J Smiles opens Season 2 with a riveting story of personal panic. J wakes up but cannot find Zetty anywhere.
On vacation and without her local support system, J scrambles to create a strategy to trace Zetty's steps. But where to start? What time did Zetty leave? How did she get out? Did anyone see her?
Learn the remarkable ways ALZ Zetty outsmarted healthy adults. Hotel security is forced to involve the local Police. In the end, J is even more convinced that mainstream society is clueless as to what Alzheimer's looks like.
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Sunshine in my eyes. I wake up padding the bed looking for Zetty. No Zetty, I get out of the bed. Go to the bathroom. No Zetty, I walk into the living room. No Zetty, we're in a suite in a hotel in Miami, celebrating LeBron James being in the finals with the Miami Heat against the San Antonio Spurs Zetty loves LeBron James. I check the door. The boat lock is off. The chain is off. I unlock the door. I go around the hall. I am screaming for Zetty I am running. I am instantly perspiring as if I've been doused by a tsunami. Parenting Up,caregiving adventures with comedian J Smiles. It'ss the intense journey of unexpectedly being fully responsible for the well being of my mama. For almost a decade, I've been chipping away at the unknown, advocating for her, and pushing Alzheimer's awareness on anyone and anything with a heartbeat. Spoiler Alert- I started comedy because this stuff is so heavy, be ready for the jokes. Caregiver newbies, OGs, village members trying to just prop up a caregiver, you are in the right place.Zetty:
Hi this is Zetty. I hope you enjoy my daughter's podcast. Is that okay?J Smiles:
Hey, Parenting Up family. I'm back. Welcome to season two. My holiday hiatus is over. That is by far the toughest period of the year for me as a caregiver. I need tons of self care. During that time. I'm refueled and ready to go. Today's episode,ah zety escaped. Y'all I can still taste the instant aluminum in my mouth. The panic was chewable. That's the best way I know how to put it. I could chew the panic in my mouth. So I'm out of state. They're no relatives there. My mom's physicians aren't there. What the hell am I supposed to do? I go to the stairwell, I'm screaming her name, only an echo of my own voice coming back to me. I get on the elevator, I ride it up and down. It's a boutique hotel. When I travel with Zetty, I try not to do the big, massive grand hotels, I try to do small boutique five star hotels so that they will give me supreme customer service. And they won't have too many guests. That's the goal to keep it tight and right. There may be nine floors to this property. The floors are in the shape of a "C" in only 10 or 12 rooms. So it doesn't take me long. And imagine with adrenaline flowing, I'm doing some Flo Jo Usain Bolt, I got all the I got all the gold medals. Just call me lightning strike. And then waiting on the elevator, it's taking too long. So I hit the steps, I'm in the stairwell getting to each floor and running. I'm asking housekeeping "Hey, have you seen a lady that kind of looks like me, but she has way more booty and way more hips." I'm describing what she has on, but she's a little bit shorter. Okay. They are no habla ingles, Okay, this is Miami and we're downtown. We're literally a quarter of a mile from the basketball arena. I'm in a panic, so the little bit of Spanish I couldn't normally squeeze out of a turnip is not working right now because I can't find my mama. So I'm like, Ah, okay, whatever and I keep running. And I finally make it down to the lobby. Now another thing is, this boutique hotel, used to be a large corporate building. The lobby is in the middle of the hotel. So maybe the lobby is on the fourth floor. So I stopped there and I'm describing to the front desk what my mom looks like I say she's missing. I say she has Alzheimers. I say what she has on. Y'all ain't ready for this, I will tell you right now, if you're driving in your car, you might want to pull over. If you drinking coffee, you might want to put it down. Okay, if you've taken a shower, turn the water off,cuz you're gonna drown yourself when I tell you this. At a five star hotel in an international city like Miami, the head manager at reception told me "Oh, yes, ma'am. She was here." I'm sorry, she was here. Yes, she was here and she left this note. Ah, yeah. Who? What do you mean she left a note? Okay. I just want to pause for a second. So anybody who's working in the hotel industry, guest services in any way. If you see a person in their pajamas, slippers and a bonnet, and they're asking you anything other than where is my hotel room; they have some form of cognitive decline. You stop right there. You sit him down, you try to figure out what the hell is going on. Y'all. The manager says, "Oh, yes. She asked me if her FedEx package was here." Y'all Zetty did not have on a bra. Now mind you , okay, I ain't gonna have my mama out there looking raggedy, So she did have awesome cute pajamas. They were more like loungewear Okay. loungewear from Soma. Shout out to Soma. They are the intimate