. The next day, I walked into the house and heard them talking about how great it feels. How nice of my big sister to take such loving care of Mom... washing and massaging her feet like Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
Yeah.. not so much.
When I walked in the room, I found my mom giving Michel a foot massage. I am not sure Michel really gets how this is supposed to work.
Anyway, Michel is a tad less patient than Cheryl. For instance, Michel was making crab soup and Mom gently reminded her that she needed to take the time to chop the onions into smaller pieces. Michel responded by tossing her out of the kitchen.
If Mom were to make such a comment to Cheryl, Cheryl would have gotten my poor mother her own damn onion and cutting board and lovingly asked Mom to show her how to properly chop that onion.
This was not the first battle over food that Michel waged against our dear mother.
Earlier in the week, Michel made some potato salad. The next day, Mom commented that the potato salad did not taste good (she has lost a little of her tact filter). When Michel asked her what the problem was, Mom complained about the ingredients. Michel went through every ingredient that she had included and Mom confirmed that she used to put in the same exact things.
Michel did not let this go and the inquisition began... what could have possibly been wrong with that potato salad?
I could see that Mom was getting brow-beaten into agreeing that Michel's potato salad was yummy, so I came to her defense. I chimed in: Love! Mom used to put love in her potato salad! You're missing the most important ingredient.
Under Michel's rigorous cross examination, it turned out that Mom was talking about some other food that we had eaten the night before, and it had nothing to do with the potato salad.
Even still, Cheryl would have just agreed with Mom and thrown all the potato salad away! I still think we should have thrown it away because it really was missing love!
But that little anecdote was just the beginning.
Mom still likes to play cards but is pretty limited as to what games she can play. Go Fish is a big favorite, but she has a tough time remembering to ask for matches to the cards in her hand.
One day... after waking up from one of her many naps in Mom's bed (it would appear that Michel treated mom's care as a union job)... Michel hustled Mom into a card game and took advantage of the old bird.
You see, Mom had a handful of cards but kept asking Michel for nines on every turn. Michel had seen all of Mom's cards and was tired of being asked for that same old nine. Michel lovingly insisted that mom ask her for a seven.
Okay Michel... Do you have any sevens?
As God is my witness, Michel replied...
No... GO FISH! HA HA HA!
Okay, I may have exaggerated the Ha Ha Ha part, but I am not exaggerating the Go Fish part. She tricked our mom into asking for a seven so that she should crush her hopes and dreams. What kind of monster is she?
Even for a family that is as competitive as ours, that was beyond the pale.
Michel claims she was just trying to move things along.
Why? I ask. Where did mom have to be? Is she dating now? Did she finally figure out how to work her cell phone?
Let me tell you something... if that had been Cheryl playing with Mom and mom had asked Cheryl for a nine, Cheryl would have just flipped over a six and handed it to her and called it a match.
All kidding aside... it was great having Michel and her daughter Katherine in our home for a week. Michel and Mom had plenty of time to visit and Cheryl got a much needed break. It is very difficult for my sister to leave Mom and go home to Texas, but I am sure that she leaves with the knowledge that Mom is loved and that she is getting great care here.
And for some reason, Mom misses Michel.
She even commented that since Michel had left, her bed was now going to be cold. I suppose she warms it up with all those naps she likes to take.
Since my Mom has moved into our home, I have come to the realization that I married the most selfless woman in the world. Her only complaint has been that she can't do more.
The kids are just as helpful as they take their cues from their mother's calm, consistent love. It is not always easy, and occasionally, after we have helped Mom in the bathroom, dressed her in her pajamas, and tucked her into bed with good night kisses from the whole family, Cheryl will ask me how I feel about my mom's condition and her dependence on us.
My answer is pretty simple.
For years, my Mom helped her six kids in the bathroom, she dressed us in our pajamas and she tucked us into our beds with good night kisses.
I am happy to return the favor.