Monday, March 22, 2010

The very bad not good Granny (not my mom)


I went to visit my mother this weekend, aka "fun in the nuthouse".
As I came through the glass door on Friday morning, Toney, pictured above, was poised very still by the door waiting for her big moment.

The door was open and she ran out. Shouts of "TONEY!" and I turned to run after her but the same nurses aides called out, "Don't chase her, she's dangerous!" as they rushed past me.

Toney is 100 years old. She stands very straight and has a full goofy white haircut which you can see I could never get right in my sketches. She was RUNNING- she's 100 years old but she was running, and she jumped on the bus parked at the entrance. When the nurse's aide jumped on to catch her, Tony ripped off the aide's top "exposing her to the world", and scratched the aide too. She told her, "You have an evil heart and God will never forgive you."

Woah! No wonder my mother's one of their favorites. They say Toney is wearing a bracelet which locks the doors when she gets near them but she's figured out how to stand just out of lockdown range and then break out when someone opens the door unsuspectingly. She's 100 years old! She moves like an athlete.

As for my mother, her trip continues, but now it's sometimes by rail. We were in Florida on Friday and in England on Saturday. In England I was trying out for a stage role, but she didn't think I'd get the part. Something about not being forceful enough, and she wondered why I was dressed like I was Chinese. ? She carries on a monologue that's filled with curious details and funny comments, but I had the feeling I could have been there or not, for all the real impression it made on her: "so grand that you could come, taa taa".

When the 300 plus pounder nurse's aide waddled in to the small room where we were hanging, she said, "It's my husband!" My father was tall and slender and looked like Abraham Lincoln.

It was stuff that was funny but when it's your mom it isn't so funny. And there were all the other patients which I could have fun describing but I'll leave it alone. I only knew how to spell Toney's name because they've posted a sign for her on another door telling her to turn back (before it's too late?)

20 comments:

booda baby said...

Oh, Sally. On the one hand, I'm truly happy for your mom, to have such an imaginative and rich alternative world. But good gosh, I don't know how it could NOT be hard to watch the connections of memory - the very things we collect and treasure so much - ... well, disconnect.

I read this and had to call my mother. We've had our own family experience, but after she retired from being a school psychologist, became an ombudsman for California care facilities. Do you suppose you'd have felt any better at all if you hadn't had to experience Toney's escape?

Kevin Stafford said...

Memory loss is one of the saddest things to witness, and tends to afflict the brigthest and most imaginative.

I remember watching my grandfather have to painfully re-learn that his youngest son had passed almost 20 years before. It just ripped your heart out to see. He was by far the strongest and brightest man I've ever known.

We're all pulling for you, Sally, as we know how difficult this time must be for everyone involved.

On the bright side, this Toney sounds like quite the character.:-)

Mars Tokyo said...

If I ever get to be 100, (Hopefully, NOT) I hope I'm like TONEY!

Sally said...

Actually Toney made the weekend brighter for me. BREAKOUT!

I thought about writing down all my mom's random thoughts but she was funnier when she was less random, and doesn't deserve to be remembered for this part of the cruise.

Just wish we'd had more of a connection, and I appreciate your kind and heartfelt thoughts. Saw a wacky 1965 pop music concert film tonight that cheered me immensely. Ray Miller, Bo Diddley, and the Lovin Spoonful plus a plateful more in 1965 Hollywood.

Namowal said...

Dementia is one of nature's dirtiest tricks. It's so hard to hear a loved one talk nonsense- or not seem sure who you are.
Toney sounds like quite the athlete. She reminds me a bit of my mom when she was in the hospital after her stroke. She didn't understand why she was there and why she couldn't leave. One time she belted me (not very hard) and another time she scratched me because I wouldn't cooperate. At least she never took off my shirt.

Linda said...

The Very Bad Granny
What a great title for a kids' book.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sally,
We visit an elderly friend at a senior residence every week and there are several Toney's in there. They aren't going to go down easy, that's for sure. On the other hand the memory thing is painful. I hope your mom at least can keep calm and flow with the good times.
Greta

stray said...

Thanks for posting this, Sally. I loved hearing about your mother and Toney. I would love to hear other comments and about the others there, too, if you ever feel like writing more. I'm sorry it's so painful. The brain is so strange and amazing. I am glad things like "breakout" can lighten things up a little. I suspect on some level your mom really did appreciate your presence more than you can know.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sally, I'm glad you're back. I hope Toney makes it across the border next time. Katy

Namowal said...

A clever nursing home in Europe came up with a way to handle Toneys. They installed a realistic (but fake) bus stop in front...

Linda said...

Namo, that is an amazing article.

Sally said...

So interesting to read how many of us know a Toney or just respond to the idea. She was so darn physically fit. She was 100 years old! She was SNEAKY!

prb said...

I like Linda's idea about the book title. You should do it, Sally! Glad you are back. Loved the bits about Toney.

Sally said...

I don't think books with bad adults get the ok from publishers any more in spite of Dr Seuss and many others. Am I wrong? Doubt that Eloise would get published today.

prb said...

You are probably right--small market share. Loved Eloise from the time my mother read it to me when I was 6. I think it came out that year....

Mean Jean said...

Glad you're back. We are going through some of the same with my MIL. Her back is broken in two places but she doesn't remember anything about how it happened.

Pile Girl said...

I take care of my mom 24/7. She yells incomprehensibly and I can't tell what she wants. At least she can't run off.
When I see those ads for vocational school that say, "no one can take my education away from me", I can just point at my mother, who used to be a registered nurse and now doesn't even know who I am.

Sally said...

Pile Girl, that's heartbreaking to read. Hang in there.

Sally said...

and welcome Pile Girl, your illustration/profile on facebook reminds me of my horse character Whinsey. Lots of artist gals here.

Pile Girl said...

Thank you, Sally. :D

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