Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What We Did On Our Night Off


The soft tones kind artificial flowers the gray and rose moments the comfortable couches a lovely meeting room big flat screens expensive stackable chairs the best fluorescent lights money and funding can buy.

It's the Alzheimer Chapter's Tuesday Night how to bath your batty mother-father-husband-wife-aunt-sister Workshop - how to bath them without them freaking out, screaming, crying, wailing and punching the shit out of you.

There's a video. I never saw anyone like my mother before but here she is, appearing as a skinny bald man, an old woman who is Christian and Black, a plump, blond woman with a southern accent clutching a dolly. Mom appears in their cries and screams and flying fists and shouted fears of being hurt and cold and about to fall.

I look around. The room is packed with lots who suddenly finds themselves not in the relationship started out in years before. And the faces are fierce and exhausted and the questions loaded and desperate.

She took him on an expensive cruise he wouldn't shave should she try to shave him?

Why did she stop playing the piano?

He lies about bathing but won't let anyone in the bathroom with him.

We are all clutching the remnants of someone. Clutching their finger tips as they slip out of our grasp and begin a plummet into insanity that only comes when something inside the head starts eating the brain for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

"Lower your standards," the facilitator tells us. I start to cry.

Mom, once crisp in her chic pants she got for $2 at Coney, a bit of flare around her neck, a jaunty man's jacket that made Hepburn look dull, now in diapers and cheap $10 sweatpants pilling after only one wash.

After tonight there will be no more baths. The baby wipes will do just fine.