Saturday, July 10, 2010

Easy Clothes

The book, The Graduation of Jake Moon by Barbara Park, is a bittersweet account of a middle school aged boy, Jake, and his grandfather's descent into the Hell of Alzheimer's disease. Jake and his mother have lived with his grandfather, Skelly, since Jake was an infant. Skelly was even his room "mother" throughout his elementary school career. Skelly has always been there to care for Jake. Then Skelly contracts Alzheimer's disease and the tables turn. I have read this many times and I have bawled my guts out each time I read it.

When Janet and I drive to and from work I am her book on tape. I read books to her all the time. I read The Graduation of Jake Moon to her. Janet had many connections with this book because her mother suffered from Alzheimer's disease so reading this book was a catharsis for her. She bawled through just about every chapter and then I would bawl because she was bawling. It got so bad I could only read it to her on the way home because we didn't want to go into work with red, swollen eyes and our make-up dripping on our shirts. 

There is a part of the book with which I have a deep connection. Skelly has slipped into the abyss of the final stages of Alzheimer's and Jake and his mother have become Skelly's caregivers. Jake is trying to help Skelly get dressed and he discusses the progression of Skelly's clothes from well-groomed to "easy clothes". Jake explains that "easy clothes" are the ones with no buttons or zippers. Clothing someone with Alzheimer's can be a struggle so "easy clothes" (sweatpants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and slip on shoes) are the way to go. 

I too have had a progression of dress. I once wore dresses and high heals, but I couldn't drive in heals and I would have to change into sneakers every time I got in the car, so I eventually just went to wearing sneakers all the time. Sneakers don't go well with dresses so I started wearing pants. In the movie Steel Magnolias one of the characters states in her best southern drawl, "Darling, accessorizing is what separates us from the animals." I took this quote to heart. I was the Queen of Accessorizing. I am no longer able to reach my hands to my face so no more accessorizing. Just recently, I fell and broke my leg so I can no longer stand at all to get pants on, so I am at another stage of dress progression. I have had to go to stage 1 of "easy clothes". I am unable to stand to pull up pants and it is practically impossible to pull them up laying down. I am back to skirts because they are "easier". No one has designed skirts for crippled kids so they are too long. The skirts are so long I have to wear them as dresses. I use to wear tailored jackets, but those have become difficult to put on so I am wearing sweaters instead. I am thinking that skirts worn as dresses, sweaters, and opened back sneakers are not real fashion statements. There might be a picture of me on the "Glamour Don't" page in Glamour magazine.

The other day Caren and I saw the epitome of "easy clothes". We were waiting to get my hair cut and there were two women waiting, also. A mother and daughter. The daughter was dressed to the nines. She wore a skirt with a bright yellow tailored shirt with matching heals and purse. Her mother was in a wheelchair and had Alzheimer's. The daughter kept showing the mother pictures of her on her phone and would say, "See, Mom, this is a picture of you at the Japanese Gardens." And the mother would angrily reply, "I have never been to the Japanese Garden!" The mother wore very "easy clothes": dirty gray sweatpants two sizes too big, a blue Montana State sweatshirt three sizes too big and black Ugh boots, of course, too big. 

When Caren and I left the place I looked her directly in the eye and said, "Whatever you do,"

She interrupted me and said, "I know, I know, I promise your clothes will never get that easy."

"If it comes to that, you better get a big pillow," I demanded.

"What are you gonna do with a big pillow? Make a dress out of the pillowcase?" she asked.

"No, you are going to use the pillow," I said.

"I am not going to wear a pillowcase! . . . . Oh, wait I get it. Ha, funny!", she chuckled.

Paco's Perspective

I would like to say the Halloween costumes, jackets and sweater you put on me are not "easy clothes" AND I would prefer to NOT wear them. I look ridiculous!

The Flip Side

I happen to think we look jaunty in our matching argyle sweaters!

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