“I sat across the table from her and saw spots on her clothes! I am just trying to adjust my memory of a mother who was a fastidious dresser all of her life. How can we just ‘roll’ with these kinds of things—that’s the help I need.”
Toby’s anguish brought me out of my reverie. I saw my own “fashionista mother” as we sat at dinner with food spots-that did not come out in the wash or by her care-giver rubbing them. I revisited my feelings of helplessness and loss—then.
“Toby,” I told her as I put my hand in hers, “I can help you.”
I give you all this vignette as a gift from one daughter’s heart to the hearts of others. It took some planning and courage—but any version of this will make you feel better. It’s one of those things we can sort of control and we face inevitable things I now have learned we cannot control.
Like a recipe: Visit a few cleaners near where you or your mother live. Tell them you are bringing in a large order of clothes that need to be spotted for food spots. Ask if there is a “large order” or senior discount and find out how short a turnaround you can get. ( I actually found a cleaners near my mother that gave a large senior discount.)
You tell your mother it bothers you that many of her clothes have spots on them and you think she may not be aware of this. ( My mother denied it and was sort of mad at me.)
‘Mom, I found a cleaner that gives discounts to seniors and I am taking your clothes with spots over there today.” This is what I said and my mother was not in agreement-I was very strong in my resolve and just really overpowered her to get my way.
I then took everything in her closet—coats, jackets, tops, pants out of her condo and went to the cleaners. I left her two or three outfits that I knew she liked.
I had them back two days later!
I asked the cleaners to put aside any garment with spots that would not come out and I evaluated how bad these stains were. Bad? If they were, they did not go back to the condo. Some things never came back into the closet: silk blouses, light-colored pants with stains—etc.
Yes, she knew I took them. Yes, she was perturbed at me, but I think she had just enough pride left to know that she would now have clean clothes all the time. She did not stay mad!!!
I did this about a year before my mother died, after agonizing over it for a decade!
written by Laurie