You are not going to believe any of this, so I might as well jump in without introduction. Gordon and I discovered today that we really live in the Twilight Zone, and we just did not realize it.
This morning, I spent in the studio catching up with some important business-related emails. At noon, I went up to the "Big House" to have lunch with Mama, ship out a package and a few pieces of mail, grab a shower and wash a dog.
I could be back in the studio by 1 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. max...to start working on a big honking urgent rush deadline for porcelain.
It is now 4:30 p.m., and I have just melted into my side of the bed (also work center, sewing center, office space, etc.) Ingested a Valium and am waiting for my hands to quit shaking so that I can work on that big honking urgent rush stat deadline for porcelain.
What happened between noon and 4:30 p.m.?
Dried Apricots and Hand Nippers and Mama's Scattered Medicine.
"Penny, what did you do with my dried apricots?"
"Unc, I have not touched your dried apricots. The last time I saw them was when we were sending that care package to the soldier, and you made me eat one, and I told you that we would not be sending a partially eaten package of dried apricots to Iraq. Did you take them to your bedroom after that?"
In a very angry, confrontational voice, "I've already looked there and everywhere else. I don't know where they have gone. I wanted some last night and I could not find any. Someone moved my apricots!!!"
"Maybe they are there on the table?" at which point I gesture to a two foot stack of newspapers and books on the kitchen table. The kitchen table is Unc's domain. Period.
If he could put an electric fence around that kitchen table, he would...except he would keep forgetting that he had electrified the edges of the table, and would electrocute himself...which would become the fault of Gordon and me for messing with his stuff causing him to have to put an electric fence around it in the first place.
Miss Dollie helps us take care of both of them and helps with porcelain and cooks like a...I don't know what, but something wonderful.
Gordon tells me often that it was Miss Dollie's cookies that cinched the deal on him marrying me. He blames her cooking for any extra pounds he might have put on since we got married. That is a whole 'nother story.
Anyway, Miss Dollie had to go hide in the pantry because she was fighting laughter so hard. Sure it is funny to WATCH Unc go through one of his temper tantrums as long as you are not the one to whom the temper tantrum is directed!
(You are reading this with the humor with which it was written, right? More Maxine than Erma Bombeck)
When she could control her stifled laughter, she walked to the counter with the bread and immediately put her hands on those dried apricots. They had been there all the time, right where Unc had put them, right where they were supposed to be, and Unc was just too nearsighted to see them.
Mama, gleefully reported that last night he stomped around looking for his apricots and swore that "If I walked down to that damned studio, I would find my apricots! THEY took them."
Well, dried apricots are not on Gordon's food list. I eat one when it is pushed into my face, like last week, but I'd steal the dehydrated bananas and raisins and dehydrated apples and pear before I'd take Unc's dried apricots!
Actually, we have an extraordinary long daily check list of items that need to be in place so that Unc won't stomp and storm around. Silly things. Minute things, but important things to Unc, at age 82. Think Crankshaft the comic strip or the movie Grumpy Old Men, but magnified.
Whenever we try to clean up that kitchen table and put tools back in tool drawers and wash the caps that get flattened under the reading materials and collect any mail of importance, we know to expect several days of snorts and complaints about us moving something, hiding something, or throwing away something vital to national security.
The situation really is funny, and we can now laugh about it. In the first years of our marriage, Gordon had a difficult time until he learned what it was like to take care of 80-somethings and Never Move Their Stuff!
Well, Unc was not embarrassed about the dried apricots. It just made him madder.
From there we moved to "Who Moved My Hand Nippers" ...think trimming off tree branches. That search started in the kitchen corner where Unc piles up the various tools he might want in the middle of the night and would not want to go to the basement or barn or tool house or his woodworking shop to find.
