Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's REALLY Not Good for the Man to Be Alone!

At a loss for hearing words

Funny how words are transformed (or should I say deformed) when one's hearing isn't at full capacity.

Robert and I are starting to experience this phenomenon with each other. Life takes on a whole new comedic dimension.

The "Job"

But this past Friday it was my dear, sweet father-in-law who provided the laugh. Since his little studio needed desperately to be cleaned, I volunteered to do the job. Now, this shouldn't be necessary because the facility he lives in tacks on a tidy little sum for their housemaids to clean his apartment. But clearly, the housemaids are not as tidy as the sum they collect.

The bathroom was atrocious. With a 92-year-old male, who is wobbly on his feet being the sole resident ("it is not good for man to live alone" - boy, howdy! was God ever right about that!), perhaps you can begin to picture the need for a good cleaning in the bathroom. Believe me when I say, however, that I had not come close to imagining it to be in the condition it was. (What have those housemaids been doing for 2 years every Thursday in Dad's tiny studio when they should have been cleaning?)

Well, by now I'm just a little bent out of shape, rehearsing in my mind what I'll say to management (I'm capable of such lovely thoughts NOT!). But back to the story...

The "Other Thing"

Dad is sleeping in his recliner for most of the three hours I'm cleaning his itty-bitty place - specifically his bathroom and just part of the kitchen. Once in a while he wakes and says, "Sharon...are you still here?" No one ever took so long to clean before, obviously.

So I take to trying to explain to him why I'm there so long. "You know, Dad, as it turns out, no one that we call the cleaning lady, has ever really scrubbed this place." I'm telling him that I plan to talk to management. I tell him that I'm planning now to come and clean weekly. And I'm telling him this and that and the other thing. I think it was the "other thing" that threw him off. But I didn't find out what the "other thing" was until I was back home and he called me.


Back up a bit. While I was telling him this, that and the other thing, he hung his head and said, "I feel bad that you think you have to do that." Now I thought he was referring to my cleaning his wee little abode once a week. Wrong!

Anyway, I tried to comfort him by telling him that I enjoyed mopping up, scrubbing down, chiseling off, digging out and hauling away the stuff that should never be a part of one's domicile. I gave him the line - you know the line - about how you love spending time with the person who feels this case spending time working my already-boney fingers down even closer to the bone. (But, really, I do enjoy being with him!) Seems he wasn't convinced though.

Rewind X 2

Backing up even more...Why is it that older folks hang onto everything? Dad eats downstairs in the dining room. He doesn't always finish his meal. I don't know that from watching him eat. I know that from opening his refrigerator and finding 789 little styrofoam containers (that might be a slight exaggeration), complete with lids, filled with every leftover food item he'd not eaten in the dining room for the past two years, now unrecognizable as food, of course.

Then  there was the plastic cutlery. Naturally, Dad had saved them - all of them, carefully carrying them from the dining room to his tiny, space-challenged kitchenette, where they remained untouched after he'd meticulously arranged them in the hundreds of sytrofoam cups (perhaps another exaggeration) he also transported. After all, you never know when a whole warehouse load of flimsy forks, knives and spoons will come in handy while you live alone and already have enough stainless steel cutlery to feed a large family. You just never know now, do you?

The Phone Call

Well, since this post is about Dad's hearing loss and the "other thing" that he heard me say that I know I never would have said in an eternity - since that's what this post is all about - I guess I ought to cut to the chase.

So, I get home and the phone rings 30 minutes later. It's Dad. He begins, "Well, I just spent a half hour talking to management and told them about your plans. Forget it! They aren't going for it."

Now you have to understand that I still think he's talking about me coming once a week to clean. You also have to understand that my dear 92-year-old father-in-law is not easy to understand, especially over the phone. His dentures don't fit right and it sounds like he's talking under water...with a New York accent to boot. I'm a country girl so it wasn't easy deciphering that first part. But it all went downhill from there.

The next part of the phone conversation with Dad took me back to the play telephones my sister and I used to make from cans when we were kids - you know when you played that game called "gossip". What I heard was something like, "Herna merewp mleir my place erhaotppt fainting." Fainting? I asked, "Dad could you repeat that?"

"I said, jeoruaptn mof o feia said you oofb lomojne shouldn't be bereag sainting. You gotta give up that idea! (Every once in a while he comes through loud and clear.)

"Give up what idea? I'm sorry, but could you please say that again, Dad?" Now he articulated, "u owper gotta jdf g forget about fainting!"

"Dad, did you say, F-A-I-N-T-I-N-G?" I've resorted to spelling to Dad now. "You ads tun cdf can't paint.!" Oh! He said "PAINT". I can't paint. He's telling me that I can't PAINT!

"But Dad, I never said I was going to PAINT. I said I was going to CLEAN once a week."

"Well, forget it. They won't let you do that. They hire their own painters."

Play it again, Sam Dad

Oh well, I guess I'll just show up next Thursday to clean. Most likely I'll throw out two dozen more forks, and knives and spoons and 27 more little styro-containers from the frige. And Dad and I will talk.

I'll keep you posted about the dialog.

Newer Post Older Post

    Share This


  1. Thank you for this post. I had a very good laugh over this. I have been there and will be there again soon with my own father soon. Thanks for the example of "going the extra mile" cleaning for your father-in-law.

  2. HA I am going through that with my mom...she has early stage altzheimers...she starts conversations in the middle of a thought...asks the same question ever 5 minutes...and our conversations are very just have to keep a sense of humor. But you should hear her altzheimers there!