64: Talking Potato

64: Talking Potato

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

Talking Potato

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.

~William James

Being creative while taking care of my mom during her last year was not only helpful, but an absolute necessity. As the dementia progressed, she didn’t say much and mostly stayed on the couch watching TV.

Eventually, getting her to eat became a challenge. Usually the only thing she wanted was a baked potato with butter and cheese.

One day, after fixing her potato, I headed into the living room, only to hear, “I don’t want it.”

“I have your potato fixed with butter and cheese. It looks delicious, Mom.”

“I don’t want it!”

“You are going to love it. It will taste good.”

“I don’t want it! I don’t want anything!”

Mom weighed less than 100 pounds and needed to eat.

“Mr. Potato,” I said, “Mom says she doesn’t want you.”

In another voice I replied, “Tell her I taste good and I want her to eat me.”

Mom again, “I don’t want him.”

“But I’m all covered with butter and cheese and just the right temperature.”

Mom’s head came up a little, but she kept her eyes closed.

“Tell Betty I will cry if she doesn’t eat me!”

Mom’s body started jiggling with laughter. She cracked a smile and opened her eyes, looked at me, and said, “Tell him I’ll eat him!”

And she did!

As I approached the kitchen to fetch my talking potato, I was thrilled she was going to eat and that I had made her laugh, amazed at what I heard come out of my mouth, and so sad about my mom and her condition — all at the same time.

Later that night my thoughts returned to years earlier when I went to the hospital to visit Mom. As I walked through the door of her room, she said, “I prayed all day that you’d come and see me because I knew if you did, you would make me laugh.”

Those words changed my life. I knew I was supposed to use my quick wit and sense of humor to help others and I became a Christian humor writer. Now all these years later I was using humor to help my elderly mother.

Even with dementia she knew there was something funny about a talking potato.

~Linda Rose Etter

More stories from our partners