The other day, Mom complained that she had a “tooth ache.” She corrected herself and said of course she didn’t have any teeth, and so it was a “gum ache.” I asked her if she had cleaned her plate lately and she admitted that she hadn’t. I told her that her regular caregiver would be arriving soon and could help her with that task.

I was busy with a lot of other things, and when the caregiver arrived, I welcomed her, told her about Mom’s discomfort and her need to attend to her oral hygiene. She acknowledged my request and I went back to work.

Later, I noticed Mom nodding on the sofa in the living room. I went over, put a hand on her arm and asked her if she felt all right. She looked up at me and grinned blissfully. “I found my pills.”

“You took painkillers?”

“Yeah. I feel great.”

“You took Vicodin rather than clean your teeth.”


“When it wears off, you’re going to have pain again.”

“I’ll take more pills.”

When I told my husband this story later that evening, he laughed and laughed and tried not to, acknowledging that he probably shouldn’t be laughing at this. What the hell. It’s pretty funny. It’s also kind of scary. I’m going to have to search her room for her stash.

Today, Mom was on a treasure hunt in the fridge. My brother had brought a load of smoked fish and bagels on Sunday. (This is one of the few joys my brother and mother share. I hate fish. No one else in my brother’s household eats it either). I had sliced the many leftover bagels and froze them in a plastic bag, sliced up the chocolate babka he’d brought (watch Seinfeld for details) and put it in a plastic bag so she could grab slices as she pleased, and put all the other various leftovers in the refrigerator.

Somewhere along the line in one of her feeding frenzies, Mom had put all the stuff in the freezer and forgot about it. She was searching through the refrigerator for so long this afternoon, the door alarm was ringing as her caregiver looked on, helplessly. I came over and she asked me what I did with her food. I hadn’t touched it. I looked around and then looked in the freezer. Everything was there. I told her she had to have put it there. “Put me in front of a firing squad!” she exclaimed.

“Mom, you’re the only one who cares. You’re the one who did this. So if there’s a firing squad involved, you’re going to have to hire them to shoot you.”

I got an excellent offer on her apartment today and I will be using the proceeds to buy her a place up here. This is the best day I’ve had in a long time. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and these “funny” incidents will seem a whole lot funnier in retrospect.


About traceysl

Digital Artist, creative technologist, problem-solving lover of life. Having cared for my mother, who died on April 14, 2015 after a long fight with dementia, I have refocused professionally to helping others through my experience. I have started a company called Grand Family Planning to provide unique Family Support Services. In this way, I share my knowledge and give meaning to the tragic turn of my parents' journey through the misery of dementia.
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