apparel Arm of Chico's so Zetty wasn't in a Winnie the Pooh onesy but it was clearly not outside clothes. And she did not have her own a bra. And she had on hotel slippers. And excuse me, once again, did you hear me say she had on a bonnet of black bonnet with elastic not a you can go outside or inside head wrap not a head wrap, a bonnet. A sleeping cap with all her jewelry on, now her nails were freshly done She still had all her jewelry on wedding band, everything frosted, diamond encrusted neck wear and everything. The guy starts explaining to me how sorry he is that her package isn't here yet and that he is on alert. Because Zetty he told him my name is Yvette Smiley Smith. And then he showed me the note. Zetty wrote the note, my name is Yvette Smiley Smith. I'm a CPA, I am waiting for a Federal Express package with tax data, Re I'm s rry, RE yeah, RE Marian David S iley. Now that's my g andfather, who had been d ceased by that time, at least s x years. The man still had the n te, and he's trying to a ologize to me. I'm like, sir, w at part you've been duped, y u've been had, you need to g ve yourself a break And maybe g home for the day. Because a l dy with Alzheimer's just p ayed you like a fool. So where i she now, sir? He said, Well, s e described to me the c nference she was here for. I s owed her to the inner elevator t at send you to the conference r oms. What? I said Sir, if you s e her again, she's escaped. S e has dementia. She's retired. I am her daughter, there's no c nference. Is there a c nference scheduled on your b oks? He said No, ma'am, it's n t, but ma'am she. Isaid sir, d n't,please don't tell me not o e more damn time what she told y u standing here in a black b nnet and no bra and your hotel s ippers and she said she was a out to go to a conference d essed like that. Okay, but a m nute of pause, y'all. I told y all my mother as a healthy w man she was brilliant.On the s and, she was Jordan in June in t e fourth quarter, down by two w th the ball in his hands. You k ow what I mean? At the top of t e key. You wanted Zetty on the s and. That's how hard Zetty t lked that she shook this man t at much. He takes me to the e evator that he where he led Z tty, I go down. I get to the c nference area, there are no l ghts on down there. There is a c eaning crew and a security g ard. There's no conference of a y kind, not of janitors, not o jump ropers, not of jet p lots. I go down and I talk to e erybody. Hey, have you seen a l dy kind of looks like me, b ack bonnet, I go through the w ole shebang. Yeah, you just m ssed her. Where's Waldo and y all didn;t stop her either? W at the hell? Can nobody look a an adult and say, Hey, I d n't, I don't think, I don't t ink what they're saying quite m tches, the reality that I see. T ere were four people down t ere. Two of them told me. Yes, y s, I saw your mother, she's l oking for her conference. We t ld her that the morning s ssion ended and there's no m re conference until tomorrow. S e was very disappointed. D sappointed, I'm disappointed i you. What? Next time I'm just staying at Motel 8. At least they leave the light on for you, hell y'all ain'y got no light on down here and ain't no light on between your ears. What in fruda scootda coulda? Ah. I get back on the elevator, I go back to the lobby and I say have you seen her? Did she come back? No, ma'am, she must be here. Let's just, 'm gonna alert security. Yes, please alert security. I'm thinking Mr. Dumbass, have you not alerted security while I was gone? Whoa. Okay. All right. We're gonna start over. So one plus one equals you're fired and yeah. And can you alert your security team that there is a missing senior, who is suffering from Alzheimer's, running intelligent circles around everybody on your staff? Can you say that for me? I write down on a sheet what Zetty has on what her name is, a description. I give that to him. He's putting in the call to his security, you know, on the walkie talkie. I then say I'm going to tackle all the floors again, on foot running through the steps. After that, I say she's not in this building. He says, ma'am, she must be in the building because the way our elevators are situated, is too difficult to know which elevator to get on? Where do you have to get on the elevator and get off to actually get to the street? I said you don't know my mother, sir. She just convinced you that she was going to a conference in your hotel. Of course, she can figure out how to get to the street. She just gonna ask someone and they're gonna tell her because she's charismatic, she's charming, she's very convincing, and she's sweet. If the lobby is on the fourth floor, you have to go to the second floor to get the escalator that will take you down to the motor lobby, which is what leads you to the street level and out of doors. I knew in my heart, I was like my mama was not in this building, period. I feel it in my soul. Now, everything that I'm describing to you all, it has probably been all of 37 minutes, because when I tell y'all I was lightning strike through there. And I was talking very fast to everyone because my mama's missing. She