Monday, October 06, 2008

Don't you lose my BIL and Li's number

Update: My business case marks have now been posted. They're early. I got 100%. Sweet!!

Three weeks since my business case was due and five since I broke my knee. Still waiting on both counts. Oddly, it only takes six weeks for a broken knee to substantially heal, but it takes up to eight weeks to mark a business case. Eight weeks? Yes. Eight weeks. Seems excessive, doesn't it? I would really like to know that I passed.

I really need to work on my current course. Very very behind. But every time I get a chance, my phone rings. The ringing phone wakes up the baby. And the baby needs to be cuddled, fed, and lulled back to sleep. Every single time. J was never such a light sleeper, but N really doesn't like noise. I can do many things while holding N. I can one-handed type, or play on the Internet. But I cannot focus on my readings while holding a squirming baby and trying to lull him back to sleep.

And so the ringing phone annoys me, because it prevents me from doing what I really need to do.

It wouldn't be so bad if the calls were for me. Or for anyone else in our household, for that matter. But they are wrong numbers. Every last call. All wrong numbers. All from the same person.

I can't turn the ringer off. And I can't just not answer the phone. And it's not because I have some odd form of telephone-related-OCD. It's nothing so complicated. Quite simply, I have to answer the phone because of who is on the other end of that line.

I love my mother-in-law, and it hurts me to see her memory fading like this. She cannot remember the new phone number of my brother-in-law and his wife, Li. And so she phones the number that sounds the most familiar to her, expecting to reach them. The result is that she calls me several times a day, expecting to reach BIL and Li. Every time, she is surprised to reach me. Every time, she makes a point of writing down their new phone number. But it never sticks. She remembers calling me. She remembers that I gave her BIL and Li's number. She remembers that she wrote it down. But old habits die hard, and she still instinctively calls our number instead. Up to 20 times a day.

She has told me that she was writing BIL and Li's number in her phone book. She has also told me that she is writing it really big and posting it on her fridge. But she is confused. Names are problematic for her now, and sometimes she writes BIL's or Li's name beside our number. The result is that all numbers in her phone book seem to point back to ours, and she can't differentiate. As to posting it on the fridge? We don't know what happened ... maybe little fridge elves broke in and ran off with it, but the number is apparently not on the fridge.

"It's in your phone book, Mom."

She will look, and find yet another reference to our number.

"No, Mom. That's my number again."
"Is it this one, then?"
"Still my number, Mom."
"But it says BIL! It says 'BIL & H' ... Oh!"
"Yeah, see. It's not his number, Mom."
"Well, let me write it down again."

She calls. I give her BIL and Li's number. She then hangs up and proceeds to phone me again. And I answer. Every single time. Even though I know that it is the same person, calling the same wrong number, over and over again. I answer. Because I love her, and I realize that it is not her fault. She's not doing it on purpose. She is doing her best. She just needs some help.

But so do I.

It's too often. It is just too much. Too many times calling and waking N. Too many times disrupting my studies for too long a time. Too far behind in my class, and too much to do to catch up. Too many distractions and interruptions. I need for N to sleep. I need for the phone to stop ringing. I have to turn the ringer off. There is no other option. But I have not been able to bring myself to do so thus far.

She called again today. I saw her name on the phone. I didn't even say "Hello" when I answered. I just answered, and said "Mom, their number is ..." and I began to give her the number. She cannot remember how a phone works. So she started dialing the number while I was giving it to her.

"Mom, you can't call them while you're on the phone with me."
"No. You have to hang up first, and then call them."
"Oh, okay. Well, give me the number."
"Ok. It's (provides number)."
"I don't have a pen, so I might not remember it."
"You said you were putting it on the fridge last time."
"I think I did that. Let me look."


"I put it on the fridge. But it's not there now. Let me get a pen."


"What's the number?"
"It's (provides number yet again)."
"Okay. I've got it now."
"Mom. I hope you do. Because I'm turning the ringer off the phone now. Every time you call, you wake up the baby. I can't have you do this any more."
"Okay. Bye."

This time, she actually recited the last part of the number to me while I was giving it to her. So that's progress. Maybe it's starting to sink in now. I hope so in any event. Because I just can't do this any more.

It's not her fault. But it's not my fault either. And I need to function. It has to stop. Now. Today. It has to stop.

It makes me sad. She is a nice lady, who should not have memory loss. There is something wrong in the world. These things should not happen.


jenboglass said...

I despise the phone. I have a well documented case of phone phobia. Also? Broken knee? My husband did that in high school and it took forever for it to heal. He was a young whipper-snapper too. As evidenced by my use of the word "whipper snapper" you can tell that neither he or I am very young.

rachel beto said...

If I told you it was me who repeatedly called your house and said I had the wrong number, would you still read my blog? Oh.

Trish said...

Jen - I am beginning to hate the phone. As to the knee, I'll find out more tomorrow about how it's healing, but it does seem to be taking its sweet time. Also: I use "whipper snapper" as well ... we must be in the same age range.

Rachel - I'd still read Mrs Mouthy. You're too funny to stop reading. So I would have to find some other way to hurt you severely.