Wednesday, August 9, 2017


August 3, 1995
     Kathie asked me if I could pet-sit when she and Frank went to Montreal, but I didn't see how I could do this and keep up with my Boston University courses and appointments for tutoring English as a second language. Inspiration struck when I thought of Janeth.  That dear girl not only took care of the pets with great good nature but also cleaned the house, the stove, the refrigerator, the pool and pool area.  Ray came out every other day to help her and to enjoy the outdoor scenery when they finished their labors.  They learned that the trash would be picked up at the end of the driveway on Thursdays, but had a difference of opinion on what constituted the driveway's end.  Ray thought they should carry the bags out to Country Lane, but Jan was sure they should leave it at the end of Kathie's driveway.  Since the trash includes garbage, by Friday morning the uncollected bags were the main attraction for neighborhood flies.
     Listen to what happened to that dear, conscientious sister of mine.  First, she turned down my offer to relieve her on Friday afternoon, saying, "I still have things I want to do here." One of the things she did was stuff the trash bags into her car and drive to 1000 Southern Artery, waiting until dark because she wanted to sneak the reeking, leaking bags into her building and dispose of them down the North Building chute.  By the time she had finished this Herculean skullduggery, she was ready to go back to Westwood—but what was this?  A flat tire!  She called Triple A, explained carefully that she was in the main building with the lights all around the exterior, and waited for rescue.  Forty-five minutes went by.  Another resident said, "Maybe you should call them again."  Jan said, "The minute I do that, the truck will arrive, and I won't be here to show them where my car is."  So her neighbor went inside and made the call for her, again emphasizing the location of the flat tire. 
     Forty minutes later (it was now about 11:00 p.m.) Jan caught sight of the Triple A truck going by and heading for the South and East buildings.  She raced after the driver and managed to catch him before he took off again.  They went back to her car, he looked at the spare and said, "This is flat, too."
      Jan told me that the last time she'd had a flat, she was informed that the spare needed replacing.  Ray pooh-poohed the notion, saying, "They're trying to get more money out of you."
     The repair man said, "Just go to bed and get another tire in the morning."  But Jan couldn't go to bed, not with Shoshy and the cats needing to be fed and let out early on Saturday.  She could have called me, and I'd have gone out to Westwood, but she didn't think of that.  She called good-buddy Ray at 11:30.  He dropped her off at 99 Country Lane and helped her resolve The Flat Tire Problem the next day.
     Ray thought it would be nice to wait and greet Kathie and Frank when they got home, but Jan said no, they're going to be exhausted, and Kathie shouldn't have to worry about putting on her hostessy manners.  They had words about this, Ray saying, "Do you mean, after all we've done for them," etc. etc. 
     Jan was so right.  I remember how Mom would have liked to greet us in Fort Lauderdale and see our reaction to all her decorative touches. Trying not to hurt her feelings, I explained we would be tired and looking forward to unwinding by ourselves.
     Jan left a note at my door on Sunday:  "Ray sent me two thank-you cards, hoping Kathie and Frank enjoyed their week as much as he did.  Apparently I hadn't hurt his feelings at the last minute as I feared, squabbling with him about my wish to be out before they returned, fatigued, to settle in.  Also, I had sent him home nights and invited him back alternate days only, but he had been thrilled that I even `included him.'  We had a great time.  And thank you!  Love, Janeth
     Kathie said the house and yard were immaculate.  Jan told me not to tell her about the Trash Saga, but she had described it with such good humor, I begged for permission to quote her.  Kathie and Frank are taking me to the Music Circus tomorrow night, so I'll relate the story over dinner.

From: Kathie Malley-Morrison
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2013 
To: 'ted malley'; 'Tim Malley'
Subject: aunt janeth.
Just to let you know that our Aunt Janeth passed away today. Quite suddenly.
From: Barbara Malley
Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
To: Margo Bendery
Subject: My sister

From: ted malley
Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Subject: Janeth

Hi Mom....
Sorry to hear about Janeth. I'm glad you were able to be close the last few years.

