Sometimes as a caregiver–especially to carees with dementia–you HAVE To, I say Have TO, get out and enjoy some time away even if it’s for an hour. Your caree can really drive you to the brink of insanity at times. I thought once I was away from my mom who has dementia the caregiving would stop until I got back home. That is not true.
On many occasions I have checked my back for a sign that says “Caregiver on duty 24/7.″ There must be a sign that only carees with dementia and small animals see on me when I am out. For example, I was listening to “Gravity” by John Meyer with my eyes closed in the car. I love that song. It’s mellow and I do want gravity to stay away from me like he says. I was singing that in the dressing room once and the clerk laughed until she cried. Gravity is really present when you can’t get out of the clothes you’re trying on. Anyway. I was waiting for my daughter to come out of the store. My little Karaoke car concert was interrupted by someone’s grandmother opening my car door. It scared the heck out of me because at first I thought somehow my mom had walked from our house to the store and was coming to ask me where her dentures were.
I hear “Hay Dios mio the line was long” and then she sits down in my car! Another lady screams in the next car “Mom I’m over here! ” You get the idea we had identical cars and her mom didn’t even look at the driver she just assumed she was in the right car. The mom is tired and just sits there laughing and talking to me in Spanish and says she’ll get out once she catches her breath. I speak Spanglish so I understood most of it. Her daughter was bent over her car with her head down and she kept apologizing to me. I told her that I had an elderly mom too and if she needs to vent or find other patron saints of the elderly she should visit caregiving.com. They have a great support group. Her mom finally gets out of the car and hands me a mango. Ironically my playlist is playing “Crazy” by C Lo. Which was appropriate. My daughter comes out of the store and I don’t even bother explaining what happened.
I can’t even get a traffic ticket without ending up caring for someone. I was coming out of my favorite egg roll place in San Jose. I accidentally ran a stop sign because I was rushing to choir practice. I see a motorcycle policeman in my mirror. I had no idea what I had done. I have my head down looking for my driver’s license in my wallet and once again I hear the passenger door open I think “No he didn’t.” This policeman actually sat down in my passenger seat; he was wheezing and really sweaty. I was thinking he was going to have a heat stroke. “I’m sorry ma’am I am really hot and it’s the end of the day and I needed to catch my breath. Do I smell egg rolls?”
I’m just sitting there dumbfounded. As I said everyone’s favorite egg roll place in San Jose is right up the street and he must have known that’s where I came from. He goes on to explain that he gained weight and he misses driving a car and he was almost retiring from the force. I just listen and people are jogging by laughing and he keeps talking and in the meantime I had given him an egg roll. So he’s talking with his hands about his co-workers and how he hates the route they gave him and waving his egg roll. I finally get to interrupt and ask why he pulled me over in the first place. He said, “Oh you didn’t make a complete stop at the stop sign but it’s the end of the day and you’re a nice lady and I appreciate the egg roll and the break so I am letting you off with a warning.”
I was thinking my warning was keep my passenger doors locked so elderly grandmas and policemen don’t make it a habit of getting in my car to rest. “I am so embarrassed,” said, “I really need to retire thanks for letting me vent” Then he rode off.
Well at the end of the day for what ever reason I guess I am glad that people feel comfortable confiding in me even if they do take my egg rolls and mistake me for their granddaughter.
Angela is a blogger on caregiving humor.