Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Last month my sister was out to dinner with Mom and two of our cousins. A woman at an adjacent table kept looking over at them, finally speaking up when they got up to leave. She praised my sister on being such a wonderful care partner to our mother, told her that she was a See's Candy rep, and asked if she could send Mom a box of chocolates. The Other Girl replied that Mom loved chocolates and that as Mom's birthday was the following week, the gift would be that much more special. My sister promptly forgot all about it until the chocolates arrived, as promised, on our doorstep on Valentine's Day (Mother's birthday). Mom is all grins when a box of chocolates gets open, and as she munched away The Other Girl relayed the story to me. That got me thinking...
YOU MEAN WE COULD BE GETTING SWAG FROM THIS DEMENTIA THING!? FREE STUFF? FOR FREE??? Why didn't someone tell me this before?
A little background here; my father was notoriously cheap. About 90% of the stories told at his memorial involved his frugality, each one of which had us laughing through our tears.
I once drove with my father from Oregon City to Canby, a distance of about 9 miles, in which my dad was ELATED to show me that he had found a route that allowed him to coast all the way to our destination, thus saving him pennies in gas money. I'm talking cheap.
I, being my father's daughter, have inherited a bit of this trait. Not to the legendary extent that my father achieved, but I light up like a bone-dry Christmas tree on fire at the prospect of getting something, anything for free.
So... I've been trying very hard lately to recreate my sister's experience.
At restaurants, movie box office lines, the Clinique counter, I tell Mom, "Act sad. Then when I say something to you look real happy, like I just handed you the keys to the kingdom, okay, Mom?" She will acquiesce, but my mother was never much of an actress, and I'm pretty sure she's not really listening to me anyway, just proffering what she guesses is the appropriate response to shut me up.
I had high hopes when we went to a piano recital at a piano store that we would be coming home with a piano! "Look crazy, Mom." She had already complied because, you know... it's her natural look these days, but nothing. Nobody offered us a piano, or piano lessons, or even volunteered directions to the bathroom when it was obvious that we needed one.
Clearly, I'm doing something wrong. Perchance it's the very act of attempting to leverage my mother's condition into free goods and services. Most likely there's some amoral behavior in there, but I gotta tell 'ya, my dad would be proud.