Sunday, February 25, 2024

I Go To A Bar.

 An elderly woman with dementia is struggling right now. Her husband is in the hospital about 1 1/2 hours from home, and she wants to see him every day. Her daughter had been with her for nearly a week, and they went daily, but the poor woman doesn't seem to remember that. All she knows is that she wants to see her husband. 

Trying to arrange care for her is hard. None of the local 'homes' have openings for the two of them, and so they continue at home. They have care coming in 3 times a week, but it is not nearly enough. The family stuffs the refrigerator with food, but she doesn't remember that she has it. It's really not a good situation right now. 

The daughter had to go back home, and was concerned about her mom on her own. Her brother was coming in but had not yet arrived. I volunteered to go down to fill the interim. "I'll take her out for supper," I said. I thought that it would be a nice distraction for her. I thought a little drive would do her good. It was a beautiful day but cold. 

She was delighted to see me, although she had no idea who I was. I explained several times during the course of the afternoon. and saw the comprehension dawning.  An hour later, I'd be fielding the same questions and once again, watching her understanding come yet again. 

So, it was an interesting but not unpleasant afternoon. I listened to her stories of days gone by, and she really is a funny, funny lady. Her humor is something that dementia has not taken from her. I told a few funny stories of my own, and we had a lot of laughs. 

It was getting towards supper time, and (not knowing about the stuffed fridge), I said, "Hey. Would you like to go out to eat?" 

She worried that someone might be coming to pick her up to take her to Erie. They weren't, but I assured her that they could reach my cell if they did.

I let her pick the place and was a bit surprised when she named a local bar. I'd never been, but she assured me that they had all kinds of sandwiches there. It was out of my comfort zone: one woman with dementia in a bar I did not know, but it was me that put the question to her. 

We pulled into the gravel parking lot. It's quite a jampacked place on Friday and Saturday nights, but we got there a couple hours before the place got hopping. I quietly explained the situation to the woman behind the bar, and she led us to a table where my friend could see all, underneath the taxidermied head of a buck smoking a cigarette. 

While we waited for our burgers, she suddenly got up and set off. I was a bit concerned, but she crossed the building past the bar and headed for the bathroom like she knew exactly what she was doing. 

As I kept an eye in her general direction, my sister texted to make sure we were doing okay. "Yes" I answered, and, just for giggles added, "She's halfway through her first beer." 

My friend returned to the table, and I told her what I had just texted Anna, and she laughed merrily, and then she said. "There's a man at the bar with very long hair. I couldn't resist. I grabbed his pony tail and pulled his hair." And she laughed and laughed. 

Cue Lynyrd Skynrd



At about the same time, my sister messaged back "SHE DOESN'T DRINK!!!!!"

I asked my friend nervously, "What did he say?" and she replied, "I didn't stop. I just kept on walking..." and she laughed some more. 

Ye gods and little fishes! I texted my sister. "JK about the beer. Not JK about her pulling some guy's hair." My sister, ever helpful said, "We are laughing here..." 

The burger was good. The frenchfries were the best I ever had. We got out of there with no trouble, and we spent the rest of the afternoon driving around the places she knew as she remembered them to me, and the ghosts of the people who lived there years ago. 

We got home and she began stripping down in the dining room, and conversationally asked me if I was going home soon. She got pajamas on, and my sister texted to say that if she was getting ready for bed that it was perfectly fine to leave her for the night. 

She walked into the livingroom as another daughter called to check on her. "Everything is fine," she said. She told her that she had company. "I don't know her name though..." 

46 comments:

  1. Hillary Clinton said it took a village to raise a child. I think it sometimes also takes a village to usher us out of this world too. As per a previous post of yours, yet another reason I try not to alienate folks around me with my actions.

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  2. Sounds like a great afternoon had by all Debby. I love Lynyrd Skynyrd.

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  3. I'm glad the woman has her sense of humor. You are a good person, Debby!

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  4. I am not sure how I would have managed that situation. Certainly not with as much skill and care as you did.

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    1. Well, it did concern me. Some people really overreact. But all's well that ends well.

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  5. What a good person you are Debby. I am glad your old lady behaved herself in the bar and it must have been good for her going round the old places she remembered.

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    1. Well...it could have gone sideways if she had upset the fellow drinking at the bar.

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  6. A good story and some good music!

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    1. The good news is that he did not take offense.

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  7. This reminds me so much of my Mother. I have many stories sad and funny. Jackie

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  8. You were very calm about her going to the restroom by herself...I'd have been going right along with her...so she couldn't go out the back way. Sorry, I have only been around people with advanced dementias...and their minds tell them to do very unpredictable things.

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    1. Oh, I could see the bathroom door. The exits were marked and not near the bathroom. She toilets independently.

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  9. Debby, you are awesome. Thank you for the Sunday smile. 🙂

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    1. It is something far funnier in hindsight than it was while it was happening, fer sure!

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  10. Wow. What an afternoon! Sounds like it almost could have been the basis for a story or a movie. I love that you agreed to take her to that bar. Obviously, she had been there before and probably associates it with some good times.
    You are a good woman, Debby.

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  11. There's a tale you will tell several times!

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  12. Oh my, what a story. Those poor people. I was hearing yesterday on the radio that there may be something viral that causes dementia? I need to find where I heard it and read more in depth so I really heard correctly. Imagine if all it took was a pill to cure this!

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    1. I hope that day comes. What an amazing gift that would be.

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  13. Oh dear. That poor lady definitely needs to be in some sort of care facility.

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  14. That was very kind of you to watch over her. She obviously needs more care, that must be so stressful for her family. I hope I die before dementia.

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  15. That's an awesome story! I'll bet she really enjoyed her meal out. How kind you were to take her.

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    1. She ate her fries. She brought her burger home. She put it in her stuffed fridge, probably never to be thought of again.

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  16. Well, that's your good deed done and it sounds like you quite enjoyed helping out.

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    1. I like to listen to old stories. I always have.

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  17. Replies
    1. You really do lose the person long before they actually die.

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  18. OMG! OMG! You are totally amazing, Debby! I'm amazed your friend can be left alone at her house. We get nervous leaving mom more than a couple of hours.

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    1. I do have to tell you that I honestly don't think she should be left alone.

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  19. Some dementia people can be very cunning to get what they want and get around you. Good for you to look after your friend for an afternoon.

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  20. Happiness and sadness combined

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  21. Unpredictability is hard to deal with but thank goodness for an unaffected sense of humour. How were your nerves when you got home?

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    1. Oh perfectly fine, really. I was just out of my comfort zone at the bar. I was shocked that she pulled some guy's ponytail, but he did not get mad, so it was a fun afternoon listening to old stories.

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  22. My comments don't seem to be "sticking" of late. A very bittersweet story for me ATM. Wish you were closer!

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    1. It is such a hard struggle for families to manage, watching their loved ones fade away before their very eyes.

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  23. Oh, boy. Talk about an adventure! At least she's in good spirits and not angry or frustrated, which seem to be the main characteristics of some people with dementia. I'm glad the guy whose hair she pulled wasn't easily triggered!

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  24. Me too! It was, all in all a nice little adventure though
    She is a nice lady.

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