Adventures in Alzheimer’s – Spherical produce edition

by Julie Frayn on February 4, 2015 in  Adventures in Alzheimer's,Mama Bird

Once a week or so, either baby girl or I take Mom grocery shopping. It’s a good way to get her out of the house, get her a little exercise, and not be stuck with the ramblings about her broken television and her twisted take on the news (more on that in another adventure).

A quick trip to the grocery store – sounds easy, right? Uh, no. It’s no longer just a trip, it’s a trek. An excursion has turned into an odyssey. A quick trip means minimum three hours. A regular one is five. Baby girl, being much more patient and kind than her mother, is often gone for seven and more.

It’s not just that Mom moves slow. It’s that everything must be examined, discussed, analyzed. Twenty minutes on the benefits of one particular brand of honey over another. So, Mom, which honey do you want?

“Honey? I don’t need honey.”

And we shuffle on.

Mom has become enamored with Wal-Mart. She is amazed at the vast array of options, more than in any other store ever in the whole universe. Of course, if I took her to the 7-11, she’d say the same thing. Everything is the most, the best, the worst, ever. In history. It’s kind of endearing. When it isn’t annoying.

On our last trip for groceries, in the produce department, Mom picked up an orange. She tossed it in the air and caught it a few times, then held it and gave me a knowing look. “Can you tell I used to be a ball player?” And she laughed.

That’s my Mom, Anna Banana Irene Slugger Lowe. Softball player for a few years. Hasn’t played since, when? Grade eleven? But that’s what she is, what she identifies with. She’s a ball player. Pretty sweet.

Me & my parents, 1976. When fruit was just fruit.

Me & my parents, 1976. When fruit was just fruit.

We looked at cantaloupes and honeydews and tried to recall which of them she likes. She picked one up and tossed it in the air a few times, gave me a knowing look and said, “Can you tell I used to be a ball player?” And she laughed.

It was agreed she didn’t like either melon, especially since the cantaloupes were so gnarly and misshapen. We moved onto grapefruit but before she could toss one in the air, I reminded her that she wasn’t allowed grapefruit because it reacted with her Lipitor.

“I can’t? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that?”

Sigh.

On to apples. She picked one up, tossed it in the air. Put it down. Picked up another, tossed it in the air a few times, gave me a knowing look and said, “Can you tell I used to be a ball player?” And she laughed.

Welcome to my new life. A life on a constant loop. Permanent play-rewind-replay. Of course she’s making good use of the erase function too.

She picked up a third type of apple and tossed it in the air. I readied for the ball player comment, but she surprised me. “Fuji? What kind of apple is that?”

I always try to make her laugh, so I said “A Japanese apple.” (Who knows, maybe it is).

She said “It sounds like I’m mad at you.” She got an angry face on, her eyes bulging. She held the apple up to my face and shook it like a fist. “FUJI!” she yelled.

And we both laughed.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn Frayn February 4, 2015 at 12:18 pm

“It’s kind of endearing. When it isn’t annoying.” Yah… thank you for being able to find and share the humour amongst all the crap in our lives. This is wonderful. ♥ ♥ ♥

Reply

Julie Frayn February 4, 2015 at 12:50 pm

You’re welcome. I’ve said it before, have to laugh or we’d cry. Crying sucks. And as you know, Mom loves to laugh. ♥♥♥

Erin February 4, 2015 at 12:33 pm

This is poignant and lovely and sad and funny – it’s a rare gift to be able to achieve so much in so few sentences. It does not surprise me that your mom is a remarkable woman, given the daughters she raised. Terrific entry, Julie – much love to you all. xxxxx

FUJI! Haha I will never look at another apple without thinking of your mom. ❤️

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Julie Frayn February 4, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Thanks Erin! Fuji to you to, love! ♥

Ey Wade February 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm

It’s like a pink, cotton candy, fluffy nightmare. You have all of the concerned, compassionate love on the peripheral while in the midst, you’re beaten up by the incidents of repeat and forgetfulness. Trying to remember she’s the mom, yet having to be the dominant one and try to guide her on some semblance of a path.
Yeah, Fuji fits perfectly.

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Julie Frayn February 4, 2015 at 1:37 pm

You nailed it. In addition to trying to remember who the parent is, I’ve had to apply to be her legal guardian. Took me a couple of months to get the paperwork in. It feels so very odd…

mary February 5, 2015 at 3:32 am

Lovely post, Julie. It reminded me of taking dad (The Goldfish) shopping in our local supermarket. He was constantly amazed about how much of everything there was on the shelves and really enjoyed a shopping trip in a way he never would before dementia set in. I wondered if he was remembering the past – like your mum – but thinking not of when he was a ball player but of post-war times when there really wouldn’t have been supermarkets bursting at the seams.
I love the Fuji story – think I’ll adopt it into my lexicon.

Reply

Julie Frayn February 5, 2015 at 6:41 am

It’s like the world is brand new every day. I have to remind myself constantly that she isn’t seeing what I see, thinking how I think. It’s kind of like being mother to a toddler again, helping them discover all the new things in their life. Thanks, Mary. Hugs to you.

Nancy's Point February 6, 2015 at 7:49 am

Hi Julie,
Gosh, you really gave me an idea about what this disease is like by talking about a ‘simple’ trip to the grocery store with your dear mom. You write with such compassion and humor, but mostly with love. Thank you for writing this. It’s a beautifully written, heart-felt post.

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Julie Frayn February 6, 2015 at 8:11 am

Thanks, Nancy. I find if I sit on each of these instances for a few days or more, I can find the humour in them all. There are times in the heat of the moment that frustration is high. But shopping isn’t too frustrating, except for 20 minute honey discussions that yield no honey in the cart :)

Susan Baker February 6, 2015 at 8:46 am

Wonderful story. How it sounds like my dad. He doesn’t have Alzheimer’s but examines everything he buys, wven though he has baught the same brand for years. God forbid they change the package. Walmart is his favorite store and he too is amazed at their vast offerings. God bless you for being there for your mom when she needs you most.

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Julie Frayn February 7, 2015 at 8:46 am

Thanks for visiting and commenting, Susan. Mom was always picky and read labels. But, like everything else with dementia, it’s amplified and repeated ad nauseum. A label read becomes three or four read-throughs, like the mail she gets and she has to read me the address (her address) four times and the senders address the same. Very bizarre. Mostly harmless. But so time consuming…. :)

Kathi February 7, 2015 at 8:30 am

The only way to keep the manifestations of Alzheimer’s from breaking one’s heart is to find the humor in it. And, thank goodness, there is some. It does try one’s patience, let’s face it. And thank goodness, your mom can still laugh and not just feel terrified all the time. I hate Alzheimer’s the most when I’m working with someone who knows she used to be competent, then suddenly realizes — again — that she can’t remember how to do something she knows she used to do, and can’t remember why she can’t do it anymore. And then is suddenly very afraid, and cries. *sigh* Alzheimer’s sucks. Big hugs to all of you. xoxo

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Julie Frayn February 7, 2015 at 8:48 am

Kathi, my mom goes through that all the time. I’ll do a post where I got mad and yelled at her. It’s not always easy to find the humour, or to simply nod and smile. I made my mother cry. Worst daughter ever…. But not. I know not. But damn.

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