Mom knew Hitler…didn’t she?

NOTE: It occurs to me that I should put my disclaimer HERE instead of at the end of the this post. I have to warn anyone reading this – this is a post about ALZHEIMERS – a joke post. I am a supreme smartass and I actually talk to my Mom and Dad in the same tone this post is written in – and they love it – it’s me. But I wanted to let you know up front that this may be extremely offensive to some people who have a loved one with this disease – so I just wanted to say this: If you aren’t prepared to open your mind and laugh at the absurdity of the imperfection of the human body than leave now – FORGET ABOUT IT …Just like your loved one with Alzheimer’s would…

  

  

I haven’t really gone into any detail about any of my family members –  not counting Todd of course – except to whine to you via post whenever they have the nerve to inconvenience or annoy me. But today I would like you to meet my Mom.  

Say hello to Mom. .


My mother has always been the sweetest, and most insecure, mother on the planet. She would do anything for my sister and I because she genuinely loved us. She would also do anything for you (even if she just met you) because she wanted you to like her, but didn’t believe she was good enough to be liked for herself. It was funny, annoying and sad all at the same time.

I remember when I was 19 years old and still mooching off the parents at home, I ran into my mother one day as we passed each other in our cars on a small street in our neighborhood. We both stopped and pulled over to say hello, and I asked to see what she had bought at the mall. As she was showing me her old lady shoes and “mature woman” clothes, I noticed a new curling iron in a box on the back seat. For the sake of making conversation more than anything else, I exclaimed, “Oh you got a new curling iron, cool!” Immediately she insisted I take it and placed it in my hand – she wouldn’t take NO for answer. Ignoring the fact that she and everyone else were fully aware I hardly EVER curled my hair – or even combed it for that matter. 

Hell, this was during the 80’s when long, extremely layered hair was left UNWASHED to allow the three days worth of hair product get thick enough to set the hair vice-ike in place until it was “ratted” out with a comb – keeping that glorious rat’s nest as huge as possible was the goal – no curling iron required.  All I had to do in the morning was roll out of bed and make sure it was still messy enough to look like I had just been “rock star FUCKED” – and voila! I was good to go to work. But I took the curling iron anyway, that’s how I WAS – a brat used to being spoiled.
Anyway, that incident sticks out in my mind as a testament to my mother’s sweet and sad puppy dog need for approval. And it makes me feel bad. I feel bad that she felt she always had to pay people to like her. It makes me feel especially bad that it didn’t occur to me at the time to use that knowledge and trick her into thinking she had to give me her 2 year old Lincoln Towne car she had gotten the year before – or I just wouldn’t like her anymore! Looking back I could kick myself – I KNOW I would have scored on that one for sure!
Anyway, my mother has Alzheimers but it wasn’t diagnosed until last year.
All of us had noticed she had been doing some whacko things lately, and getting bitchier over the years, but we just kind of put it down to the “I’m going to DIE SOON!” breakdown that hits all old people the moment they can no longer deny that time for them, is running out – that coupled with the knowledge that it’s too late to try most of the things they had always “meant to look into” someday, once the “kids are out of school and I have my life back again”. So knowing that life in many respects has passed them by and their tommorrows are numbered pisses them OFF! – and they sometimes throw temper tantrums in a sort of “Life envy” fit of rage – and it’s usually aimed at those of us who are yet marked for natural death anytime soon – and their spouses, who catch flak “just because”.  So we all thought Mom was “just getting old, cranky and senile”. But this wasn’t the case. 
By this time, Mom had started to act REALLY crazy. For instance, one night she picked up a bunch of KFC at the drive through as she had invited my sister and her family for their routine Sunday night dinner at their house. Frequently these dinners would include my brother-in-laws random musician friends and any stray brazilian relatives that happened to be living at their house that week. On this particular night, I believe she had 4 extra people coming for dinner – all of whom she would be meeting for the first time that night. So it’s dinner time and my perfect  hostess mother is serving up the food personally, as usual, one plate at a time.  Everyone’s at the table just about ready to dig in and enjoy some getting -to- know- you family time, when my Mom suddenly realizes that the idiot teenage server at  KFC has forgotten to put in honey packets for the biscuits.  So out of the blue she raises the pepper shaker she’s holding and slams it down on the table and screams “DAMMMMMMN!” at the top of her lungs – showing her displeasure vocally at the God Damn inconvenience of the situation – and nearly succeeds in giving everyone coronaries.  And that’s not normal behavior for my Mother.



