the brown booties

A photo from the 1920s of my mother (a pre-teen) and her two younger sisters when they came back from living in Poland for several years shows them dressed alike — right down to their scuffed high-top laced-up shoes.
My mother insists on wearing a pair of brown leather “booties,” which she guards with her life, convinced that someone is going to steal them from her. She has always told the story of how, while living in her grandmother’s thatched-roof farmhouse is Poland (along with her four siblings and their own mother), someone somehow got into the house one night and stole all of their clothes, even their shoes. Although I had never been sure that this story was true, it was verified by our 81 year old cousin who visited a few weeks ago.
My mother has become overwhelmingly paranoid that someone is going to steal her clothes, especially her shoes. Every evening she manages to hide her shoes somewhere else. Of course, when she gets up the next day, she doesn’t remember hiding them and believes someone has stolen them. She does this with her eyeglasses and her purses, too. It annoys me that I have to spend so much of my time looking for the things she believes were stolen. The fact that we always find those objects hidden somewhere in her room is irrelevant to her.
I’m annoyed a lot lately. But then I go over and read By Bea’s Bedside, where Alexandra muses about her bedridden mother for whom she is caregiver. They have such a different relationship than we have here. They obviously always have been close and communicative. Not so here. Alexandra’s attitude toward taking care of her mother is so much different from mine; Bea’s daughter never sounds annoyed.
I should be grateful that my mother is not bedridden (although when I have to spend an hour looking for her brown booties while she follows me around complaining about “those people, I often wish she were). And I don’t have to change diapers. Not yet, anyway.
My mother has never been much of a reader or a thinker or a doer (of anything but housework). She was not much of a television watcher either. So now, there is absolutely nothing that she is interested in doing except move things around in her closets and drawers.
Her attention span in front of the television is about 15 minutes, and she prefers programs from the earlier days of television — ones with no shooting and no car crashes and no expletives. So yesterday, I ordered a used set of seven VHS tapes of the Loretta Young Show from the late 50s. She always liked Loretta Young, and maybe those stories from more calm and secure times will hold her attention.
There was an item on the local news station the other day about a computer program that’s supposed to help older people revitalize their brains. The more I read about it, I realized it was much too complicated for my mom. I started searching for some pre-school DVD memory games, and they’re much more suitable for where she’s at these days.
I just wish I could find something that would interest her and get her mind off those damned brown booties.

1 thought on “the brown booties

  1. Actually, yesterday I did get so annoyed I had to leave. My mom was much harder to deal with before she became bedridden, so I would not say we were close really, or communicative. She was too intense for that. I have gotten much closer to her since we developed this new relationship of my being her caregiver. Thanks for mentioning By Bea’s Bedside! The Cape Cod Times did an article about the blog last month. You can read it at this site:

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