63: Sense of Humor Needed

63: Sense of Humor Needed

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers

Sense of Humor Needed

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

~Kurt Vonnegut

Mom is getting more difficult. Lately, we waste so much time arguing and not getting anywhere. I know it is impossible to reason with a person suffering from Alzheimer’s, but sometimes I get so frustrated that I can’t help myself.

This morning is one of those times. Mom is scheduled to go to adult day care, which gives me a respite for a couple of hours. I will be able to go to my dentist appointment and shopping. We are running late as I am trying to get her out the door.

“Come on, Mom. It’s time to go,” I say.

“Wait, I want to change my blouse,” she says.

“You can’t,” I state. “It’s too late. Besides, what you have on is fine.”

“No,” she insists. “I don’t like this blouse.”

“There’s nothing wrong with what you have on,” I say abruptly and then I shout “WE HAVE TO GO NOW!” as I pull on Mom’s arm to get her out the door.

Mom is not happy. And neither am I, especially since I haven’t had a good night’s sleep for a couple of weeks.

Finally, I drop Mom off at the day care. I’ll be able to have a few hours to myself.

I know Mom can’t help being so difficult. I feel bitter, too, that Alzheimer’s disease has kidnapped the wonderful mother who loved and cared for me all of my life and left this imposter.

The day flies by, and I feel satisfied with all I have accomplished. It’s time to pick up Mom, and I brace myself to resume our futile arguments.

Mom is waiting for me when I arrive.

As we get in the car, I ask pleasantly, “Did you have a nice time today?”

“Yeah, it was fun,” she says with excitement.

“That’s good. Today was exercise class. I know you love that,” I say.

“Yeah, that was fun.”

“Did you have a good lunch?” I ask warmly.

“Yeah, it was good.”

Then she spots the chocolate candy I have in the car. “Would you like some candy, Mom?”

“Yeah, I’ll have a piece,” she says, reaching for a miniature Hershey bar. Mom still has a good appetite. And she craves sweets.

Then Mom says, “I’m glad you picked me up instead of that lady who took me this morning. You’re the nice one. That other lady who took me this morning is such a bitch.”

I am a little shocked at her statement. Then I start to giggle.

“You are right. That woman is a bitch. Everyone says that about her.”

“Well, what’s wrong with her? Why is she so mean?” Mom asks.

“Oh, who knows? She probably has all kinds of aches and pains. And she just doesn’t have a sense of humor like us,” I say.

“Well, even if she has aches and pains, she should learn to be a little nicer,” Mom says with indignation. Then we both start laughing at that bitchy woman.

“From now on, I’ll try to be the one to take you and pick you up,” I say.

“Oh, good, ’cause I like you,” Mom says.

“I like you, too,” I say.

Mom smiles at me. Then I say, “Let’s have another piece of candy.”

“Good idea,” she says.

For the rest of the way home, I find myself smiling at this situation. I vow to take my own advice. The best way to deal with unpleasant situations is with a sense of humor. Even with Alzheimer’s, Mom’s still teaching me so much about life. She makes me laugh at myself, which keeps me from taking the situation too seriously. Today, I learned not to be like that lady who drove Mom this morning—the one with no sense of humor.

~Lucille Engro DiPaolo

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