There were other things too. Like forgetting her way home from the grocery store. Like attending her routine Wednesday hair appointment –  then going beserk in the middle of her haircut and screeching at her hairdresser of 20 years – suddenly demanding to know WHO she IS, and what the HELL is she doing bending over her with scissors –  and then trying to slap her. Yeah, it was things like that got her carted off to the doctor’s and diagnosed. And her bad behavior also cost her her driver’s license. Such is the way with Alzheimer’s patients – sad but it happens, right?

Then a couple of years ago she started telling people – family, perfect strangers and anyone else who would listen – that she had known Adolph Hitler. Here’s the skinny:

She met Hitler as a result of a months- long vacation she took with four girlfriends when they were RNs in Chicago. What astounds me is the fact she had the guts to hop that plane and fly off to Germany, ALREADY AN RN AT 13!(I did the math regarding the war years and the year she was born) to drink martinis – that she’s a minor is a minor detail and hobnob with the citizens of our nations’ then-number one adversary. And she did this all in the midst of the bloody action known as WWII. But the story gets better…

Not only did she get to meet The Fuhruer in person, but when he heard she had just “shown up” for a drop-in visit on the steps of his governmental suite – Adolph dropped everything he was doing (probably important war plans to bomb the US capitol) and ran down the stairs like a man in love – and kissed her on the cheek, giving her a hug. And all the while they conversed in German – I guess she somehow was able to learn the language during her 18 hour flight from the US to Germany. But the story isn’t quite over yet.


After my mother tells this story (and she tells it a minimum of 100 times a day), she ends it with “you know, Hitler wasn’t as bad as people said he was – in fact he was a really nice person.” “I think they exaggerated a lot of what they said he did.” When she does this in front of strangers and their faces blanche,  one of us will hasten to whisper “She’s CRAZY…” and make a circle with our finger at our ear – while the other distracts Mom so she doesn’t see. 

Most of the people are very nice and understanding.  They smile, nod and back off slowly before bolting in the opposite direction. There was one thing, though, about her Hitler story that nagged at me a little. Of course it’s obviously delusional on so many levels yet the way she tells it you can actually picture her there. With every repeat, and I mean EVERY TIME – she never wavers in a different direction from the original details or changes one iota of the subject matter. If you try to trip her up with a trick question she pops right back with the answer. Each detail of their trip, every description of people, the nazi  marching parades and her dialogue with Hitler – is verbatim with the other thousands of times she’s told the tale. Then again, all she has is time on her hands to memorize it to perfection.


 

(By the way, My mom was saying for a while that she met Abraham Lincoln, but I guess she dropped him in favor of the more interesting Adolph).
Anyway, I totally accepted her Alzheimer’s diagnosis – I had worked with AZ patients in the past – and her behaviors were typical of those with AZ. People get it all the time.  Right? I was cool with it (but I don’t have to live with her 24/7).  And I know where to get the resources to combat it, herbal alternatives to try to combat it and how to locate a trillion forums on the internet where you can garner support from each other – and of course, share Mother’s “I love Hitler” stories over a cyber-martini.  All and all, my Dad was taking everything in stride – his denial of the situation finally beginning to wane.

In the beginning, he would say things like “If she would JUST vacuum the living room.” The vaccum’s standing right there in front her but it’s like she doesn’t see it!” Or my favorite, “You know, I need to tell you, your mother’s been running around wearing her bra on her head, I don’t know what’s gotten into that woman – its not some new fashion I don’t know about, is it?” (Oh Dad, so much denial involuntarily on the parts of the spouses of Alzheimer’s patients). So I would remind him again and again and again, (having worked with these patients for a number of years in the hospital) that it’s all a part of the disease process we talked about.

