A Mess

Ring! Ring!

“Hi Mom! How are you?”

“Well, not so good. It’s all such a mess,” she says.

“What is?”

“I don’t know … I can’t explain it.”

She recommends I talk to Phyllis, her roommate.

“She’s having a little diarrhea,” Phyllis says. “She’s walking around in her underpants.”


“Maybe you want to call downstairs and have them give her something,” Phyllis says. Downstairs is the nurse’s station.

“Good idea.”

I tell my mom I’m going to call downstairs for medicine.

“There’s medicine for this?” she asks.

“Sure, Mom. I’ll call you right back.”

No one answers at the nurse’s station. Hmmm… comforting. I leave a message.

“I left a message at the nurse’s station, Mom. Maybe they’ll come up and give you some medicine.”

“Oh, okay. I’m just sitting here in my underpants.”

“Why don’t you put your slacks on?”

“Oh, I will,” she says. “I’ll run and put my pants on if they come.”

“Why not just do it now?”

“Well, okay. Now don’t hang up! I’ll be right back.”

Five, six, seven minutes pass. I think she’s forgotten I’m on the phone. But then I hear her return.

“Hello?” she says, as if she’s just picked up a ringing phone.

“Hi, Mom. Did you put your pants on?”

“Yes,” she says.

“Good. Now if someone comes, you’ll be ready.”

“Is someone coming?”

“They might. I left them a message, and maybe they’ll come to give you some medicine.”

“Oh, okay. Ya know, I think it’s better,” she says.


“If they come, do you want me to call you?” she asks.

“No, Mom, that’s okay.” She doesn’t know how to call me. She stopped making phone calls a long time ago.

“But I think it might be better if I call you. I might know more then. After they come.”

She’s really struggling with this, I’m thinking. With Alzheimer’s, even diarrhea becomes a difficult concept.

“Um, okay, Mom. You can call me.”

“It’s just …”

“It’s just what, Mom?”

“It’s just that … it’s all about shit,” she says, lightheartedly. “This whole thing is all about shit.”

“You never used to say that word, Mom. You used to spell it out. ‘S-H-I-T,’ you’d say.”

“Oh well,” she says. “This is much easier. ‘Shit.’ See, it comes out much more quickly.”

At times, Alzheimer’s can be so simplifying.

About daughter3

My mom has Alzheimer's disease. She's 91 and lives in a nursing home. She has three daughters. I'm her youngest.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Mess

  1. Barbara Glickstein says:

    You always capture these moments beautifully. Even when it’s about shit.

  2. Nancy Shamban says:

    So to the point

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