The Dog Ate My Homework
The Dog Ate My Homework
When my mother-in-law was in her final days in the nursing home, the attendants gave her a baby doll to carry around to give her comfort and focus. I thought, Huzzah! Brilliant! I will get my mom a stuffed dog, large enough to be her companion and soft enough to give her physical sensation. She always had dogs in the family to nurture and attend to when she was well. So we headed off to the biggest toy store in our area and together we found a life-size golden retriever puppy dog. She named it Ditzy. And it was a girl.
We brought Ditzy home and Mom started to dress her up in her clothes. The dog had on so many clothes that she was "like a tic ready to pop". Instead of being a comfort or companion, Ditzy morphed into another opportunity for obsessing. I thought she might pet it and enjoy its softness while we watched TV. Instead every day I asked how Ditzy was and Mom said, "She's sick". "She's bad and needs to go in the shed." "She kept me up all night." "She peed and it ran onto the floor." The dog was in her bed wrapped up to the chin with bed-covers. And Mom wouldn't make her bed because the dog was in it.
While shopping for camping supplies, Mom went to the pet section and grabbed a dog bed off the shelf. Cool, I thought, she's grooving with this. That night I checked on Mom when I went to bed and she is not under the covers but curled up around the dog in the dog bed which is under the covers, and she's exposed to the air, asleep.
This week I tried to take Mom for her weekly hairdressing and she said, "I can't leave the dog in the car. I'll have to skip the appointment." I said, "She'll be fine, we'll just leave the windows open." And then I found Mom wandering in the front yard with dog in the bed. Well, if her dog has one of those "invisible fence collar" things and it keeps Mom from wandering, then I'm all for it, I thought.
While we're trying to form a night routine, I put Mom to bed about five times, and she comes out saying, "There's a man in my bed and he's sick so I can't go to bed." Now Ditzy has become a man. Is that the dementia patient equivalent of "the dog ate my homework" or "there's a wild thing in my closet"?
Today my husband left for his camping trip. His only snag was trying to locate his knife. He asked me if I thought Mom had thrown it away. I told him, "No, Honey. Unless Mom can wrap it up in a pantyliner and hide it in the dog bed, I don't think she has your knife."
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