My mom has Alzheimer’s and she lives with me. She is pretty self-sufficient as in she’s able to make herself a peanut butter and honey sandwich or pour a bowl of Raisin Bran overflowing with milk and sugar. Yes, she adds extra sugar. I can always tell when she makes a peanut butter and honey sandwich. The cabinets are covered in a fine sticky coat — the top of the cabinet, the doors, the sink. I don’t know how she does it. Its as if she were icing a cake only its honey on the counter. The honey drips from her sandwich as she walks leaveing a trail through the house. My dogs, ever on the hunt for food scraps, follow the trail ready to zone in for the kill. It’s like on Seinfeld when the dogs followed Elaine down the street because she had food scraps in her coat pocket. My dogs know that my mom is an easy mark. The drops of honey on the floor quickly harden to small black dots full of dust and dog hair weaving a drunken trail to her room. I grab the mop and follow.
Mom likes to help around the house so a routine has developed. She unloads the dishwasher. I have to be quick though to reload and run it. Even if there are a few dirty dishes, I run a load. She unloads the dirty dishes back into the cabinets. More than once I’ve had to pull dishes and silver ware and wash them. Sometimes, I’m just not sure if they got washed or not. Shrug. One day I walked in and caught her unloading and drying the dishes as she went. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a matte blotch of yellow stain on the floor like someone had rolled an uneven patch of paint without rerolling to blend it all in. Someone had tried to clean it up. There were still crusty yellow swaths running along the grout. I was puzzled for a few minutes. What got spilled? After mom finished with the dishes, she left the dish towel on the cabinet. As I hung it up to dry, I got a whiff. She used the dishtowel to sop up the pee and then went on to dry the dishes with it. She had forgotten from one moment to the next that she dried the dog pee with the towel. Cut to a scene from the classic movie National Lampoon’s Vacation.
Russ: “My sandwich is all wet.”
Ellen: “They’re all wet. Oh God! The dog wet on the picnic basket.”
Clark spits food out his mouth. Aunt Edna shrugs and keeps eating.
I grabbed the mop.