Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Alzheimer's Chronicles: Part I

My mother has developed early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s frustrating, and sad, but you know, if it ain’t one thing, it’s another, right? So, we can either mope around and feel sorry for ourselves, or try to find a silver-lining.

She’s living in an assisted living, actually she’s in an independent living apartment, and so she has some interesting things happen with her neighbors. This weekend she had an argument with a lady who thought my Mom was trying to steal from her storage unit. The other lady got so worked up she drove her electric scooter at my mom and hit her legs, knocked her down, and caused a general ruckus. Because the lady has been really nasty to many residents, and because she refuses to calm down and treat people nicely, and because the assisted living facility is having a hard time “getting rid of her”—the state protects her—we decided to call the police and report the incident.

The script below is a condensed version of what happened.

And in case you feel guilty: it’s OK to laugh.

Act 1, Scene 1: Mom is interviewed by Officer Lord
Two officers arrive and introduce themselves to me. It is clear that the younger of the two, Officer Lord, will be conducting the interview. The other stands quietly and sternly in the corner, watching.
Me: “Mom, please sit down, this is Officer Lord.”
Mom: “Such a handsome man. Oh yes, I know you.”
Officer Lord: “Excuse me? I don’t think we’ve met.”
Mom: “Weren’t you the man who came to help when she wrecked her lawn mower?”
Officer Lord: “Ma’am?”
Mom: “You were very nice.”
Me (shaking my head): “Mom, you’ve never met these officers.”
Mom: “I know them from somewhere.”
Officer Lord: “OK, Ma'am, please tell us about what happened.”
Mom: “Where should I start?”
Me, in a slight sing-song voice hinting at The sound of music “Do-Re-Mi” song: “Just start at the very beginning…”
Officer Lord looks at me like I’m nuts: “Just explain what happened.”
Mom: “You know, I was working in the yard—Darren has me doing that—”
Officer Lord: “Darren?”
Me: “Dorro, that’s his name. Dorro, the maintenance man.”
Mom: “Yes, right. I help Doyle because I’m so good at it, I had a big house in St Louis—”
Me: “Tulsa, Mom.”
Officer Lord: “Please don’t interrupt, Sir.”
Me: “Sorry”
Mom: “Tulsa, that’s where I’m from, but also St Louis, that’s where my Dad was from—“
Officer Lord: “So let’s get back to what happened…”
Mom: “That’s what I’m trying to do, because I had a yard—”
Officer Lord: “Ma’am, I mean with the incident.”
Mom: “What?”
Officer Lord: “With your neighbor.”
Mom: “Well, she had fallen down with her lawnmower in the yard—”
Officer Lord: “Lawnmower?”
Me: “Scooter.”
Mom: “Oh, I mean scooter. She had wrecked her scooter and was on the ground and the uh—the uh—Dole wouldn’t help her up and she was furious—”
Officer Lord: “Dole?”
Me: “Dorro, the maintenance man.”
Officer Lord takes note of the name: “Why didn’t he pick her up?”
Mom: “No, and she was so mad.”
Officer Lord looks perplexed.
Me: “It’s against their policy, to make sure they get medical attention first.”
Officer Lord: “I see.”
Mom: “And so the Post Men came—”
Officer Lord: “Post men?”
Mom: “What?”
Officer Lord: “You said the Post men came?”
Mom: “No, I meant—uhm—the Police came—”
Officer Lord: “Was this before the altercation?”
Mom: “The what?”
Officer Lord: “The argument.”
Mom: “No, the argument was later.”
Officer Lord: “So why were the Police here?”
Mom: “The police weren’t here.”
Officer Lord: “You said they were here.”
Mom: “Who?”
Officer Lord: “The Police.”
Mom: “No, no, you’re all wrong.”
Officer Lord: “But you said…”
Mom: “Darn it. They were…they had uniforms. The—er—uhm…they came in the great big red truck…”
Me: “Mom, the Fire department.”
Officer Lord gives me a disapproving scowl, but nods with understanding. His patience is waning. His partner, who had been standing in the corner, now squats down and stares at the floor. This is going to be a long one.
Mom: “Oh, yes the fire department came and they helped her up but they told her they would not get involved.”
Officer Lord: “With what?”
Mom: “With the stuff she said I was stealing.”
Officer Lord: “She said you were stealing stuff?”
Mom: “Oh, she’s an ugly, ill-mannered person. She was yelling.”
Officer Lord: “She said you were stealing?”
Mom is offended: “I’ve never stolen anything! But there was a piece of paper but it was still there.”
Officer Lord: “So why was the fire department here?”
Me: “She had driven her scooter off the edge of the sidewalk and fell over, so the assisted living employees called the fire department and they came to help.”
