Rage or Take My Father... Please!: How to Survive Caring
for Aging Parents by Jacqueline Marcell
- Read an interview with the author by ElderCare
- Visit the
- Buy this
book from Amazon.com...
- Return to the ElderCare
Liar Liar, Pants on Fire
Dad had not tried to drive since his foot "slipped" off
the brake taking us on Mr. Toads Wild Ride in the carport. Once I was gone, however,
he started telling Ariana that he wanted to drive again. I told her to keep the car keys
with her at all times and to just evade his pleas with distractions. One day she saw him
going out the back door with his jacket on. "Where ya going, Jake?" she called
"Ohhh, Im gonna take a little ride. Please give me my keys and please move your
"Its too dangerous for you to drive because you dont see that well
anymore. Id be happy to take you wherever youd like to go."
"Im the boss here and I say move your goddamn car!"
"Well, Im sorry. I know it must be hard on you but I cant let you hurt
yourself or some innocent person now can I?"
"Goddamn it! I was driving Model Ts before your grandmother was
born. You work for me and you do what I say, or else!" he yelled inches from her
face, pounding his fists on the kitchen table again. (Its really amazing that
its not concave by now.) Ariana didnt flinchshed learned my
mothers technique already.
Later that dayAriana came back from the store, threw her purse in her room and got
Mom up to go to the pottie. Dad sprinted out of bed, doing the ten yard shuffle racing
into her room. Arianas little Gary yelled, "Mommy, Mommy, he took the keys out
of your purse!"
"Jaaake," she said to her other child, "give me the keys. Its too
dangerous for you to drive. Where would you like to go? Come on, lets go out for a
nice ride. Id be happy to take you if you give me the keys."
His wrinkled up nose started to grow. "I dont have em." She tried
every which way to persuade him into giving her the keys on his own. No luck all day.
Nope, he just didnt have them. I tried to talk some sense into him.
"Daaad, Im sorry you cant drive anymore. I know how much you love driving
but we cant risk an accident. What if you hurt someone? Wouldnt you feel just
awful? Please give Ariana the car keys."
"I dont know where they areI swear to God."
"If you wont give her the keys on your own, youre forcing me to have to
get them away from you forcefully. You dont want to go through that do
you?" He went into a rambling rage calling me every nasty name he could think of and
then hung up on me. Yeah, yeah, I knowIm a bitch, Im a sleazy whore
again. Gee, no new terms of endearment?
Mom got so upset with his screaming rampage she passed out at the table, head-first, right
into her mashed potatoes. Ariana rushed to the phone, but Dad physically blocked her
attempt to reach it with his outstretched arms and wouldnt let her call 911.
"You let her go," he commanded. "Thats what she
She must have just fainted because she came to quickly and Ariana asked her if she wanted
to go to the hospital. "No! I just want to go to my bed and go to sleep, and I hope I dont wake
up to this living hellhole." My poor Mom.
When I checked my answering machine that evening my father had left me several nasty
messages saying that if I took his car keys away hed, "Put a curse on me, so
help me God!" Perfect, a new theme song for the week:
"I put a spell on you." Um, gee, could you possibly remove the existing curse,
prior to putting on the new curse, Mr. Hocus Pocus Voodoo Maniac?
I told Ariana to wait until he went to sleep and then she could find the keys. She was up
all night trying to find them and then called me exasperated when nothing turned up.
"Did you check in his shoes?"
"Jackie, I swear to you, I have looked absolutely everywhere and they are
not here," she said in total exhaustion.
"Theyre on his body then, Im sure of it. Did you check inside little
Napoleons jacket? He kept his hand in there for a reason."
"Yes, I patted him down and they werent in his pockets. I cant imagine what
he did with them." Hmmm, tricky little dictator. The next morning clever Boris
Badenov tried to get her to go to the store for some milk for his cereal. "Not until
you give me your keys, Jake. Im not moving my car out of the way."
"I told you, I swear I dont know where they are. I
wouldnt lie to you. Maybe you lost them." ("Yeah,
thats the ticket!")
Ariana called with a brilliant plan. "Once I finally get the keys away from him,
Ill get a copy made, and then Ill go buy The Club, and put that on
his steering wheel. That way he can keep his darn keys and he still wont be able to
"Wow, Im ashamed I didnt think of that myself, Ms. Einstein-ela.
Youre a genius. Maybe try secretly asking Mom where he hid them."
Ariana got Mom up and took her in the back bathroom and tried to get her to rat on Dad,
and for the first time ever Mom was mean to Ariana. "Hes a good driver and
thats our car and you cant have it, and you cant
have my dining-room set either!"
