Billy Scissorhands

30 07 2008

Sensing an approaching thunderstorm, our dear Berner started barking at 3 a.m. (read: foreshadowing!). At that point, so many things on my mind left me little hope of catching more shut eye. But since it never hurts to try, I curled up on the couch and fell back to sleep deeply enough to start dreaming…I needed that REM sleep earlier – thank you very much- when my alarm started shouting at me. I had a two hour drive ahead of me, a time change and an audiologist appointment to make by 8:30 a.m. their time.

I’d been on the highway about an hour and a half, when I got a call from my brother who having just spoken with my mom on the phone, asked if I knew anything about her cryptic shortness with him. “Nah, she’s probably just stressing about getting to the appointment on time”, I responded. It’s quite normal for her to leave a full half hour early for the seven minute trip to arrive anywhere in town then be annoyed because she has to sit and wait for doctors.

Unsure about whether or not she was going on ahead and I’d just meet her at the office or I’d find her pacing in the breezeway wondering where I was, I decided to stop at the house on my way into town. I found my Dad alone at the kitchen table finishing his breakfast.

“Is Mom here?”, I asked. “NO – thank GOD!!” was his reply. You need to understand that I have never in 53 years heard my Dad answer that way. It was official: I was in for a doozy.

When I got to the audiologist’s office, my Mom was already in her appointment so with a deliciously juicy copy of People magazine in hand, I tried to overhear what was being said for later comparison to what she’d “thought” they said. A debit card swipe, two appointments on the books and as the glass door closed behind me, I asked her what had happened with Dad. She very graphically told me that he had come to the breakfast table with his T-shirt SLASHED.

“Oh…, I’ve seen him tugging at the neck of his T-shirt lately and he feels like it’s choking him so maybe it ripped,” I suggested.

“No – he took scissors and slashed it like this..,”(running her fingers in 6” slashes down her chest to illustrate).

Red flares were shooting off in my head…new dangers were lurking around the corner. He uses scissors all day long on the worst of days. He sits in his chair and either shreds newsprint in three inch strips with his hands or cuts things out that seem to have no relevance whatsoever. So now I imagine that his sheets, bedspread, the livingroom curtains, the couch (though that would be a stroke of genius) will be shredded by… Billy Scissorhands.

When we finally get back to the house and I have a chance to carefully look at the collar of said T-shirt I see that about 1/4″ is snipped. SNIPPED – not slashed – and it was just the collar band. But he did have the scissors in his hand all day and it was a bad day. Words were like smeared ink on newsprint in his brain – and even worse when he tried to get them out of his mouth.

It’s painful watching his brain scramble and his eyes dart to and fro trying to make sense of what is going on around here. “Big dummy,” he spits out in frustration, referring to himself.

She, on the other hand, has to be reminded that it’s not nice to giggle at people when they can’t pronounce words correctly…or that she should try to play along when he’s trying to describe something from his past and every fifth word makes zero sense. “You have to be a good detective and give him clues now and then…” and by the time I explain this – she’ll ask me again why he can remember anything. What are the chances – we scored double dementia. I’m playing MegaMillions tomorrow.