Tag Archives: Assisted Living

Anatomy of an Aunt

I recently committed to visiting my Aunt Betty Lou every other week in her nursing home.  Wait, before you oooh and aaah over how sweet that is, I have an ulterior motive — I always come back with a great story for Crazie Town.  This visit was no exception.

When I arrived I found her in the dining room – by herself – waiting for supper.  It was 3:00 in the afternoon.  I said hello.

“OH!  I’m so glad to see you!”  She smiled and clapped her hands together.

“Me too,” I said.

“Now, remind me who you are again?”  Fortunately the smile remained on her face even after we cleared that up.

It was a beautiful day so I asked if she wanted to go for a walk.

Her eyes got wide and she said, “Are you crazy?”

Once I explained that I’d be doing the walking and that she’d be riding in her wheelchair, she decided it was a splendid idea.  I pushed her through the nearest exit, which sounded the alarm.

She said “Keep moving!”  So I did.

A few years ago, the nursing home installed a gazebo and “pond.”  (Being a farm girl, I have to put that in quotes as a pond is something four times as large, but I digress.)  We rolled out to the gazebo and I set the locks on her wheels.

We sat in silence for several minutes while I struggled to find something to talk about.

“Beautiful day, isn’t it?” I asked.

“The other day the tree trimmers came.”    (I’ve learned over the years that although we’re having one conversation she reserves the right to switch it to a new subject at any time.)

“Tree trimmers, you say?” I asked politely.

“Yes, they worked all day, cutting down limbs.”  She gazed around at the trees and smiled.  “And then the next morning when I woke up, the nurses had covered me in tree limbs.”

“Uh huh…wait, what did you say?”

“Yep.  Tree limbs.  They thought it would be funny.”

A million thoughts zoomed through my head.  “Would someone really think that would be funny?  Did it actually happen or was she confused?  If it was true, was my aunt some sort of favorite patient that they joked with?”  But she was already on to the next conversation.

“One time at work a woman came in asked for her check.”

Aunt Betty Lou worked for about 100 years at the Topeka City Clerk’s office.  I really had no idea what her job entailed so I answered, “That’s nice.”

She screwed up her face.  “We don’t give people checks at the City Clerk’s office!”

“Oh.  Well, I guess she was in the wrong place then.”

“I told her I didn’t have any check for her and she said I did.  I told her I didn’t and she said if I didn’t give her the check she was going to cut out my gizzard.  Right away my supervisor called the mayor’s office, who sent down his guard.  And then guess what happened?”

“I don’t know, what?”

“Well, all I can say is – she doesn’t have her check, and…”Aunt Betty Lou leaned back in her wheelchair and patted her stomach.  “…and I still have my gizzard.”

Now, I’m no doctor so when I got home I looked up to see where a person’s gizzard is exactly.  Turns out, only birds have gizzards.  Then again, maybe Aunt Betty Lou is part bird and she really did wake up in the tree limbs.


I don’t want to threaten you or anything, but if you don’t give me a subscribe or share, or a “LIKE” I might have to cut out your gizzard.

Oh yeah, thanks for visiting Crazie Town!

I Can’t Believe She Threw Me Under The Bus

Running Away to Aunt Lorena’s House

I took a drive to Crazie Town last week to visit my Aunt Betty Lou in her nursing home.

Every few months her facility schedules a family care meeting.  It’s an opportunity for them to explain how their $7,000 a month fee is being used to make my aunt’s life better.  The meeting is good, because if you ask her, they use the money to find new and interesting ways to irritate her.

I walked into her room to find her sitting in her wheelchair, arms crossed across her chest and a major pout on her face.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I told them I didn’t want to use the walker, so they deserved it,” she said.

“Uh, oh.  Deserved what?”

“That woman came in to help me to the bathroom and the whole time I was telling her I didn’t want to use the walker, but she said (and here my aunt scrunches up her face and talks like a baby) ‘Your family says you’re supposed to use the walker.’  So, I didn’t really have a choice, did I?”

Now my face was scrunched up.  “And what choice was that?”

“I threw my walker across the room.”

I chuckled.  I mean really, what’s funnier than a tiny old woman throwing a temper tantrum?

“Come on,” I said.  “We better get to the meeting.”  I let Aunt Betty Lou stay in her wheelchair (I’m no dummy) and rolled her into the conference room, which was filled with staff from the facility.  Immediately she assumed the arms-crossed, defensive position.

When we all settled in, the head nurse smiled at my aunt and asked, “How are you?”

Betty Lou snorted and then replied, “How am I supposed to know what day it is?”

“No.  I said, How ARE you?”

My aunt paused, looked at the ceiling and then lowered her gaze.  “I don’t know how old I am, but I was born in 1926!”

Aunt Betty Lou sat quietly through the rest of the meeting while they talked over her, telling me that “Miss Betty” liked movies but hated bingo, she loved having dessert with dinner then often came back later for a second helping and that she’d gotten into a bit of a kerfuffle with another resident when the woman had tried to cut in line for a manicure.

Flipping through pages and pages of documentation, the nurse noticed there was an item left blank on her form.  She leaned across the table and shouted, “Betty, do you brush your own teeth?”

Aunt Betty Lou paused and looked around the room in terror.  “Well…I, well…”  And then her gaze landed on me and her eyes lit up.  She reached out, pointed a crooked finger my way and said, “Teresa ran away from home.”

A room full of accusing eyes turned my way (well, except for Aunt Betty Lou’s.  Her eyes were filled with satisfaction.)  I couldn’t believe she’d throw me under the bus like that.

I was six-years-old and really mad at my mom, so I packed up my little suitcase – yes, family, I’m going to tell the truth  (for some reason, they love this part of the story) – I packed my suitcase with every pair of underwear I owned.  That was it.  No clothes.  Just underwear.

“I’m going to Aunt Lorena’s house,” I said.  “Because she loves me.” I stomped off, up the driveway and out onto the dirt road in front of our house.

I’d made about 10 yards when Mom came out onto the porch.

“You know,” she said.  “It’s a long walk to Lorena’s house.  Maybe you should eat some lunch before you go.”

I stopped walking but didn’t turn around.

“We’re having some of Betty Lou’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes,” Mom said and then I heard the squeal of the screen door as it opened and the sharp bang as it slammed shut.  Within two minutes I was back inside, sitting at the table on my chair stacked with telephone books, shoveling mashed potatoes into my mouth.

As I sat in the nursing home looking around at those accusing faces I thought for one second about throwing Aunt Betty Lou under the bus by bringing up the walker-tossing event.  But I realized that, much like a 6-year-old, an 86-year-old just needs to throw an old-fashioned temper tantrum once in a while.


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