Quirky, honest storytelling. J Smiles files solo recounting a series of unrelated true events that remind us it will all be okay in the end, one way or another. Each memory spotlights how simple slips into complex and how common is not always ordinary.
J Smiles gives the listener a moment to pause and chuckle at some of the unbelievably-random-silly things that a caregiver faces. The theme is decidedly light and easygoing. Here, J also indirectly admits when Zetty, even with Alzheimer's, has out witted her.
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We were headed to the sunny Bahamas, a one week glorious vacation. The flight was nonstop from Atlanta to Nassau. Zetty's Alzheimer's was mild, leaning into moderate. So we land, she gets off the plane. She's waving to everybody. Hi, how are you? Thank you. Have a nice day, that's Zetty. I'm trying to get all of our bags and motion to a skycap to help us. We get to customs, the agent says, Well, how are you all doing today? My mom decides to answer, y'all Zetty talks for us. Well, hi, we're doing just fine. How are you Sir? I'm looking like, uh oh, how is this going to go? I'm trying to motion to the gentleman to say hey, like, you know, don't listen to her like ixnay on the listen a? What can you do Pig Latin in the Bahamas, when you are American and you don't really know how to do it right? Is that discriminatory, anyway I don't know that he keeps going. He says What is your name? She says, Yvette Smiley Smith. And what is your occupation? She says, I'm a CPA. He says, Well, I have a few questions about accounting, I've been trying to do my taxes.My mama says well go ahead and maybe I can answer them. Ya'll, I'm trying to look this man and get his attention to say sir, what you don't want to do is take advice from this lady with the Alzheimer's about your taxes over here in the Bahamas, what stop, stop, stop. Cuz listen, by healthy brained mama would have said "well, sir, I am a CPA, but I haven't practiced accounting for years. I'm a forensic accountant. I do expert witness litigation. And I never did accounting in the Bahamas, but you have a great day. And I'm sure there's someone right here in the Bahamas that can help you out" and then we will went on about our business. But this new Zetty, gonna get that man arrested, okay orhave him in federal Bahamas beach prison. Parenting Up- caregiving adventures with comedian J Smiles. It's 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'sawareness on anyone and anything with a heartbeat. Spolier alert- I started comedy because this stuff is so heavy, get ready for the jokes. Caregiver newbies, OGs, village members trying to just prop up a caregiver. You are in the right place.Zetty:
This is Zetty. I hope you enjoy my daughter's podcast. Is that Okay?J Smiles:
Today's episode, no way that happened, zany Zetty stories. Zetty made a living convincing people that her perspective was correct. She was a forensic accountant, so she told lawyers, judges, juries, mediators, advocates- "Hey, listen to me. What I got to say is more righter than those other people across the table or on the other side of the courtroom." Keep that in mind as I tell these stories and all of the stories on this episode pertain to a period of time where Zetty's Alzheimers was somewhere from mild to moderate. Trust, she was fully in the grips of Alzheimer's. She absolutely needed 24 seven supervision when all of these stories went down. Story number one- Zetty gets her purse, starts walking out of her room. The caregiver says "Where are you going?" Zetty tells her I have an appointment to meet Judge Jackson. The caregiver says "Jay didn't tell me anything about an appointment to meet Judge Jackson." Zetty retorts, I am JG's Mama. She doesn't tell me where to go. I have an appointment to meet judge Jackson. So either you're going to take me or I'm going to drive myself. Now at this point Zetty has her purse and a top on and pajama pants. So the caregiver attempts to redirect Zetty. Well, let's go and get dressed if you're going to meet with Judge Jackson you need to have on a proper suit. The caregiver is hoping that in an effort to take her the closet, get dressed in the suit, maybe Zetty will forget. Zetty goes, they get dressed, Zetty gets on a suit and says "Okay, I'm ready. We got to go meet judge Jackson. I have the address. I know exactly where to go. Come on." The caregiver starts to get anxious. She says Okay, wait, well, you got to find your shoes. At this time Zetty just has on her house slippers. Zetty says Oh yes, that's a good point. They get the shoes. The caregiver is waiting at any moment for Zetty to forget about this appointment. She is walking to the steps, nope doesn't forget, the caregiver says well, wait, we got to comb your hair. Zetty says "(sigh) Like well hurry up because we could not be late." So they comb the hair, Zetty says Oops, need my lipstick. Zetty gets the poppin lip. Zetty believes in a red lip, gets the poppin red lip, gets in the mirror, puts on the lipstick now she's ready. About two hours have passed in the primping. They go, they get in the car. They're driving around, Zetty is saying "Keep going. Okay turn right here. Okay, go straight. Okay, turn right here. Okay, go straight." Zetty is directing her on where to go to get to this appointment with judge Jackson. She has a purse. She has her attache case. They never find the office. So in a panic the caregiver calls me- "Jay, I'm so sorry. Your mother can't remember how to get to Judge Jackson's office. We are late for her appointment and she is so upset. Please, can you tell me how to get there? Or can you call Judge Jackson and let him know that we're late." And I'm like- "Ah, excuse me. Judghe Jackson appointment. My mom. Where are you?" She says, "Well, I'm trying to get your mom to her appointment with