Sunday, September 2, 2007

Ocean Handle! What's an Ocean Handle?

I spent the weekend at my parent's house while my husband studied diligently for his board exams. This particular weekend was my grandmother's 87th birthday which she started off by falling down and whacking her head on the corner of a dresser. This was then followed by a visit to the hospital and 48 hours of declarations of new ailments and wild meanderings.

"My ears, I can't hear but if I stick my fingers in my ears I hear better."
"My back, it hurts."
"Did you know I fell down the steps?" (Ummm, no. That was last year, you actually fell in your bedroom. "Oh, yeah. I fell in the bedroom.").
"I have a hole in my head."
"I don't want to stay here anymore, I hate you people. I'm going to ask Mother if I can stay with someone else." (Huh? )
"That hairdresser cut my hair like a boy." (Considering I cut her hair the last time, this was a vast improvement)

My grandmother had been living with my aunt and uncle for almost 17 years prior to her moving in with my folks. She was entirely lucid until about 2 years ago (note: the use of lucid since she's always been crazy) when she started forgetting people. She pretty much gave up remembering her great grandchildren's names. They now have nicknames, known only to her. "You know, the one that screams" or "that one with all the hair". The other day she said to my mother (about me), "I don't remember her, is she married?". My mother replied, "Yes, you know her husband" and my mother demonstrated my husband's strange face rubbing tic that he does when he finds something funny. Immediately my grandmother replied, "OH, I know him, I loooove him." WTF she remembers my husband but not the grandchild she's known her entire life?

So needless to say we end up having very odd conversations with her on a regular basis. And by regular, I mean very regular. It usually goes something like this:

Mommom: Hi ya, what's new?
Me: We're moving.
Mommom: Oh yea, is it nice?
I explain our new place in great detail
Mommom: Oh that's great. Good luck with that.
Silence for about 1 minute
Mommom: Hi ya, what's new?
and repeat

I visit occasionally so I have these conversations with a great deal of amusement, my mother on the other hand is subjected to this on a daily basis. I think she's dealt reasonably well. She herself is slightly deaf and I think this helps.

We've repeatedly told her that she needs a hearing aid. Evidence provided below.

My sister talking to my mother...
Sister: You know mom, they have these services that come to your house and fit you for a hearing aid, you don't even have to leave the house. I saw it on TV.
Mom: Who's coming to my house? What are they doing with my TV?

The family driving in the car...
Sister to my father: If you're going to do anything crazy, let me know so I can grab the Oh-Shit Handle.
Mom: An Ocean Handle! What's an Ocean Handle?

My mother and I talking yesterday...
Me: That guy said he hasn't been back to Austria since he was 10.
Mom: How old is he?
Me: He's probably fifty or sixty.
Mom: Oh that's only 6 years.
Me: Hey, good math mom. How do you figure?
Mom: You said he's only 15 or 16.

You can see how this might be slightly irritating. Last year at Christmas time was the final straw. After enduring days of "What?", "WHAT?", "What did you say?" we finally said ENOUGH. We told her that she would not receive a single gift for any holiday going forward as we were escrowing gift money toward the purchase of a hearing aid. By this point you're picturing my parents as poor retired folk that are watching their pennies - why else wouldn't the poor woman get herself a hearing aid, right? Wrong. They're quite fine and the only reason she doesn't have one is because it is a "significant purchase" and my father told her that "he'll let her know when she needs a hearing aid".

This logic is baffling. Do you know the other day my mother ended up with the wrong salad at lunch because she couldn't hear the waitress. What's next? My money is on her accidentally selling herself into white slavery.

I have to get going. I have several repetitive conversations to have at very high volume. Enjoy your Labor Day!

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