Archive for September, 2010

Pasties and Burlesque

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve updated this blog but a recent e-mail reminded me that there are people who read it and believe it or not enjoyed hearing our daily exploits with Mimi.  So here’s an update.

Last October Mimi moved in with her step-daughter in Chicago because Tony and I can no longer care for her.  Working 12 hours, 5 days a week for me, and 6 days a week for Tony, left us little time to give Mimi the attention she so badly needed and rather than put her in a nursing home her step-daughter decided to take over.  Despite the distance, we’re still bombarded with daily stories of Mimi’s misadventures and as always laugh through our tears.

Mimi’s first trip home took place at the end of January for her birthday.  It was her first night home and Tony and I were sitting in the living room catching up with Maryann, Mimi, and David, Mimi’s son.  We were discussing the mundane, everyday things when Maryann told Mimi to relay a story she had told earlier in the week about a show she had attended back in the 50’s.

She smiled and slowly started into the story, giggling every now and again.  “Well now, honey, this was a long time ago.  Way back when Frank and I were first married he wanted to go to a burlesque show.  And we met up with this other couple we went out a lot with and decided to see what it was all about.”

Just the idea that my sweet, southern grandma even knew what the word burlesque meant nearly sent me into a tailspin.  My eyes widened and I grabbed Tony’s hand, bracing for what was to come next.

Apparently, they attended this show in Cincinnati, Ohio back in the late 40’s or early 50’s.  Mimi sat in her pink lift-chair motioning this way and that showing us how the dancer made her pasties spin every which way.  “And do you know she had one spinning around this way,” she motioned to the right.  “And I’ll be darned if the one on the other boobie didn’t start spinning this a-way,” she said bursting into a cackle and motioning to the left.

Then she did it.  She zeroed in on me.  “Now Tara, if you could just learn to do that you could make a whole bunch of money with your big ole boobies.”  Yep, she’d said it.  My grandmother who used to chastise me for wearing  v-neck t-shirts she claimed, “showed the whole kit and caboodle” was now telling me I could make one heck of a living spinning tasseled pasties on my boobs.

I nearly peed myself laughing.  No one knew what to say but laugh.  Maryann, my step-aunt, told us later, “Yep, she just came out with that one one night when we were getting ready for bed.  I was just as shocked as you are.”

And so it seems that maybe, just maybe, we don’t know our loved ones quite as well as we think we do.  You sure could’ve knocked me over with a feather after hearing that story pop out of Mimi’s mouth.  And so it happens that over these past few months I’ve learned more and more about the grandmother I once thought to be so demure and proper.  I look forward to sharing these and all the other discoveries I will undoubtedly make as we continue this rocky journey through what I can only call elderly dementia.  For those that may be caring for loved ones in a similar situation I urge you to find the humor in even the saddest situations because eventually the memories are all we’ll have left.  Even though I’m no longer directly caring for Mimi I do still talk to her everyday and thank the powers that be that she’s still with us even if it’s a slightly altered version of her former self.  🙂


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