has escaped. She has run away. I have lost her. I had one assignment, get my mama to the LeBron James game, period. And I have lost her in my sleep. I can't get in trouble with nobody. Because I'm the boss. But I'll tell you what. I don't mean when I'm in trouble with me because I I raise hell about Zetty, I knew it. They were like Ma'am, just calm down, please. I get down to the motor lobby, I describe Zetty to one of the valets- first guy, "Nope haven't seen her", Second guy, "Nope haven't seen her", third guy, "Yeah, yep, you just missed her. She was down here, she's going to a conference." What?? Is this a sitcom, is this SNL? What is going on? What comedy skit do I not know that's happening. What in the hell? He said "yeah, yeah, yeah, she had on like, like a little black lounge suit with polka dots." I was like sir those are pajamas, not a lounge suit. Which leads me back to if you in Miami. I guess y'all need to up your pajama game because obviously Zetty's pajamas are outdoor loungewear. (laughter) I said well, which way did she go? Now, the motor lodge and valet was on the back side of the hotel, which is proper for a boutique hotel. They don't have you entering and loading vehicles on the main strip. That would be dangerous, it's unsightly. They said, "well, ma'am, we don't know which direction she went. Because, you know, we're back here on the back of the hotel. We just pointed her to the main boulevard." I said, "Stop, that's enough." Okay, I said okay. Okay, I ran to the corner. I look left and I look right. I didn't see her. I go back upstairs to the front desk and I say my mother is officially missing. A person on your valet staff saw her gave her directions on how to leave the premises. So she's walking and believe it or not Parenting Up family, Zetty has very short legs and they thick. You blink and she is out of sight walking, do you hear me? It's the most amazing thing. We have teased about it for 30 years like her legs do not appear to be moving that quickly. But you blink and that heifer has turned accordingly. Whoa, which way did Zetty go? It's a miracle, like a sleight of hands with Zetty it's a slight legs, slight of foot. Maybe it's her pinky toe, maybe, maybe it's the way her pinky toe hit that sidewalk. I looked at him, Sir listen, I don't want to hear anymore."Ma'am we so" I don't want to hear anything about anything. My mother is missing. She is not in this building. We need to get the police involved right now. So they take me to the security manager's office. They are looking at the closed caption TV circuit stuff trying to determine which exit Zetty used to maybe figure out what direction she was walking in. I'm officially preparing a police report for my mother. And I hear them on the walkie talkie thingie talking to the Miami Police Department putting out a bolo on Zettyio. Parenting Up family, are you with me right now? It's Sunday morning, we in Miami. Yeah, I mean, the sun's coming up. I'm waking up thinking we're just going to order a couple of eggs some toast and get ready for the game. No, that is not an all the way this day about to go. Oh, let me also tell you this, to that point Zetty had never left anywhere or anything without me. Nothing, she hadn't walked away from me in the mall. a hair salon, the doctor's office, the house. Nothing ever, period. There was no indication that she would ever wonder. Not only does she want a baby girl did a slick sneak away. She made no noise. A few things that heighten my fear. She didn't have any ID on her. I did not know how long. She had been gone. Yeah. The staff at the hotel said we saw her 30 minutes ago, 15 minutes ago, 20 minutes ago. But Parenting Up family. I'm going to admit I did not trust those mother suckers, you know what I mean? If you were in a state of mind to let Zetty get by you. I don't know if you know what time it was. She had on her favorite day jewelry. Things that my dad purchased for her, shiny diamonds on the neck, on the ears, on the wrist on the fingers. Like whoa, will someone take advantage of her for the jewelry. She doesn't have a cell phone. She doesn't have a Medi alert panic button. By the way, those don't really work for dementia patients because they don't know when to push something. If you're demented, you don't know hey, I'm in trouble. Because get this Zetty was very comfortably in control and looking for her conference. She was calm. I, on the other hand, was in a full out, free fall, panic. Somewhere between 30 minutes and three years past with me sitting in the hotel security manager's office. He gets a call and he says, "uh huh, uh huh. Yes. Yes. That does fit the description. That does fit the description. Did she answer to Yvette? Yes. Yes" ,he hung up. Ma'am, we found your mother. Where? Down the street. I started leaving the room, screaming Thank You, Lord. Thank you, Lord, because the entire time they're asking me questions I'm saying prayers. I'm praying to saints. I'm mostly talking to Zetty, I ain't gonna lie, she ain't dead and she ain't a saint. Now I don't know if she will ever be a saint, I don't even know how that works. I'm