The Case of the Missing Pants and Disinfected Shoes

Today is our 46th day visiting Ron’s mother in the Rehab/Nursing Home where she is receiving physical therapy and just trying to get her strength back from a lengthy hospital stay. It’s a painfully slow process.

She turns 90 this weekend and we are celebrating!

Her two grandchildren are flying in to honor their grandmother on this special occasion and we are busy making preparations. Our disappointment is that she won’t be making it home for this important day, so we are taking the party to her.

Every day has been a personal journey for the three of us, each in our own ways.

She…fighting acceptance and denial of age and situation.

Us…a roller coaster of emotions…as well as trying to keep a balance, mentally and physically.

We have been down this road before, and have learned that if we don’t maintain a sense of humor on a daily basis, we too will spiral into that hole we don’t want to get into.

Therefore, we laugh often…to keep from crying.

It’s at these times that we remind ourselves of the chorus in a Jimmy Buffet song:

“It’s these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”

When we made the transition from the hospital to Rehab, I let the staff know that I will do Mom’s laundry. But their special, informational sign: Family will do Laundry doesn’t appear on the closet door right away, as promised.

Hence, the case of the missing pants.

Within two days the light blue pants and the light green pants disappear.

“Well, did you mark them with her name?” they ask.

“No”, I reply. “I indicated that I would do her laundry and I have left a laundry bag in her closet for you to put her clothes in.”

“Well, you really need to mark them. They probably ended up in our laundry anyway. They’ll show up.”

No, they never showed up.

I immediately marked everything.

The next day, the dark blue pants are missing.

“Sorry, I’m sure they will show up since you marked them.”

Two weeks have gone by and we are missing three pairs of pants.

At this rate, Mom’s running out of pants and I’m laundering and returning clothes the very next day.

I decide to buy pants at Good Will (local thrift shop) wash them and take them to her the next day.

“Hi Mom. Look what I brought you. You need pants and I bought some for you.”

She won’t wear them because she does not recognize them as hers.

What she chooses to do is to be on the look out for whoever is wearing her pants and she will let them know “who really wears the pants.” I can just picture her in her wheel chair cruising the halls on the look out.

Sunday, Ron and I walk into her room and see an unmade bed and untidy room.

“Mom where are your shoes? Why aren’t you wearing them?”

“I don’t know. I guess someone took them.”

We notice a pair of shoes lying on the floor, but they are not hers. They are clearly marked with her room mate’s name. I realize now that I neglected to mark Mom’s shoes. Whoops!!

While Ron leaves the room to track down her shoes, Mom decides she wants to see if the shoes on the floor fit her, even though she knows they are not hers.  She scoots the wheel chair close to one shoe, bends down and with graceful agility retrieves it.  She’s adamant about getting it on her foot and getting agitated with me for not letting her try on these shoes. Ron looks for the room mate, who is in the hallway asleep in her wheelchair, and sure enough, she is wearing Mom’s shoes. He reports the situation to the nurse’s station.

When he comes back into the room, Mom announces, “Your wife wouldn’t allow me to try on the other shoes.” Her tone and relegating me to your wife clearly means I’m in trouble.

It’s time for a diversion and we three move out doors to a sitting area in the sun.

Mom is content for the time being and getting sleepy. She can’t keep her head up or her eyes open. I look down at her feet and chuckle. What a sight. No shoes, but she’s wearing stretched out socks which are being held up with tape. Ron’s idea.  She doesn’t like tight socks and these are falling off her feet…but, believe me, they have her name on them in huge letters.

About an hour later, I find the CNA (Certified Nurse’s Assistant) who is carrying Mom’s shoes back to her room.

“I disinfected your Mom’s shoes,” he says proudly as he hands them to me.

The insides are soaking wet. I take them outside, put them on the roof of our car to dry in the sun and rejoin Ron and Mom.

We then talk about the upcoming birthday party which she won’t acknowledge. She says she isn’t having a birthday and won’t say how old she will be. She gets confused and says, “how much?” instead of “how old?”

