Saturday, August 2, 2008

Alzheimer's vs. Deafness: The Cross Dresser Conversation

“Freddy has my shoes on!” my mother says. She is sitting at the table watching my husband.

My husband smiles and says, “These are my shoes.” He has just purchased a pair of black Crocs.

“No, I think they’re mine.” My mother argues.

I start to laugh. My husband hunts down my mother’s black Croc look-alikes and holds them up. “Here are your shoes,” he says as he stands behind her easy chair.

“See, you did have my shoes!” my mother insists.

My husband smiles, steps out from behind her chair, holding her shoes in his hands and wearing his Crocs. “These are your shoes.” he says and he moves her shoes as if they are performing an air dance. “These are my shoes.” He steps forward. He sets her shoes where she can see them, and then sits down next to me.

I laugh, turn to my husband and say, “You little cross dresser!”

My mother says in dead earnest, “If he wants to wear my bra, he can.”

I laugh until tears start to roll down my cheeks. My father, who is deaf in one ear and has impaired hearing in the other, has missed the whole exchange. He looks at me and asks my husband, “Is she okay?”

My husband grins at me and says, “I think she’s a little tired.” It has been a long day.

My father nods his head towards my mother and says, “I’m tired too, after trying to figure her out all day.”

“That’s my job!” my mother kids.

I continue to laugh, wiping the tears.

“We knew someone who dressed up as a woman for Halloween,” my mother says to my husband.

She turns to my father. “Who was it that dressed up as a woman for Halloween?” she asks. “Was it Billy?”

My father looks at her, confused. Clearly, he does not hear the question. He looks at my husband, who takes the role of translator.

“She says that you knew someone that went out dressed up as a woman for Halloween. She wants to know if it was Billy,” my husband asks loudly.

My father continues to look confused.

“Did Billy dress up like a woman for Halloween?” my mother yells.

My father looks at my husband and says, “I’m missing something here.”

My husband says in a louder voice, “She says that you knew someone that went out dressed up as a woman for Halloween. She wants to know if it was Billy.”

“I don’t know who Billy went out with. I think it was the woman he married.” My father answers.

I rock back and forth as I laugh at the erroneous exchange.

“No.” my husband teases my father, “Did Billy dress as a woman for Halloween or was it you?”

“I don’t know.” my father answers. “There are a lot of weird people in this town. I wouldn’t go out dressed as a woman.”

“I think men that dress up as women are funny,” My mother says.

My mother has Alzheimer’s. My father has a brain tumor and is nearly deaf. Their communications (or lack of) create a type of humor that makes being their caretaker an enjoyable experience.

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