But over the last year and a half Dad’s continued to progress in his understanding of the disease. We talk about the inevitable and having to witness the process, and he admits that it’s hard to be a yet-healthy 82-year-old that could still go “anytime”, without having your spouse of 45 years decline faster and faster right in front of your face. But the normal anxiety and sadness aside, he’s been in his usual off-the-wall good humor (he’s the source from which MY humor was born) and he teases my mother about Hitler even when she’s not obsessing about her time with him. 

If a commercial comes on adverting a book on WWII or PBS is running a WWII week of programs on the Nazi regime, he’ll pipe in with “Hey Jean, da fuhuer is looking for you – he was just on TV calling your name” and we’ll all crack up, even my Mother – while she’s answering him like he’s being 100% serious in his remarks. So I was proud of my old Dad. He’s lots of fun to be around in general, and impressed me with his proven ability to still be able to laugh in the face of one of life’s shitty little “Golden Years” jokes. 
But tonite I found something on an old laptop he gave me, and I’m a bit concerned. In fact, I’m starting to question this whole Alzheimer’s thing with my Mom. Is it the disease that’s making her imagine the whole Hitler saga? Or was it something or someone else? … I’ll explain. 

My Dad’s old laptop is ancient enough to have been built before the birth of the ones with newer wireless capabilities, so Todd’s still trying to determine if it’s even a possibility I’ll be able to use it for the internet. So with my dream of endless internet surfings away from the distractions of Playstation 3 noise dying, I decided to break into the files it still had on the harddrive, and snoop around a bit.

After the obligatory two hour loading period the dinosaur insists on, I managed to access a weird word processing program I’d never heard of before. Scanning the files it contained, it appeared that it was a reasonable facisimile of Microsoft Word. All of a sudden a window popped up and asked me if I’d like to finish retrieving my “lost documents”. I was bored so I thought, what the hell – What’s another 2 hour “loading” period compared to the titillation of viewing one of my Dad’s bank statements or dry old accounting lists – I had the rest of the day to kill.

So the computer actually finishes loading the lost documents in the record time of ONE HOUR and then a list pops up with 6 items instead of the supposed one item – all for my viewing entertainment, at my leisure.  The unopened documents are all unidentified but each is marked with a date in the 2001 to 2006 range.
I click to expand the files and that’s when I see the titles my Dad has given each of them – complete with some personal notations he’s attached to each:

There’s:
 

Nazi Marches  – ‘play on continual loop’ 2/12/01

AND:

Hitler da Fuheur, Hitler my friend: – a personal account in detail by Olga Gottlieb, R.N. – ‘play 3 times a day every day all year’ 3/08/2002

And this nostalgic tune: Songs for the patriotic German – ‘play in background at dinner when it’s just us’– 9/27/03

And:The human side of the Nazi regime – ‘show on Saturday nights when falling asleep’ – 7/1/04

Oh yes, almost did’nt see this one:German for the beginner – ‘suggest as a necessity for our future trip to the Fatherland’ 4/19/05

and my personal Fave:

Stranger in a strange land: The dramatic story of Four friends decided to fly to Munich for vacation during WII – ‘mention this a few times for mental stimulation’ 5/5/06


OK. I know what it looks like. But wait. My Dad has always been a HUGE war buff who loves to read all history. That would be common for someone who retired at 52 –  having been a full bird in the air force for many years, right?

And every weekend without fail, no matter where we lived in the US – we’d be greeted in the morning with classical and opera;  marching tunes, patriotic songs and the like – as my Dad made sour cream pancakes for all of us and conducted an invisible orchestra simultaneously. So these “file discoveries” are actually in the “scope” of where his historical interests lie.
 

But…

Then again, he was gone most of the our early years – away doing officer things, while my mother raised us and worked and never got a break. And over the years, especially after he retired and was home all the time – she often let him know throughout the day that she’s resented him for years. Of course now she SCREAMS her resentment at him, wherever they may be, due to her illness – but she never lets up.  