Catholic and you know, I don't think Zetty can be a saint, but whatever. I'm talking to my mama, Zetty I'm looking for you. I love you, wherever you are, just don't do nothing. That's what I'm saying. And I'm praying, I'm praying to God. I'm praying to everybody I can think of that I like Muhammad, Abraham, Buddha, everybody. My daddy, my granddaddy and my grandmama, I'm like listen, y'all gotta help me with this. I'm gonna do good with this. I need to find her real close to the way she was last time I saw her, you know what I'm saying? Like, she could have like a broken fingernail or something and I don't give a shit of all the jewelry is gone. Like, literally every piece, which her body needs to be the same. He says "Ma'am, she's down the street. Hold on, we'll drive you." So we're talking as we were walking down the hallway to get on the elevator. And I say, "well, how far is it and they're like, you know, eight blocks or something, we will drive you." I said, "What's the address?? We're getting off the elevator, you know, and they're walking, but not fast enough for me. The hotel security is walking me down and they say "we will drive you or the police can drive you." The police are coming to meet you. I said "What's the address?" They gave me the address to the building Y'all I had on flip flops, which was the first thing I could find by the bed when I initially started the treasure hunt for Zetty. I got out that door to the sidewalk, I saw that police car. The policeman was getting out of the squad car saying "Ma'am, we have a few questions for you first." I kicked them flip flops off. I did a quick look around to try to understand the direction of the numbers. I'm the engineer, I went to Howard I know which way numbers go. I said "Sir which which direction" and he pointed. I started running, do you hear me? I was Chariots of Fire, Usain Bolt, I have never run that fast. I don't know how fast I was running. But I have never run that fast. I was crying so hard. I could feel the snot from my nose connecting down to the slob coming out my mouth. All with the wind coming down my chin. It was a mess. I was making a snot slurpee in my mouth. I know it's gross but need y'all to be there with me. It's still a morning. It's not even noon, Zetty took me through our days y'all. It ain't even time for breakfast to be over. I get to the building. I run up the steps. Now it's Sunday so everything downtown is closed. Downtown Miami is shut down. As soon as I run up the steps, the security guard in that building opens the door and Zetty walks out and I run to her and I embrace her and I'm doing a circle. Zetty's a little too big, you know I would have done in the romantic movies where the guy picks up the girl he spins heraround and her legs are in the air. Well, I couldn't put Zetty's legs in the air. She's, she's heavier than I am. But I was spinning her in that way, y'all guess what she said. Now I'm crying, she's not crying. She's just smiling. She's patting my back. And she says, "Don't cry. JG Mama was going to find you. I was going to find you baby. Mama is going to always find you." About to hm, I still see what I had on what she had on and that security guards face right now. Whew not gonna take a pause, I'm gonna keep going through this because I need the moment to come out doing this episode. At this point, my mother doesn't have the slippers on anymore, she's barefoot. She still has the bonnet on. She is sweating. She's sunburned, her cheeks, her nose beet red and burned. Not just hot, like burned. She has all her jewelry on. Her clothes do not look tampered with. Y'all, she has papers. Zetty has business cards and papers, a smoothie store, a yoga, Fitness Studio, and an eyeglass shop. Zetty has walked into these three businesses had some level of communication and got some paperwork. I was whew what, nobody didn't keep you. Nobody didn't stop to say hey, you just sit down right here. We don't call the police. Nothing, whatever, whatever. I'm just saying. This is why I do this podcast to create awareness around what Alzheimers looks like, what dementia looks like, so that when you see it, make a non emergency call to the police, to the city, to someone. I'm talking to the security guard, it's an African American lady. I detect a little bit of a Louisiana drawl. My grandmother, Zetty's mama is from Nola Nolan's. So I say where are you from? She said, Louisiana. say well, how long have you lived here? She said, Well, I'm, I'm a transplant from Katrina. I said, Wow. I said what made you call the police? She said well, she came up to the door of the building. And wait Parenting Up family, I want to tell you, this was a very large corporate high rise. There were a series of maybe 20 steps that you had to traverse from the main sidewalk to get to the door. So Zetty had to make a decision to choose this building, it wasn't easy. So the security guards said, "well, when she came up to the door, and she was knocking on it, she said and we're closed. We are close to the public completely, all weekend. I'm only here because it's the NBA Finals. And we're just here to