Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Okaasan vs Oyomesan - FIGHT Club!

Had a big fight with Okaasan at lunchtime.
Not sure who has won.
We're not actually talking to eachother yet. Whether that is through choice or habit I don't know.

War broke out at lunchtime when I asked Okaasan something and she didn't answer. Just continued eating.
Yujiro asked her if she was ok, because it looked like she was eating in a daze and we weren't sure she'd heard.

"I don't want to talk to the person who has been going into room and taking things from my table" she said.
Or words to that effect.
My blood was on boiling point so my Japanese listening skills went to the hills.

She said she was missing a magazine and that I had been into her room and taken it and didn't think she
had noticed. But she had.
I said I did go into her room to get the old newspapers and clean, but I didn't touch stuff on her table and didn't take the magazine. etc etc etc...that families should talk things out and not go around giving eachother the silent treatment etc etc

Then I walked out. I got the old newspaper box - which luckily the recycle man hadn't taken - put it down in her living room and told her to help herself. And walked out again. I left Okaasan and Yujiro to finish lunch. I went upstairs and did my business accounts.

The truth is of course: I DO sort through stuff on her table. I try to take out the packages of rotting food, the old newspapers, some of the millions of receipts for stuff bought 3 months ago, old chopsticks, bits of tissue, advertising sheets for 2 weeks ago....

I do it when she isn't there - because to do it with her would be impossible. I do it because Yujiro is doing almost all the cooking and I'm trying to do something helpful in the Okaasan-care.
I vacumn her room.
I find her pants around the bathroom, washing machine, kitchen and living room. I hang them up to dry.
I close windows that she has forgotten. I take in laundry.
I wash up half eaten plates of food.
I pick her hairs out of the sink plug.
I worry about her room heating and sneak in to switch on the hot carpet.

But I can't get into all of that.

Anyway. Yujiro did tell me ages ago to be careful about moving stuff on her table in case she noticed. So he was right. I was probably a bit too enthusiastic and put one of her magazines in the recycle box.

We went out for the afternoon - to see the Michael Jackson rehearsal movie This Is It (great movie by the way, not too much nasty, cloying Michael and lots and lots of dance and song as a big concert crew put the show together. Like Chorus Line with a EDGE.)

I asked Yujiro what we should do about Okaasan. And he said the typical Japanese thing: do nothing. Go on as normal and assume she has forgotten about it.
I was all for either
 a) me eating dinner upstairs for a few nights and staying out of her way in the hope that she'll forget exactly why she has a bad feeling about that foreign woman,
b) sitting down for a Family Meeting and telling her - Yes I go into your room. I go there to clean. Because You don't clean. I don't take your things. You should look for the magazine in the recycle box. Maybe it was in there. Maybe I put it there by mistake. And by the way - I'm not a thief.

But instead we did the Japanese thing of Doing Nothing.
We bought sushi for Okaasan on our way home in case she didn't like the lasange I was planning to cook.
When we got home she was sitting at the kitchen table and fell on the sushi with gusto.
I stood there cooking lasange, mainly with my back to her.
Yujiro watched the baseball.
He and Okaasan chatted about things.
She ate. I cooked. He talked.
When she'd finished she went and sat in her room in front of an amazingly cleared table (if nothing else this has made her clear some of the trash out herself) and watched the TV.
We sat behind her in the kitchen and stuffed ourselves on lasange.

Oh...and Hokkaido's baseball team the Nippon Ham Fighters are winning 5-1 at the moment!

Okaasan vs Oyomesan? Who knows? Who cares actually. A few days when I don't have to think of chatty little bits of conversation or this old lady is fine by me.
This Is It.


  1. Do you think this is her dementia talking here? This paranoia and suspicion might come from that, I know its often a symptom.
    It must be so hard, when everything seems to be going along so normally and then she says something mean and vicious like that.
    I hope the situation has calmed down more, maybe some days of peace and quiet will settle everything down again.

  2. Oh yes, it IS the dementia for sure...but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.
    A healthy person with control of their thoughts would say: "By the way Amanda, when you threw out the old newspapers the other day - I think you may hve thrown out one of my mgazines. Has the recycle box gone?"
    But for Okaasn it is: "where is my magazine? I can't find it under all this shit in my room. So I am sure that Amanda has been in here and looked through all my stuff nd taken the magazine."

    I've never had a warm, fuzzy relationhip with Okaasan, but I was trying to create something here to make the day to day life pleasant enough.
    Sadly, her confusions about her own life need an outlet and I'm the nearest person around who has No Warm Associatiated Memories attached - so I get the shit.

    I don't care actually. I don't NEED to have her in my life. But I need to share a kitchen table with her and make the right noises at We Are Happy Family Times.

    And as the dementia gets worse in the coming years I need her to trust me enough to let me do stuff for her.

    All gone to pot at the moment. But I am the one who has to stick it all back togther.