And…

Constant harping gets old. Fast. And my Dad’s probably had quite a bit of time over the recent decade or so to become annoyed with my Mother’s “resentment” and may even harbor a bit of his own towards her. And I can understand.  I mean, I love my Mom and all –  don’t get me wrong. But I CAN understand.

So…

I can also understand if one day, he just thought to himself…Hmmm…Let’s give her a little something to keep her off MY ASS! Give him a break  –  he was probably just bored and needed a little diversion from the nightmare of her illness. And he needed to have a little well-deserved fun. Who can blame him? At any rate it’s kept Mom occupied.

(You don’t want to be around Mom when she has nothing to keep her busy, trust me) 

I’ll ask him about it next weekend..maybe.

  

NOTE:( In case any of my family reads this, i have to cover my tracks)  Everything in this post is pretty much true except for the “list” of my Dad’s.  The ACTUAL list was two pages long and i discovered this is what made that computer so damn slow…


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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Woodsterman
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 14:41:37

    Just wanted you to know I was here …

    Reply

  2. thinkinfyou
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 16:18:11

    Alzheimer’s disease is horrible,my grandfather suffered from it too,but it can be quite entertaining at times ,if you aren’t the primary caretaker. The stuff my grandfather would come up with and believe was hilarious.

    Reply

  3. surveygirl46
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 16:58:53

    Hi Woodsterman and TFU – Yeah Alzheimers IS rotten to have – literally – fbut the upside effects are the entertaining things the sufferers come up wit. My mom says the funniest crap and I have to be honest – she’s really a lot funnier and has a better sense of humor – probably cuz she isn’t “herself” and not all wound up. .So the the way we all deal with the stuff she does is just laugh at it – she does too – so life is one big comedy hour over there now. Hi Woody!!!! 🙂

    Reply

  4. MikeWJ at TooManyMornings
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 18:52:24

    What a great post about the upsides and downsides to having this disease. My wife’s grandmother also was a wonderful woman, but in her final years she was convinced she’d taken a trip with her church friends to visit the moon. They went for a walk on the surface and everything. We loved that story, even after hearing it 1,000 times.

    Reply

  5. surveygirl46
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 19:49:18

    Hi Mike at TMM – Thanks for stopping by and leaving your nice comment. Great story about your grandma and the moon – it gets me to thinking about something though – how do we know that maybe the stories aren’t true after all? Not to go ZEN on you or anything – but when people enter a different mental state – the veil between the dimensions is open a wee bit more – TOTAL red pill environment….hmmm

    Reply

  6. FreakSmack
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 22:28:09

    I hope if I get to my 80’s I get Alzheimers, there was a time I paid damn good money to go on trips in my own head. A few freebies seems like a cool way to go out.

    Reply

  7. surveygirl46
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 22:48:31

    Ya know our “invisible” lives are so much more interesting when they entail hanging out with characters such as Hitler or riding that holy bus to the moon for a spell. It makes Fred and Ruth’s neighborhood BBQ you’re forced to attend just that more gray and colorless …

    Reply

  8. FreakSmack
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 23:41:36

    Exactly, but if I went to boring old Fred and Ruth’s house, and right after I got there Papa Smurf showed up with some party favors and beer… Now we got a party. Who cares if the “normals” have no clue what’s going on… I’m partying with Papa Smurf over here!

    Reply

  9. surveygirl46
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 23:45:29

    Well you have point BUT if you’re there and Papa Smurf is there – can’t you utilize him to maybe get rid of Fred and Ruth so the party can be really fun?

    Reply

  10. FreakSmack
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 01:56:58

    DAMN WOMAN… I’m dreaming of old age and living in a constant state of merry, and you’re trying to get me and Pappa S to snuff out Fred and Ruth? Just because they’re a bore? Remind me to stay on your good side… I’m into chillin not killin.

    Reply

  11. surveygirl46
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 02:44:23

    Who’s Mary? aren’t you going to miss having variety?

    Reply

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