Red Handed

The weather in my part of the world has been throwing us some nasty curves this winter season. Temperatures well below normal, crippling ice storms and snowfall amounts approaching dramatic levels.

The good news is I know my mother is safe and being cared for in the assisted living facility where she now lives. Staff members who are not permanent residents are provided room and board at the facility during the storms, which not only ensures their safety, but guarantees a full staff level. And the facility has full generator backup in case of power losses and maintains a full larder in the kitchen.

The not-so-good news is I have been unable to visit my mother on a regular basis. So I keep in touch with her by phone. And I have stocked her pantry, so I am confident she has all the personal care items she needs. The kicker has been that monstrous mound of dirty laundry invading her closet.

In previous posts, I have referenced my mother’s recent inability to keep up with laundry duty. And how I had decided to take over the task myself. At least until it becomes a routine event for my mother to have someone else do it for her. Then I can arrange for the facility’s housekeeping staff to take over.

On the morning of our first weather-clear day, I armed myself with two heavy-duty industrial-sized black plastic bags and prepared to do battle. Now I know I need to mentally prepare my mother for any changes in her daily routine, but I also knew that if I gave her too much warning that I was coming to pickup her laundry, she would fight me tooth and nail.

So, I called her before I left and blatantly lied by telling her I was on my way. Because I would rather have a heated argument over the phone than a shouting match in her room. I told her that I was going to pickup her laundry, take it to my house to do, then bring it back that afternoon.

And I got the reaction I thought I would. She was madder than a soaked hen. She didn’t want me to do her laundry for her. She could do it herself. And no…I was wrong…she had plenty of clean bed linens. To prove her point, she told me to hold the phone while she looked in the cupboard where her clean sheets are kept. And she found what I knew she would: two pillowcases. No sheets.

That discovery changed her tune a bit. Nothing like physical evidence to prove a point. So I crossed the two fingers on my right hand hidden behind my back and made a bogus deal with her. I will do her laundry this time, since there was so much to do, and she could take over going forward. That appeased her. For the moment.

When I got to her room, I pulled the plastic bags from my coat pocket and opened her closet. She asked me what were the bags for? I told her: dirty laundry. She was surprised. In the half-hour since I had spoken to her on the phone, she had forgotten I was going to pickup her laundry. Which meant we had to reenact the entire verbal battle. Including a peek into the linen cupboard for another look at those two lonely pillowcases.

My only disappointment is that I was not able to grab her dirty laundry without any fanfare. Because both of those heavy-duty industrial-sized black plastic bags were filled to capacity with four sets of bed linens, more than a dozen towels, at least 14 pairs of underwear and other assorted items. Instead, I found myself caught red-handed, clutching two monstrous laundry bags. Simply because I had to prepare her for what I needed to do.

Hey…no worries. The laundry beast has been tamed. It no longer invades her closet. And hopefully I will now be able to quickly and quietly grab her dirty laundry each time I go for a visit, returning it on my next visit.

Sure beats the red-handed gig. Any day.


4 thoughts on “Red Handed

  1. When my Mom was in assisted living she had begun to gain weight , one day while visiting I complimented her on her nice outfit she was wearing n she said ” Im glad you filled my closet with YOUR clothes , because mine would never fit now ! lol
    She never believed her clothes were hers ……………………..

  2. Yow-za! And I am chuckling with you, not at you! Well, as long as she was happy with “your” clothes, that is all that matters, isn’t it? My mother has clothing memories from 20-plus years ago. Which is why I have a suitcase stashed in her closet with items she can no longer wear, so they are accessible when she asks about them. One of my latest challenges is that she believes I have all of her belongings at my house….from when she lived independently, before she moved into assisted living. She has forgotten the decisions we made about her stuff during the moving process. Most times I can dance around that belief, but sometimes I have to tell her straight out that I don’t have a particular item. Makes for an uncomfortable conversation, but sure beats lying to her. And I try to avoid lying to her as much as possible.

    • I can understand why it makes you uncomfortable to lie to your mother (our moms always insisted we tell the truth!) but sometimes, if it makes the going easier for you and for her, lying is a forgivable offense. I say this because, as you found out with your mom not remembering your conversation about the laundry, very often what is said and done is lost soon afterward anyway. It’s like when I finally quit correcting my mother over who was who in the family (“No, Sarah is your granddaughter, not your daughter. And I’m your daughter, not your former mother-in-law.”) We would just go with the flow. She was happier that way and so were we. And, I eventually gave in and let her facility take care of her laundry because they could keep up with all the changes of bedding more quickly than I could, even though I was close by.

  3. Yes I am hoping to have the facility housekeeping take care of her laundry, once she gets used to someone else doing it for her. And I know it is only a matter of time before my mother will no longer remember who is who in our family. She is starting to show signs of that now. In the end, the only thing that really matters is that she is happy.

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