Ron replies, “You’re going to be $1.98, Mom.”

She laughs.

We talk about the grandkids coming and her face lights up. We were going to let them surprise her, but she needs something positive to focus on…except we have to remind her each day…each day…each day.

The shoes are now dry and I mark them inside and outside with my trusty permanent marker that stays in my purse.

As we leave this “friendly zoo,” Ron and I are reminded of more Jimmy Buffet lyrics:

“I’ve had good days and bad days
And going half mad days
I try to let go but you’re still on my mind
I’ve lost all the old ways
I’m searching for new plays
Putting it all on the line
.”

As we make the long drive back home, we laugh about the week’s events at the Nursing Home/Rehab center. The Las Vegas style singer who showed up in his turquoise flashy jacket to sing in front of a live audience. I watched and sang along with him as the residents one by one nodded off to sleep. And for those uninterested in musical entertainment, there is always BINGO and BLACK JACK across the hall.

We laugh about the fight Mom says she witnessed between two women and that she tried to break it up.

We laugh about the missing pants and the wet shoes.

Every day is a surprise and emotional…up one day…down the next, but the most important thing is Mom is surrounded by a loving, caring staff that provides the necessary medical treatment she needs. We couldn’t ask for anything more…even if we’re missing three pairs of pants.

We face with our loved one what many of you have already gone through. I sift through blogs regarding elder care, dementia and aging and always learn something new or make a connection.  I read inspirational writings that lift me up when I am down.

And we sing Jimmy Buffet songs.

** Ron (ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com) and I are obviously behind in our responding to comments, reading and liking new posts and generally keeping up with our blogging world.  There are weeks when I don’t think I can produce anything viable, but for both of us, blogging is a creative outlet that remains part of the positive balance we try to maintain in our lives. It will take a while to catch up.

We thank you for your understanding as we focus on Mom…celebrate her birthday…get her well…possibly get her home…and be her daily coach.

Happy 90th Birthday, Mom!

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About travelerlynne

Traveler. Writer. Retired Educator.Traveling on and off the beaten path with my photographer husband. Volunteering locally as well as in Haiti and Tanzania, an enriching and humbling experience. A sun lover! Shelling, boating, fishing and watching sunsets. Growing mango, banana, key lime,and pineapple.Making smoothies and chutneys. Enjoying family and friends! Savoring each new day!
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49 Responses to The Case of the Missing Pants and Disinfected Shoes

  1. adinparadise says:

    Happy birthday to Ron’s mother. It must be quite stressful for you both to see her like this, and I hope that she recovers enough to go home soon. Your sense of humour really shines through this post, Lynne. Blessings to you and your family as you celebrate. *hugs*

  2. Just so – and doing it together as a family is such a blessing Lynne – for all of you. Only seems like yesterday (when you write about it) that my poor mother was doing battle with every fibre of her being so she could return home after a stroke … humour, songs, togetherness, and love will get you through. Happy birthday to Ron’s Mum and hang in there you two :)

    • We are definitely hanging in there. What is the alternative? So sorry your mother had a stroke…such a difficult time for you. We had a wonderful birthday. Lots of love and laughter.

  3. I love how you all maintain your sense of humor during this difficult situation. Sometimes you just have to laugh about it. Jimmy Buffet songs are certainly a great way to keep some humor. And I love your mother-in-law’s determination to get in her wheelchair and find the thief who stole her pants!! The story of her shoes is too funny. And love how Ron answers “$1.98″ when she asks how much she is. When I’m old and in a nursing home, I hope I have someone looking after me with such a great sense of humor. :-)

    • So glad you found the humor in this, Cathy. Your comments have made me laugh all over again. We got through the birthday with fun and good cheer and the best news is that Mom is still in pretty good spirits and didn’t experience post party depression like we feared, especially with her grandchildren flying back home.