February 16, 2013

      I just found this picture of my sister with a friend whose name, Linda says, is Jill.  She doesn’t recall her last name.  Anyway, here are these two lovely women.       
Essay by Janeth's daughter Linda
      Janeth, Barbara's sister, is my mother.  Dad passed away in November of 1974 when I was just 20, and I am now 58.  Somewhere along the line, mom experienced what I call early onset Alzheimer's, or Dementia, and was fairly good at compensating.  We didn't realize how grave her condition was until a few years ago; she went to assisted living from her apartment.  
     January 7, 2011 is the date Janeth came to live with me in Maine, moving her away from all that was familiar in Massachusetts.  For the first 18 months my older daughter, Stephanie, undertook the role of caregiver in order that I could continue to work. It was a good arrangement with Stephanie being unemployed at the time.  When she informed me she wanted to return to a "normal" job it became evident the only comfortable option for everyone involved was for me to leave my job as a mental health case manager and take over caregiving around the clock.  
     We settled into a cozy routine, visited with friends, dined out, had visitors, etc.  Mom was enjoying life in a home setting and seemed to be in good health despite the obvious.  Most of her days were good, with very few delusional forays.  Usually mom's infrequent bouts of delusion were the result of a dream and easily resolved with humor.  Mom's laugh could be infectious; such a lovely sound.
     One day last summer mom was clearly anxious from the minute she woke.  Thinking she had to pick up her husband (my dad) from work distracted her for much of the morning and she didn't eat her cereal and needed many more prompts to take her pills and drink her usual portions of juice and water.  Mom became increasingly anxious, repeating that she needed to get dad home from work later that day.  In my attempt to prevent her from reliving any grief over his passing, I made comments to the effect of dad had made other arrangements, that he was all set, she needn't worry about his getting back home.  Mom wasn't buying any of it.  She started asking me why I was so indifferent to my father's plight, to which I would reply again that he'd made other arrangements and distract her with a list of the day's tasks.  
     It being a Wednesday, mom had her weekly appointment at the local hairdresser for a wash and set. Normally I drop her off, run some errands, and show up an hour later to learn she fell asleep under the hair dryer.  This day when I returned, Lisa quizzically stated that mom had remained awake, looking all around her while under the dryer.  As soon as she was situated in the van she irritably vocalized "You have been mean to me all day. Don't you care about  your father?  I NEED TO PICK HIM UP AND YOU ARE IGNORING ME!!!"  
     I mentally questioned the wisdom of evading the truth but resolved to avoid once again telling her dad had died long ago.  "Mom, I am hearing you say the you need to pick up dad, but he's made other plans now and you don't need to get him yourself."  Then came a litany of accusations about how cruel, mean, indifferent, uncaring a daughter I was to let my dad just hang around the office when he could be home with us, and why was I keeping her from the car to drive him home?  Using all the patience I could muster, "He knows we go to the concert at the Gazebo on Wednesday nights and found another ride home.  Remember, we're having a picnic at the Gazebo and listening to local bands?"  
     You'd have to know my mother to understand "disbelieving look."  But that woman had a look that could scare a ghost when she didn't believe a person and was disgusted beyond words.  I was beginning to wonder why her delusion was carrying into the late afternoon but let that thought go.         Mom, my daughter Tiffany and I proceeded to the Gazebo for the 7 PM concert.  Mom did not eat, did not enjoy the music. Her sighs were louder than the band that night. When the band broke there was another accusing litany accompanied by "disbelieving look" when I made my now feeble attempts to placate.  I'm wondering if I'll be able to hold out.  I'm wondering if I'll lose my patience.
     Okay.  I've had eleven hours of this and I'm done.  "Mom, do you really want to know what the situation is?"  "I'VE BEEN WAITING ALL DAY, YES OF COURSE I WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON!"  "Well mom, your Alzheimer's is playing a dirty trick on you.  Can I leave it at that?"  "NO THAT DOESN'T TELL ME ANYTHING...WHERE IS YOUR FATHER?"  "Mom, dad is where he's going to be. . .for eternity."
     Silence.  Sobbing.  Timidly at first, "You mean to tell me he's DEAD!?"  Wailing, sobbing.  "Oh it's just like he died today.  Where was I when this happened?"  
     We spent quite a while talking about things and Mom accepted the situation at last. I learned my lesson and didn't shield her from the truth again, but there were few incidences after that one.  Mom passed away unexpectedly at age 88 on February 4, 2013.  Goodnight Mom, Dad, and Wally.  I miss you all,
Love, Linda


  1. Isha, I only just today learned that your lovely sister Janeth passed away, I'm so very sorry. I have a bit of trouble writing on computers these days so watch your mail, I will write you long hand.
    All My Love

    1. Mouse, thank you for your note of sympathy. To slip away so peacefully seems a fate greatly to be desired, although Janeth's loved ones were taken by surprise. I will watch for your letter, dear friend.