September 01, 2005

Confrontation in a parking lot.

A very strange incident happened to me on Tuesday. That was the day Clone was sick and I had to stay home to take care of him. We ended up going to the grocery store to pick up some items to help him… Tylenol, Gatorade (He hates Pedialyte), milk, etc. The whole trip to the store went just fine, it wasn’t until we left that I had an issue.

I was putting Clone into his car seat in the truck. My cartful of items that I just purchased was right next to me. Just as I started belting Clone in, this old guy walks up and starts to take my cart. I grabbed it and the following conversation occurred.

Me, “Excuse me, that’s my cart. I’m not finished with it yet.”

Old guy, “This is my cart, you took it!”

Me, “ No, that is my cart. I just bought those items in the store.”

Old guy, “You took my cart! This is my stuff.”

Me, “If you look in the cart you will see it is definitely not your stuff, I’m not thinking that at your age you will be needing Children’s Tylenol.”

Old Guy, (not even looking in the cart) “I didn’t buy any Children’s Tylenol!”

As I could feel my temper starting to get the best of me, I was getting ready to whip out my wallet and show him the receipt for the items. Just then a young guy comes walking up. When I say younger, I mean younger then the old guy. Then again, from the looks of the old guy, he probably played with Jesus as a child, so just about anyone was younger then him. The new guy the came over was about my age. At first, I thought this guy was going to start giving me crap for, “stealing from an old man”. Then he says to the old guy, “Grandpa, this is not your cart. This cart belongs to this gentleman.”

He then turns to me and says, “I’m so sorry. My grandfather has senior dementia and gets confused easily. I was just putting our groceries in the car when he wandered off. He’s didn’t mean any harm. He just thought this was his cart.” The old guy apologized and looked confused.

Everything made sense at that point. I told the younger guy it was no problems and told the old guy there were no hard feelings. To help ease his ego I added an, “Don’t worry about it; it’s an easy mistake to make. I’m sure it happens all the time to everyone.”

My grandmother on my father’s side had Alzheimer’s and Senior Dementia. It wasn’t difficult for me to understand the guy’s predicament. Whom I really feel bad for is the grandson. It’s only going to get worse. I saw my grandmother for the last time when I was about 14. She didn’t die until I was 22. She lived about 8 hours away where most of the rest of my Father’s family lived. We would go up there at least twice a year to visit my relatives, but I refused to go with to see grandma. It’s not that I didn’t love her, it was because of what happened the last time I saw her.

She was in the nursing home and we walked into her room. As soon as she saw me, she started yelling and screaming about how I had left her there and why would I do that to her. It didn’t take long for everyone in the room (My parents, two aunts and uncles and my younger sister) to realize she thought I was my father. She started calling me by his name, even though he was standing right next to me. She said something like, “If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t have let your brother put me in here.”

It was a horrible visage of a woman that I always remembered as being kind and caring. After we left, I made my parents promise never to make me go visit her again. That was not how I wanted to remember my grandmother. Unfortunately that is the last, but not strongest, memory that I have of her.

I just hope something like that doesn’t happen to this grandson.

Posted by Contagion in General at September 1, 2005 07:20 PM | TrackBack

A similar thing happened to my dad, except the old lady didn't have dementia. She was just a friggin thief. When Dad confronted her, she simply said "well, it didn't look like anyone wanted it. No one was there" My Dad was standing next to the cart with his back to it because he was talking to a friend.....

Posted by: caltechgirl at September 1, 2005 03:31 PM

It tough contagion. I had a very similar experience with my great aunt. She thought I was her son and did the same. Blaming me for abandoning her. I never went to see her again. Perhaps that's why I volunteer to work the Alzhiemers unit where I work now. Just a thought.

Posted by: Chemicalnova at September 1, 2005 04:05 PM

The opposite happened to my Grandfather as he was succombing to the effects of Alzheimers, he regressed into a child-like state. Didn't speak much, sucked his finger, lost his ability to take himself to the bathroom. It was quite sad to witness. My grandma took care of him herself until the last few months. What a woman!

Posted by: Oddybobo at September 1, 2005 04:41 PM

I had the experience of strangers thinking I was a long lost (sometimes dead) relative when I worked as a CNA on the dementia ward. I can tell you, I would rather have that experience than put their families through it. Sometimes though, if I just played along they would get a little peace for that moment.
Sometimes though, you have to tell them that they really are being watched, and the only safe place is their bed.

Posted by: littlejoe at September 1, 2005 10:11 PM

What happened with your grandmother and you, is what happened with my grandfather and I. Not that he screamed at me, but he thought he was back in Germany, and I was a new soldier. Things got really weird...

But I still regret not going to see him before he bought it.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at September 2, 2005 06:59 AM

I too will have to post on this. I had a Grandmother with alzheimers, and have worked with alzheimers patients since I was 15.

Poor guy....and poor son.

Posted by: ArmyWifeToddlerMom at September 2, 2005 08:09 AM

My paternal grandmother didn't have Alzheimer's, but had a continuing series of small strokes over the course of several years. It finally reached a point that I absolutely refused to visit her in the nursing home. My parents tried to tell me that I'd regret that decision.

My only real regret is that I didn't do it sooner. Every good memory I have of her is tainted by the last images of her in that home.

Posted by: Jenna at September 2, 2005 02:33 PM

Elderly mental problems are just heart-rending.

I'm glad my dad was clear-headed until the end. Gives me hope that TNT won't have to watch me fall apart.

Posted by: Harvey at September 3, 2005 10:58 AM

It is horrible watching someone you love, someone so full of joy, laughter and love become angry and unknowing. I'm watching it unfold. It scares me to death.

I can see what happened in the parking lot happening to me. All too easily.

Posted by: Tammi at September 3, 2005 07:05 PM