make sure that there's no vandalism with all of the tourists." I said, "I understand. That's why we're in town." She said "but I looked at her and it just didn't seem right. She seemed like something, I'm about the cry. She seemed like somebody's Mama." She said "You know what I mean?" She said when I looked at it, she didn't have on any shoes. She had on a bonnet, but she looked well kept. She looked like somebody loved her and somebody was probably looking for her. She had on nice jewelry and her nails were done. And when she knocked on was pulling on a door I just I wasn't supposed to but I will not answer the door. And I say can I help you ma'am? And she said Yeah. And she said she just kind of fumble with her words. She asked about the bathroom or asked about a conference. And I I just told her to come in. And she didn't want to come in but I made her come in and I just locked the door when she came in. And then I called the police and she said she wasn't leaving here until the police came. I don't care what she did. I hugged that lady so hard. I said "thank you that is my mama and somebody was looking for her. And she is well kept and she is loved." And she said "because I hope if my mama I was walking the street does somebody would call for some help." I say Yes, ma'am. I asked her how long was she going to be on shift, she told me. I got Zetty, she was too soiled to ride back in the police car. I put my shoes on Zetty's feet. I was barefoot and we walk back to the hotel, hand in hand. I get her settled, we shower. We shower much like we did season one, episode one, some version of the tango waltz. Zetty and JG that's her nickname for me. Zadie and jG in the shower making it happen. She is very disoriented, she's exhausted, she's dehydrated. I order some lunch. I get her into bed, she is out, snoring, calling all the cows pigeons. I mean, it's like Noah's Ark. She's calling them two by two when we went to sleep, I was exhausted too. I was emotionally exhausted. She was physically exhausted. I handcuffed her to me with the sash of the hotel robe. I tried the best homemade Girl Scout, Boy Scout, Eagle Scout, Mary had a little lamb know and I wouldn't go nowhere. I turn the television on just to see the pregame because the NBA Finals game was that night. So I have the sound down, I'm just watching. Your girl turns over wakes up, JG there he is, there's my guy. There he is pointing at the TV when LeBron is talking. I say yeah, that's right. That's LeBron. She said, "Isn't the game tonight? We're supposed to be going to the game, aren't we?" Girl what?? You, she said I said, "Mama, you want to go to game?" Shoot yeah, shoot yeah, I want to go to game, that's my guy. She starts getting out the bed. She doesn't remember any of it. That baby has had her shower, her good breakfast lunch, a good four or five hour nap. I'm the only one with my panties in a wad and my heart still in my ankles. Zetty ready to go. I told the driver we have one stop to make before the arena. I gave that security guard that called the police when she saw my mama all the cash I had except for $20, just enough for me to be able to tip people at the airport the next day. The snuggle up- number one, hotel industry, I need you to do better. You have got to be more aware and better prepared for Alzheimer's/dementia sufferers to be guest. I'm not asking you to diagnose them, but am asking if a person dressed like Zetty comes to the reception and the valet that someone's able to say, doesn't quite look right and just her sit down and wait, somebody. Zetty got past like seven people at a five star hotel unacceptable. Number two, caregivers, if you're spending the night in a hotel with your loved one, consider purchasing a locking device that allows you to lock them inside something on the inside of the room that you have control over. That has nothing to do with the hotel's locking system. There are quite a few things that you can purchase as an additional security measure. They are small, they will get through airport security. They can fit in laptop bag or briefcase, just think about it. Number three, caregivers meet the moment. Don't let the negative linger. Zetty and I did go to the NBA game that night. Sure. I was frazzled uncertain, initially, but Zetty was energetic. She wanted to go and that is why we were in Miami. I didn't want to let the negative past control us or let fear control us. I was awake and alert. She wasn't going to run away from me at the arena. I wasn't going to lose her, so why not enjoy it? Zetty cheered and have five and chatted with people around us. it's doubtful that the people in the arena had any idea that this lady had Alzheimer's. Amazing and LeBron won. Number four, the Parenting Up weekly interactive video cast on getvokal is now at 7pm Eastern Standard Time, every Monday details in the show notes, can't wait to see you. That's it for now. Thank you for listening. Please subscribe for continuous caregiving tips, tricks, trends, and truth. Pretty Pretty please with sugar on top share and review it too. I'm a comedian, Alzheimer;'s is heavy but we ain't got to be.