Ariana called again, "Jackie, I found the baby monitor covered with a blanket so I
couldnt hear them last night. It appears hes brain-washed her all night
because now, she sounds just like him! You wont believe the words coming out of your
mother. Here, you try to talk to her."
"Hi, Mom. You know, Dads eyes arent good enough to drive anymore. You
dont want him to accidentally hurt someone do you?"
"No, of course not, honey, but Dads never had an accident and thats our car
and hes a good driver and I can drive too. And thats my Mustang
out there and I can still drive her if I want. And thats my dining-room
set and nobodys gettin it!" Alllll-righty-then.
Ariana took Mom to the kitchen table and waited for Dad to get up. All of a sudden she
heard, "clink, clink, clink" as he walked to the table.
"Jaaake, whats that clinking noise I hear?"
"I dont hear nothin." Uh, General Stockdale, turn up your hearing
aid. Dad refused to wear his hearing aid, so, he really didnt hear
"Jaaaake, lift up your pant leg, on the double!" He finally complied, and
there, masking-taped to his calf, were the car keys. "Okay, so you
lied to me, huh? Youve had the keys all along. Im very disappointed in you,
Jake. Are you going to hand them over?"
"NO, theyre mine!"
"Okay, then Im not going to speak to you today." She made breakfast and
fed Mom her last few bites and didnt acknowledge him. Eventually he couldnt
stand it. "Youre a traitor. Youre supposed to be on my team.
You called Jackie and tattled on me."
"Jake, there are no teams or sides here. Were all working together to keep you
and Mariel together in your own home as long as possible. Youve lied to me for days
about the keysyou had them all along."
"I dont give a goddamn about the keys. Youre a traitor!" he yelled
across the kitchen table as he pounded his fists.
"And youre a liar," she told him.
"Traitor, traitor, traitor!" he started chanting and pounding.
"LIAR!" Nah-nah-nah-nah-nahhhh. Poor Ariana realized that she was starting to
lose it. She retreated into the "cone of silence" and ignored him for hours.
Finally he gave up. "OK! Will this make you happy?" he said as
he untaped the keys from his leg, which by then was losing all circulation.
"Yes, very happy indeed. Thank you very much. You will not be getting dessert tonight
for lying to me." (Major exhaling required here.) Then... he started harping that
he had to have his eyes tested again. We learned that if she just ignored
these demands, usually by the next day he would forget all about them. This time he
wouldnt let up and made her absolutely miserable for days on end. Back to the
optometrist, Dr. Cei. I had her call ahead and explain the situation. Even if his eyes
were somehow better, he shouldnt be driving with such slow reflexes. Next door to
Dr. Ceis was the hair dresser who colored Moms hair, so she made appointments
for the same time. Dad insisted that Ariana stay with Mom during her hair treatment while
he went next door to Dr. Ceis. In a half hour he came back to the beauty salon
wearing a big smile. "Guess what? I have great newsmy eyes are much better and
I can drive!"
"Reeeally? Thats great," Ariana told him as she smelled a skunk.
"Stay here with Mom and Ill go get a written report from Dr. Cei." Ariana
said Dad sounded just like an elderly Mr. Bill getting smashed. "No, no, no,
Dr. Cei protested, "I never said that. His eyes are terrible.
He barely has any vision left out of one eye and the other one isnt much better. I
told him his eyes were quite bad and he should not drive at all."
Ariana walked back to the beauty shop to find Sorry Cyclops with his head down like a
bratty school boy waiting for his detention. "What am I going to do with you?"
she scolded one-eyed Jake.
"Well... it was worth a try," he sighed heavily in the agony of defeat.
"Im a very good driver," said Rainman. A few days later he called me
practically crying, "Dr. Cei doesnt know anything. I know I can
still drive. Why are you doing this to me?"
"Oh, Dad, tell you whatAriana will take you to the DMV and you can take the eye
test. If you pass it you can drive home, no questions asked, okay?" (And be sure to
drive past the grassy knoll.) I had Ariana talk to the supervisor at the DMV and if by
some fluke Mr. Magoo passed the eye test, theyd make him take the written test too.
She had it all lined up and they were dressed and ready to walk out the door when suddenly
he had a change of heart.
"Awhhh, you just take us wherever we want to go, Ariana. I dont really feel
like driving anymore."
Okay, all together now: lets inhale and hold it... and breathe out. And another deep
inhale in... and hold it... and out. And again... hold it... thats
right, continue hyperventilating until you just dont give ayou know what!
book from Amazon.com
Return to the ElderCare Bookstore