  4. i admire your attitude and tolerance! Once would be funny for me, twice might be funny for me, but a third time of ‘walk-away’ pants would be pushing my patience. Thank you so much for sharing this story – it was as if we were right there with you!
    Z

  5. What a delightful good humoured chronicle of what could have been a very difficult time. The picture of your mom in her wheelchair hunting down the pants thief is priceless! A big big happy birthday to her 90 is an amazing milestone to reach. And all strength to you and your family as you support her in her last years. Many blessings

    • Am glad you also found the humor in this story. It is my survival tool. We had a wonderful party and built together happy memories. She has been exhausted for several days following all the hoopla, but so far remains cheerful and not depressed since everyone has returned to their normal lives…except for her. Thanks for your well wishes..

  6. Lynne, your post touched my heart. My husband and I have similar situations. By the way, his name is Ron, too. In Spanish it means rum, which he needs a lot of when he calls his mother on Skype in her nursing home in the states. It’s very frustrating trying to call her because she is hard of hearing. Even with a hearing aid, she can only understand low tone voices over the phone. The conversation usually goes like this: “Mom, this is Ron,” he says in baritone. “Who?” she asks. “Ronnie, your son,” he repeats. “Who?”, she asks. This goes on for about 3 minutes, then she says, “You must have the wrong number,” as she hangs up the phone. It’s very frustrating living in Nicaragua and worrying about our aging parents. We make frequent trips back to the states. I handle my mom’s finances online. Thank God for the internet and Skype because that is our only means of communication. You are so right. Sometimes you gotta see the humor…or you’ll cry in the pain and frustration of it all. Thanks for your wonderful post.

    • I am chuckling over the conversation Ron (rum) has with his mother in the states. How frustrating and yet humorous at the same time. You’re so right, without internet and Skype, communication with our elderly loved ones, countries apart, would be impossible. The party turned out to be lots of love and laughter. Days latter she is still glowing and not depressed.

  7. Madhu says:

    A heartwarming story that made me chuckle Lynne :-) Love Ron’s moms feisty spirit and the way you two are handling this difficult time with humour and grace. Happy birthday to mom! And best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    • Thanks for your well wishes, Madhu. Mom’s a fighter and she may surprise us and make it home. We have survived the birthday bash with love and humor…now for the holidays. Just hope we can get through them with humor and grace.

  8. Happy birthday, Ron’s MOM! Keep singing the old songs with her; when my mother had her stroke and couldn’t speak, she still was able to sing along to “You Are My Sunshine.” Every word was perfect.

  9. frangipani says:

    Happy Birthday to Ron’s Mom! Wishing her a steady recovery, and hope she’s completely back to her usual self soon.

  10. ilargia64 says:

    Lynne…You are right…Humour and songs and love… Happiness helps to survive more than anything else!!! A sincere hug , a kiss, sometimes brings more warm to our heart and more light to our brain than any drug…
    My congratulations to Ron´s mom and to the rest of you!

  11. letizia says:

    Such a beautiful,heartwarming, funny post, Lynne. I do hope you find those pants soon. I had to laugh when everyone was on the look out for her clothes. Warm hugs to you and happy birthday to Ron’s mom!

  12. Paula says:

    Beautifully written and touching ,Lynne..Humor can save the day….

  13. Gigi Galore says:

    Oh Lynne! How beautiful! This is a very funny and heartfelt story, one that you are living, together, all together. Your love and humour shine through, May they hold you up ! my love to you both, to you all! :)

  14. vb holmes says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Wishs for Ron’s Mother on her 90th Birthday! And hope all goes well from here on in….

    • Thank you VB. She had a great birthday and I informed her she had well wishes from my blogging world… which we have now added to our list of humorous moments. Try to explain that to her…

  15. What a beautiful and moving post! Just as well you all have a sense of humour – the ageing process is no joke as it is (no actual pun intended there!). Take care, and don’t worry about us. We’ll be here when you get back :)

    • Am pleased you shared with me the humor and seriousness of our situation. Our grown children who flew in for the party got quite a dose of the aging process which led to some lengthy discussions with us. We are all in this together at some point.

