published in Aging, Caregiving, Family, Fatherhood, Relationships by Maryanne | January 18, 2016

Pussies and Erection Day – Hard of Hearing Humour

 

Carleton, Dad & MA selfie Jan 2016

Carleton, Dad & MA

 “The problem with aging is not that it’s one damn thing after another…it’s every damn thing, all at once, all the time.”

― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

After the family wedding and mini-vacation in Banff in early January, I headed on to Linden, Alberta to visit my Dad, who has dementia, in his care home.

On the first day, there were multiple Pope’s in attendance and – after a family meeting with staff and caregivers in which we brainstormed ways in which his sedation medication could be reduced – there was much hooting and hollering in the main hall…by everyone, it seemed, but my Dad.

He was pretty out of it. As such, he didn’t participate much in the boisterous family conversation. In fact, he scarcely opened his eyes. But when we laughed loud enough to rouse him, he’d open his eyes a crack, take a peek around, smile and then nod off again.

MA, Dad & Pat selfie Jan 2016

MA, Dad & Pat

Interestingly, I find that taking selfies with my Dad seems to get more of a reaction (i.e. a smile!) from him – possibly because he can see the action on the phone screen in front of him.

Carleton, Dad, Mary, MA & Pat Jan 2016

L to R: Carleton, Mary, Dad, Pat & George

Anyway, after my brother, George, had finished feeding Dad his lunch, one of the caregivers came up to us and placed her hand on my shoulder. She spoke with a beautiful Spanish accent.

“You must be Alex’s daughter?” she said.

I nodded.

She giggled then asked me: “Did you hear what your Dad said on Election Day?”

I shook my head. George smiled; he’d already heard the story.

“Well,” said the caregiver. “Last fall, when the federal election was on, I said to your Dad, ‘Today is election day, Alex!’ To which he’d opened his eyes and said loudly, “Erection Day?! What does that entail?”

The caregiver threw back her head and laughed. “No, no, no,” she said, “It’s ELECTION Day! People are voting.”

“Phew,” had been my Dad’s relieved response. “For a second there, I was worried. I mean, I wouldn’t want to underperform.”

Well, apparently that little comment had given the entire staff the laugh of the week 🙂

And then, on rather the same theme, on the second day of my early January visit, it was just me and my Dad hanging out. After lunch, I was wheeling him through the halls and, perhaps because there had been a slight reduction in his anti-anxiety medication as a result of the family meeting the day before, he was feeling perky enough to sing me my favourite song, It’s A Long Way to Tipperary, not once but twice.

Mind you, his eyes were still closed. Until, that is, another caregiver – a nice Mennonite lady – suddenly appeared in front of us, about ten feet away. Okay, so you’ve got my Dad, who has his eyes closed and me, of course not wearing my glasses – which perhaps explains why her question caught both of us by surprise.

“Do you like pussies?” she called out to us.

Boing! Boy, did my Dad’s eyes open fast. And so much for not being able to hear very well.

And my mouth dropped open. Perhaps judging from the shocked look on our faces, she quickly reworded her question.

“Pussycats!” she said, walking towards us. “Alex, do you like cats?”

As I wheeled my Dad closer towards her, I could see she was holding a tiny kitten in a blanket in her arms.

“Oh!” I said, reaching out to pet the kitty, beyond embarrassed but trying to recover as gracefully as possible. “How sweet…”

Frankly, I suspect my Dad was a bit disappointed.

After a brief visit with the kitten, we continued on our way.

“Alex!” exclaimed the next caregiver we came across, “it’s so good to see your eyes open!”

Behind him, I threw back my head and laughed. Whatever it takes, I reckon 🙂

Related blog by Maryanne:

The 82-Year-Old-Man Who Got in a Car and Went on an Adventure

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, please sign up here.

4 Comments

  1. Nora on January 20th, 2016 at 3:04 pm:

    Hi Maryanne – I love this post, it gave me a good giggle. We have some interesting comments from my Dad too as his dementia has progressed (you will have to ask Lisa about his request for her to remove her pants at Christmas dinner!) He has apparently turned into quite the Romeo in his care facility with hugs and kisses for everyone! I take this behaviour with mixed blessings – on one hand it is a bit depressing because while he has always been a loving, generous soul, he would never have behaved this way when he was “in his right mind”. On the other hand, he is happy and the hugs and kisses are an outward expression of that, so I feel blessed.
    Hugs to you and your dad,
    Nora.

  2. Maryanne on January 21st, 2016 at 2:33 pm:

    Hi Nora,

    Oh wow, I will ask Lisa about your Dad’s request at Christmas dinner! I understand what you mean about the change in behaviour being a mixed blessing. It seems to be a pretty fine balance between accepting the new reality of a person’s behaviour – and even learning to laugh – and mourning the loss of the person’s personality & behaviour you knew and loved.

    Thanks so much for your comment and big hugs back to you & your Dad 🙂
    Maryanne

  3. Elaine Mansfield on December 19th, 2016 at 1:24 pm:

    Whatever it takes. I laughed, too. Dementia is so hard, but there are those moments. I still have a few laughs with my mother-in-law who will be 101 in January. She still knows me, knows my dog and her grandsons (although she mixes them up with her dead son), and knows she wants a glass of Burgundy on the rocks every afternoon. It’s nice if there can be small pleasures. Thanks for sharing the jokes.

  4. Maryanne on December 20th, 2016 at 3:10 pm:

    Hi Elaine! 101…wow!! That is amazing! And the fact that your mother-in-law still knows she wants a Burgundy on the rocks every afternoon is delightful 🙂

    Yes, we DO have to laugh at all the cute & funny things that are said. Dementia is really tough to accept, so laughing when we can seems to really help!

    You take care, thanks so much for sharing and have a wonderful Christmas!!
    Maryanne

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