To My Kids: In Case of Dementia, Read This.

Hi kids. If you are reading this, it must mean that the dementia finally got me. That sucks. For me, certainly, but mostly for you because your minds, unlike mine, are presumably still functional enough to see what’s happening. I know how much it sucks because as you may recall, I’ve been in your shoes when my dad had the same disease. Which, obviously, is exactly why I’m writing this: we can call it an Advance Dementia Directive. It is not, as you might suspect, simply because I am bossy and rather particular in my tastes.  

Actually, it is that. But it’s also because I want you to have the guidance and advice that Pap Pap never got to give me.

So here you go. Please don’t treat these requests as optional. I do believe in life after life, so follow these recommendations or suffer the wrath of Ghost Mommy. I dare you!

Ghost Mommy may have lost a few pounds.

1.  Feel free to laugh at me, if I do or say something funny. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. It doesn’t matter if I meant to be funny, it doesn’t even matter if I understand why you’re laughing. I will not take it personally and my confusion will not linger. Laugh. It’s about the only good you will get out of this, so take it when you can. 

2.  Soft clothing. I don’t care if it looks like a tablecloth or set of curtains. For that matter I don’t care if it is a tablecloth or set of curtains. If it’s soft, I will wear it. Dress me in jeans and you’ll be checking under your bed every night for the rest of your lives, and trust me, haunted-mommy-under-the-bed will be way uglier than even early-morning-trying-to-finish-writing-something-but-you-two-won’t-quit-arguing-over-a-Playstation-game-mommy. 

3.  Nursing homes might try to tell you that I have nutritional needs. I do not. Their only goal is to keep from getting sued. Tell them I must eat what I like and if that means all of my meals include pureed cinnamon rolls, so be it. I’m not going to get any healthier. Let me have the goddamned sugar. 

Extra credit: push me uphill in a wheelchair while carrying a man bag.

4.  Very important: socks. I HATE WHEN MY SOCKS ARE BAGGY AND FALLING OFF MY FEET. Please, I am begging you, make sure my socks are tight, but not so tight that they cut off my circulation. You know what, I’m just going to buy my own socks. I’m going to start stockpiling them now, then I’ll attach them to this letter and you can tell all my grandchildren, “You know, this is just like Grandma! Always solving problems! Always living her best life!” And so on. 

5.  Come to see me. At the very least hologram yourselves into my room, as I’m sure that will be a thing by then. 

6.  While you’re there, make friends with the other residents. They’ll be happier for it and so will you. 

7.  On days you can’t make it, hologram a Tom Petty concert into my room and follow it up with Prince. I’ll make some playlists. I don’t want to hear any of the songs I don’t like. If I cry while listening to those songs, know that you have done well. 

My room at the nursing home.

8.  While I’m on the subject, hologrammed Golden Girls episodes would be super-fun; either that or perhaps there can be some kind of virtual reality (perhaps one of you can invent it!) where I’ll actually be in a Golden Girls episode. With cheesecake! It’s a dream come true.

9.  You can bring your kids to see me if you like, but it’s not required. HAHAHAHAHA! You’re thinking, WHAT??? Not required? Then how come WE had to go see YOUR DAD all the time? I’ll tell you why, it’s because you were good kids and you knew it was the right thing. If you’re raising little hellions that refuse to visit their grandmother, that’s your problem, not mine. 

10.  If I become mean or otherwise not myself, know that I love you. 

11.  When I seem distant and disengaged, know that I love you. 

12.  When I say things that don’t make sense, know that I love you.

13.  When I stare out the window instead of smiling at you, know that I love you.

14.  When I don’t know your names or who you are at all, know that I love you, KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU. 

15.  Lastly – if your father is the one to get dementia instead of me: well, it’s hard to imagine nice socks and Golden Girls holograms will keep him happy. Maybe send him into the woods with antlers strapped to his head. I don’t know.

Just kidding. Be nice to Daddy.

We both love you.



By The Time You Finish Reading This You’ll Wish You Had A Torn Meniscus Too

You don’t always get choices about what happens to you in life. Things happen. Sometimes that thing is that you tear your meniscus and it turns into a dragged-out affair in which you take way too much ibuprofen and eventually have to walk with a cane. All because the insurance company seems to prefer that you live with the pain for several months before you are permitted to have the surgery that will fix it. Because that is how they roll. 

And some people – I feel kind of bad for these people – might believe that having to use a cane is bad news all around. How old am I, anyway? they might think. Or, oh I just wish this pain would go away and I could walk normally again! This is a shame, because all they really need to do is to realize that there is such a thing as a “Stiletto Rapier Cane.” Then, instead of feeling elderly-ish and sad when they’re walking down the street, they can feel more like a movie villain with a deadly walking stick. The product description of the “Stiletto Rapier Cane” boasts that it makes “walking a pleasure and defending yourself truly possible.” As I hobble down any given street, leaning on my entirely average cane, I project an aura that says, “Go ahead, try to take my purse. Try to even speak to me, because I feel rather introverted today and there is a lethal weapon inside this cane with which I will not hesitate to take your right arm off.” 

Actually now I see that the “Stiletto Rapier Cane” has been discontinued. No matter. The website has a whole category called “Sword Canes,” and the fact that such a thing exists is really all you need to know. I was never suggesting you actually buy one. Please don’t. Just adopt the attitude. Like me. 

This is what they call the bright side. 

Next time I think I’ll pick one like this.

Life got even better for me after I finally had the surgery and was released from the hospital with an actual walker. They were going to give me crutches but then they saw my tremendously unstable gait and decided a walker would be much easier. The nurse seemed surprised that I didn’t protest. “People your age generally don’t want the walker,” she said. Apparently when you are 46 like me, you are supposed to want crutches because they give a more youthful appearance. “Oh yeah? Well, whatevs,” I told her, to show how young I really am.  

I am considering buying a basket for the front of the walker and using it forever. Imagine having something to lean on, everywhere you go. You’re crossing the parking lot to visit your dad at the nursing home and you feel like you need a break sometimes, am I right? And then, even better, you get to actually go in to the nursing home — with a walker! Now you can feel like one of the gang. No more worries about not fitting in. It’s like being in eighth grade and finally getting your ears pierced when all your friends have had earrings for years. Fabulous. 

Today I am going to unwrap the bandage from my knee and I’m telling you, it will be like taking off a painful pair of shoes after a long night at a wedding of people you don’t particularly like. It will be so wonderful that I may actually cry, and then I will take some more of my pain pills and point at things I need my kids to bring to me. “My Kindle,” I’ll say. “It’s right over there… can you get it? Oh, and while you’re up, I could probably use the ice pack too.” 

Honestly, though. I mean, if I’m being perfectly honest, I guess I’m not really anxious to tear my other meniscus. I’ll be glad to put this minor injury – because it is truly quite minor, in the grand scheme of things – behind me. But if I do end up in this situation again, I will know how to look on the bright side. Because as I tell people all the time, there is always a goddamned bright side.