My main character Irene Weatherspoon was here she would bonk me on the head with a newspaper if I stopped in the middle of this story. It’s a sweet story about two devoted friends aging together. Plus a few unexplained deaths.
My dear Skeeterville seniors have a dilemma. Irene’s cousin, Miss Daisy is the oldest resident in The Friendly Arms Apartments and she is getting dementia. She lives with Mildred who is also in her eighties, mentally sharp, physically having problems. Change is hard to face, and Mildred is in denial about Daisy’s worsening issues. Daisy’s daughter wants her to go to assisted living.
Sunnydale Medical Care Center has assisted living, nursing care and a rehab center under one roof. But Irene learns that there is UNEXPLAINED DEATH at Sunnydale! The seniors have friends there, and eventually, most of the folks living at the Friendly Arms will have to go to Sunnydale. Certainly, Irene can’t let Miss Daisy go to assisted living until this is resolved. Which means Irene will investigate the situation.
The seniors ban together again to help Irene. Her boyfriend, Wally pitches in, as do their friends John and Gracie and a few others. First they hide Miss Daisy from her daughter. That won’t work forever and the situation gets worse. When the third person dies at Sunnydale, Irene goes undercover to solve the crime. Deputy Tom Radon isn’t sure what to believe. And, poor Mildred has to realize that change is inevitable.
Some of the situations in Hiding Miss Daisy come from my experiences with my mother as her dementia progressed. Mom was a gentle soul and never had the anger issues that many with dementia have suffered. In her moments of clarity we talked about her fears and laughed about the forgetful moments and the interesting way the mind works to resolve problems when you can’t remember everything. She was often embarrassed by her own actions. My sisters and I reassured her that it was our turn to care for her. Part of that care was moving her to assisted living where she was monitored and helped 24/7. My mom was happy being with other people her age even though it wasn’t like her home. Much of Miss Daisy’s gentle personality is based on Mom.
Staying at the assisted living residence and then staying at the nursing home during Mom’s last month was eye opening. Most of the aides really do care about their residents. But, there is never enough staff to answer all of the beeps immediately. Some of the sweetest moments I saw were at assisted living when there was nothing going on. One aide would go pray or sing hymns with old church members. Another would sit on the couch and rock one of the residents against her shoulder while humming lullabies. Yes, there were a couple who just did their job, but most of the staff loved their residents and were patient even when they were childlike or angry.
And NOW, back to the frustrating middle of this story where Irene is dressed in Daisy’s purple PJ’s and could get caught pulling her shenanigans. How will I get her out of this one? Stay tuned.