You guessed it. He gets furious when we try to move the electric sander out of the kitchen and back to the woodworking shop. There is a piece of walnut log in that corner that I have not had the nerve to tackle
I can tell him clearly and distinctly that I have moved the hoe down to the basement. I can repeat the information and be sure that he heard what I said and was actually listening to my words, rather than thinking of some army tale that is vaguely similar to something that passed over the television. The next day, "Who Moved My Hoe!"
I get to be the epicenter of the storm. Lucky me!
If Unc wants to fuss about something Gordon has done, real or perceived, so he comes and stomps and storms and curses at me. If Unc wants to get out of Mama's line of fire, he comes to me, and I "volunteer" to calm her down.
Hurricane Alice can easily get to category 5 and leave a swath of nothingness...if I don't jump into the situation as fast as possible. Tornado Unc has lots of little twisters that leave total chaos.
After "Who Moved My Hand Nippers", I made the mistake of trying to sort the pills that he had accidentally dumped on the floor...a whole week's worth of Mama's meds.
Unc did NOT like me messing in his sandbox. Well, thankfully, I did "stick my nose in it".
Sorting the pills and putting them in their proper cubicle in one of those 6AM, 10AM, 2PM and 6PM Monday through Sunday organizer things, I discovered that Unc had been really off on some of the medicine.
He was as mad as a water- drenched, frustrated Tom Cat cornered by a couple of Westies. Yep, that is an appropriate picture of Unc this afternoon.
So, med by med, we looked at the print out from the doctor's office, and Unc saw the mistakes and mis-interpreted notes he had written on the list I had in the box of medicine, and we slowly filled Mama's medicine dispenser.
Gordon will tell you that I was gentle and patient, never implying that Unc had done anything wrong. I took the blame for not making a new list and not helping him more. That really did not help. He was "mad all over". Oh yes, Gordon had to put his work aside to help with the searches and pill searches and pill negotiations.
We can only give Mama one day's medicine at a time because she likes to play musical cubicles with the pretty little pills. That was an adventure that I will not soon forget
We now have a new, more detailed list of what medicine is taken when. I know to check behind Unc when he fills the box. Don't want to take away all of his dignity.
Since this dropped med box; medicine lost; risk of a dog getting a human pill....has happened a number of times before, I suggested we put a piece of regular tape over a day's cubes when it was filled.
He thought this was silly, but being the pesky, irritating niece that I am, he was smugly waiting for the tape to fail.
Gordon got the tape, and I taped Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then I TOLD Unc that I was going to try it out by dropping the box on the ground. I TOLD HIM in advance.
I pushed the box off the table and let it flip over several times and land on its face on the kitchen floor. The tape held. Not a pill strayed. This solves a problem that has existed for over a year now.
Good niece? Are you kidding?!?
I was satan's understudy for dropping that medicine box on the floor and scaring Unc like that. Fuss, cuss, snort and storm.
So, I ended my time in The Big House by doctoring Unc's boo-boo's, checking on any bump, bruise, swelled joint, pulled muscle that I could remember. With a little bit of coddling, he was all smiles and giggles, A box of new-to-them books arrived, so they will have a grand time deciding who gets to read which book first.
Tomorrow, I will learn what I moved, hid, lost, used up, did not think of doing or did not think to ask about today. That class that I took in college (1979-1983), "Psychology of The Aging" was CLUELESS! If you are writing a book about eldercare, get in touch with me!!!
I never took meds to calm me down or help me sleep until the last couple of years. Now it takes me HOURS to wind down each night.
Sweet, loveable, thoughtful, wonderful Gordon has just put in the new Rambo movie that came in today from NetFlix. (NetFlix works out to be much less expensive per movie than Pay-Per-View or the Big Screen.)
My steady and trustworthy Mr. Frugal knows that I need a calming movie like Rambo to help me focus and regain my composure for a long night of finishing porcelain for that big honking urgent rush stat humongous looming deadline!
Maybe tomorrow I will tell you about the Glaucoma Specialist thinking Gordon was my son! ROFLOL