Monday, July 26, 2010

The Babysitter

I had made plans to go on a day trip out of town with my husband and knew that mother would need her medication, so I asked my daughter Hannah to go down and administer it to her. Hannah arrived around 8:00 am and Mema was sitting on the front porch as usual, anxiously awaiting who she might find at her garage door, not recognizing this shiny red car. As mother opened the door, Hannah greeted her with medicine baggy in hand. I'm sure that today was not unlike all other days and that mother went through the usual script of "What are these pills for?" and "Why can't I take them myself?"

When Hannah was a little girl and prior to her going to school or on sick days, she stayed with her Mema and step grandfather Yates, while I went to work. Hannah is the youngest of mother's grandchildren and she and Yates enjoyed watching her on these days.

I recall one day, mother called me at work laughing so hard that she couldn't get her breath. Hannah was sick that morning so I had called mother to see if she minded wathching her for a while. She agreed, so I dropped her by on my way out. Since Hannah was sick, she just layed on the couch the whole day. On usual days when she stayed at Mema's, they would go Indian rock looking, or to the nearby trash dump and come back with some special find that someone had discarded a little too early, in their words. But on this day, mother had made a cake of cornbread which was one of her specialties. Now this cornbread was just perfect and Mother said it was the prettiest one she had made in a long time. Proud of her product, she took the hot iron pan which held the cake of bread into the livingroom couch to show Hannah. As Hannah raised up from her sick bed to see what all the fuss was about, Mema lowered the pan for her to see inside. The cornbread slid right out onto Hannah's sickly body and burned her in more places than one. Mother was a self described "Medicine Woman" and she swore on many occasions that "Vitamin E" or an "Aloe plant" worked miracles on burns. So she quickly applied them to Hannah's burned skin.

I have to say, that I have taken up a lot of my mother's tendencies. For some strange reason when someone falls, throws up or meets up with some unsuspecting peril which isn't terminal, I get tickled. Apparently mother, even though she loved Hannah very much had gotten a kick out of this calamity.

As I answered the phone, mother could hardly tell me what she had done for laughing, but assured me that my daughter who I had left in her good care, would be alright.

Not long ago, I was having lunch at work when the phone rang and it was mother. This time, it was the babysitter with Dementia. It wasn't the grandmother who was taking care of her granddaughter, but intead it was a troubled woman who had lost a child that was in her care. The voice on the phone was puzzled and asking questions. "Do you have the little boy?" Not knowing what in the world she was asking, I naturally said, "What little boy?" She said, "the little boy that I've been keeping." Well, to say the least, this caused me to be very worried. I finshed up with lunch and went directly to her house. As I came upon the porch, she greeted me and we talked about usual things, wondering if she would remember calling me. Seeing that things were alright, I started to leave so I said, "mother, do you remember calling me at work about the little boy?" She said, "Jean, I don't know why I called you, I know as well as I'm sitting here that there wasn't a little boy here." Feeling releived that she realized that. I said goodbye and went home.

Around five o'clock, I received another call from mother. She was almost in tears. Apparently, she had been babysitting a little girl and she thought she had let her "slip away" as she called it. As I began assuring her that there had been no child there, I could see that she was becoming more upset, so I did what everyone has told me from the beginning, I went along with her. I promised that I was going to hang up and call the girl's mother. I had suggested that possibly the mother had come while she was napping and picked the child up. I could see that this already made mother feel better. As I hung the phone up, I called my sister in Asheville to inform her of the situation. I then called mother back and told her that I had called the girls mother, unknowing who in the world the little girl was and not to mention who her mother was. But I told mother that the woman had done like I said, and picked the little girl up while mother was napping. Mother was so releived! She said "Praise the Lord, and thank you Jesus, I just knew she had slipped off and it was about time for her mother to pick her up and I was going to be in one more tub of hot water!" She began asking me what she was called. I said what do you mean and she said "What is it that I'm called, you know someone who takes care of children?" I said, "a babysitter?" She said "No, some other word." After suggesting other words, like "Nanny," "Caregiver," etc., we never could come up with a satisfactory word to describe her new found occupation. All I know is that mother was thanking God that her babysitting job was over!

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is a constant reminder as that as caregivers, we are not along in this dementia journey with parents.