  16. Nikki says:

    This is such a moving post! I love how you are able to keep your sense of humor over the visitation and the ever changing emotions. Dealing with dementia is hard. We want our loved ones to remember us but really, they become like a toddler again. I am experiencing this with my dad at the present time. A mild case of dementia though. He is unable to remember who I am at times. It hurts. At least Ron’s mother gets interaction from people who still love her and not leave it to the nursing staff. Keep it up, please. It takes a lot but really, the world is round. One day we will be cared for by people who love us!

  17. Beautiful thoughts,Nikki. You are so right about the world is round and hopefully we will be cared for by loved ones. It is always a challenge and of course caregivers have to take care of themselves. Your father is lucky to have you, even if he doesn’t always know you.

  18. Lynne, this is wonderful, poignant, sweetly funny, enduring and endearing.
    I’ll warn you now: you probably will never get back the missing pants, of if you do, you won’t want them. But the shoes drying on top of your car make me laugh, and as you’ll figure out the longer this goes on with your mom, laughter really is the best, and only, medicine.
    Keep plenty of permanent markers with you and if you must, even write your mother’s name on one of her hands, and on the other hand write that she’s yours and they better not lose her!
    Happy birthday to your mother, and blessings on you and your family. I hope it’s a wonderful day!

  19. Thank you Marilyn for you well wishes and cheery, useful advice. I intend to mark everything. The party is behind us, now and we have great memories to share…also a lot of laughs and love.

  20. Tahira says:

    Such a wonderful loving post, Lynne. Makes one remember what is truly important in life.

  21. Thanks, Tahira for your comment.Right now, we find that laughter is the best medicine.Our grown children who flew in for her birthday went home with a dose of “old age” reality…the realities for their grand mother but also for us, the care givers.

  22. It is not always easy to maintain a sense of humor during difficult times. Sounds like you have a great outlook. I can only imagine how frustrating the pant situation was for you. My grandpa just made it to 90 and I still marvel at what an accomplishment that was and how thankful I was to spend the time with him. Best wishes to your family.

    • Thanks you for your kind comment and visit. How wonderful it was for you to enjoy your grandfather at age 90 and to be able to spend time together. My mother-in-law is determined to make it home and she may surprise us all. Thank you for your well wishes.

  23. eof737 says:

    What a touching story and an important one for us all to read. She is truly loved and it shows… Don’t worry, I’m behind too. :-)
    ¸.•*¨*•.♪♫♫♪Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you! .♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸ ♥
    ˜”*°•.˜”*°•.˜”*°•.★★.•°*”˜.•°*”˜.•°*”˜”

  24. Thank you Elizabeth for your endearing comment. We are indeed blessed and grateful. How did you ever put the musical addition in? It makes me smile.

  25. eof737 says:

    Sending you peace, love and holiday cheer!
    Eliz

  26. Hans Mann says:

    You touched me very deep with your personal story. The sense of your story is a sign of hope in very difficult times. We´ve been through difficult time for 14 years with my father in law, and now we attend my mother through the time she slowly forgets who she is and where she is ….

    Thank you for your warmful thoughts,

    Hans

    • Hans, thank you so much for your comment. Taking care of aging parents is a difficult task and I find that there are so many of us who are facing this. Sometimes all we can do is draw strength from someone else’s experience. I hope you have some help with your mother. It is hard. Best of everything in the days ahead.

  27. Hi Lynne,
    I have been wondering how you are and how everything is going with you and your. It is quite a time since you wrote this and there has been nothing since, which tells me that Life is keeping you busy. I trust that all is well and that your mother has come through this difficult patch. I wish you strength and God’s blessings at this season.

  28. Denise Hisey says:

    Happy 90th Birthday Party!!!
    Here’s wishing for a reunion with the missing pants as a special additon to the birthday celebration!

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