Officer Lord: “Oh, OK. Please don’t interrupt.”
Me: “Sorry.”
Mom looks at me, annoyed: “I’m trying to tell my story.”
Officer Lord: “Please continue.”
Mom: “So I was there and she just came at me.”
Officer Lord: “Where were you?”
Mom: “We were there in the barn.”
Officer Lord looks puzzled.
Me: “The storage unit by the garage.”
Officer Lord: “Oh. Were the firemen there?”
Mom: “Oh, no, they were gone I think.”
Officer Lord: “So this was after she crashed her scooter.”
Mom: “She is a terrible driver. She wrecks everything, the doors…”
Officer Lord: “But she crashed her scooter?”
Mom: “I said that. And she was so mad. Furious. She has a terrible temper you know.”
Me: “Mother, please get to the argument.”
Officer Lord appears annoyed with me: “So you went to the storage unit and what happened there?”
Mom: “She started yelling. She has a terrible temper. Oh, I’m sure I told you that.”
Officer Lord: “Yes ma’am. But what happened.”
Mom: “Well, she ran over me with the lawnmower.”
Officer Lord: “The scooter?”
Mom: “That’s right. Yes, that’s right, and she came right up at me and over me like this…” she moves her hands up her body as if to demonstrate the scooter driving over her.
Officer Lord: “Did it injure you?”
Mom: “I have bruises on my legs.”
The officer removes his flashlight and shines it on her legs. “I can’t see bruises.”
Mom: “They are small. I heal quickly. I have always been very healthy, even when I lived in Missouri, because I work in the yard, I like the sun you know. I was raised on a farm.”
Officer Lord clicks his radio: “This is Officer Lord, please dispatch a CSI unit to this address.”
Mom points at her bruise. “It hit me here and here.”
Officer Lord: “So when the scooter hit you—”
Mom: “It came right up me like this, and I screamed ‘you’re going to run me over!’ and it came right up like this.”
Officer Lord: “But did it knock you down or were you standing up?”
Mom: “Yes that’s right.”
Officer Lord: “But which one?”
Mom: “Which one what?”
Officer Lord is getting frustrated. “Were you standing up or sitting down.”
Mom: “We were in the storage. Why would I be sitting down?”
Officer Lord: “But then you fell down?”
Mom: “No, she knocked me down!”
Officer Lord: “She pushed you?”
Mom: “No, the lawnmower ran me over.”
Officer Lord: “Was she pushing the scooter?”
Mom: “No, she was on it.”
Officer Lord: “So she drove it into you.”
Mom: “Right, that’s what I mean.”
Officer Lord: “OK, she drove it into you.”
Mom: “Yes, and I yelled ‘you’re going to run me over!”
Officer Lord: “Was she backing up, or driving toward you?”
Mom: “It came right up my body like this.” She sweeps her hands up her chest again.
Officer Lord: “But was she facing you?”
Mom: “Well, uhm…” she closes her eyes to try to remember.
Officer Lord: “Was the scooter coming at you?”
Mom: “Oh yes, right on top of me. And I was yelling—”
Officer Lord: “But was she looking at you?”
Mom: “She was looking right at me! She did it on purpose!”
Officer Lord: “OK, Ma’am, we’ll go and talk to her…”
Mom: “She’s probably home. She sleeps all day you know. She has a—uhm—a blind dog. Well, it’s not blind, but it’s a dog.”
Officer Lord looks puzzled.
Me: “A working dog.”
Officer Lord: “A service dog?”
Me: “Yeah.”
Mom: “It’s a sweet dog. But she’s not nice. She yells and curses at her dog. She’s a terrible person.”
The CSI officer arrives.
Mom: “Goodness, another officer?”
CSI Officer: “I’m here to take pictures, ma’am.”
Mom blushes and begins to arrange her hair nervously.
CSI Officer: “I need to see the bruises on your legs.”
Mom stretches out her legs. “I shaved today.”
CSI Officer chuckles. “That’s good.” He snaps some photos of the bruises.
I turn to Officer Lord, who is taking notes.
Me: “I guess this is probably a welcome relief…no angry Crack Heads…no guns a-blazing…”
His partner responds. “I’d prefer crack heads. They’re my friends.”
Me: “Keep things interesting, I guess…”
Partner: “Yep.”
Me: “You can’t deny this is fun. Quarrelling grannies using scooters as weapons…”
The officer looks at me like I’m off my rocker.
Me: “You would have preferred a car chase.”
Partner: “That might be fun.”
Me: “Maybe that old lady will try to evade on her scooter.”
Partner: “Now you’re talking. If it evades, we will pursue.”
CSI officer: “I’ve got all the pictures I need.”
Mom: “That’s a very nice camera. I still have my Dad’s camera, you know.”
Officer Lord: “Well, thank you. I’ll go next door now.”
Mom: “Oh my. She’s going to yell.”
Me: “Can you Taser her once, just for fun?”
Officer Lord and his partner both frown at me.

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