Judge Jackson." I'm like "Uh ma'am, what I can tell you is directions back to my house. And how you better hurry up and get back there before you get fired because my mama don't have no appointment with no Judge Jackson and with no attache case. She's retired and you have been hoodwinked. Ma'am. bamboozled Plymouth Rock has landed on you. What are you talking about? I told you when I hired you, there are no appointments unless they come through Jay. If J Smiles. JG doesn't tell you about the appointment it doesn't exist." Yo, my mama was so nice with it. Her language her diction was so smooth and so good. She took the lady, they've been out driving around the city an hour looking for this judges' office. Now this lady, her job is to be my mama's Alzheimer's caregiver. Zetty done talked that lady, talked that lady her to an appointment with a judge to go work on a case, not to go to the podiatrist. You know I'm saying like I could get it if Zetty said, "Hey, I got a doctor's appointment. Or hey, I have to go and turn in my social security card." Okay, no she done convinced this lady that she has to go talk to a judge about a case that my mama says she's working on (laughter). I was looking at that caregiver like well, who got the Alzheimer's? Whew There was a time I hired a caregiver who needed a second chance you know how you come across those people in life whereyou're like, hey you made a few questionable turns and decisions in life but who hadn't, right? Your spirit is good. You got good energy. My mom likes you. Alright, cool, let's give it a shot. And she had the proper training. She came from a very reputable agency. Alright, cool. And she was willing to do the night shift, which is also a very big deal, right? Yeah, we have a garage attached to the house. And the trash cans sit in the garage, the door that lets you go into the house, some people leave that door unlockedt hinking that The garagebay where they drive their car through is enough protection. Not me, J Smiles is like ehhhh. I believe in redundancy you can't have too many locked doors, I get that from Jocko and Glo, my maternal grandmama and my daddy. This baby gets going to take the garbage out into the garage, locks the door behind herself. She has locked herself out of the house, locked my mama in the house. My mama is locked in house by herself. I'm out of the town. Right? I can't make these stories up. I have a hired caregiver that works for an agency and she has locked herself out the house, mama in the house. When people ask me how many caregivers have you had, I tell you what I done had more caregivers than I had boyfriends. Okay. Okay. Like magic, luckily, it's a big requirement for me that all caregivers keep their cell phone on their person. So she had her cell phone on her. And she was able to call a J Smiles team member to come and let her in house, but what get out of here. Anyway, so as I found out about that she was what, let go. One time I walked into my mother's room. This was after I had done a show. When I come back off a J Smiles set, it's a high, it's a huge high. I have to kind of manage my inside emotions with my outside reality. You know what I'm saying? So it's, it's a it's a really trippy situation. I walk into this room so it's, you know, late. I don't know 1, 2, 3 in the morning, something like that. Y'all, my mother is in her room, the caregiver is sitting on the couch in Zetty's room. I walk in the caregiver just waves, hey, Jay. How was the show? I was like it went good. How you doing? How's everything going? She's like, it's good. Zetty's back there relaxing. My mom's bed is right behind her couch. Zetty says, "Hey, JG how you doing?" I go to my mom to give her a hug, I move the sheet back. The only thing over my mom is the top sheet. I moved the sheet back. My mother is in her full birthday suit when I tell you ful birthday suit. I mean, not a stitch of clothing, do you hear me? Nothing. Not a bra. Not panties. Not, not a bed pad under her. Not adult control briefs It gets better. But okay, by better I mean worse. There are nothing. small, it's only funny because she's okay. There are small plastic bags and by plastic bags, I mean small, I mean the little trash bags. You know, like the little four ounce bags that you put in the small trash bags in your bathroom at the little four ounce Jimmy's. There's one four ounce trash bag around each foot. Yeah. I mean, it looks like my mom is trying to do some real hokey version of slipping slide like something that I would have done when I was a kid. I would have like, maybe put trash bags on and then put rubber bands around my ankles, and then tried to do a slip and slide across the kitchen floor. If I put water and soap suds all across the floor, like my mom was about to try to do that except she has Alzheimer's and she's in her 70s and that, that really wouldn't be cool. So I take the bags off and I'm like what's going on? Then my mama's Yo, there's like Vaseline all over her feet. My mom's feet are shining, like pork chop grease. I asked the caregiver "What's going on?" And she said, "Well, I wanted to give your mom a pedicure and when I started the lotioning process, and I wanted to do some kind of at home remedy version of like a paraffin treatment. She wouldn't let me finish, so I just left her alone." Really, again, y'all, this person came from a highly reputable agency. And I said "So what? So what's up with her being naked?" And she said, "Well, I was going to put her clothes on her after I finished with this at home parrafin pedicure thing." So then when she wouldn't let you finish the pedicure you just decided to not do , do the rest you just don't put no clothes on my mom. So y'all you know my immediate thought is so if there's a fire or burglary my mama got a run down the street naked with trash bags and Vaseline on her feet. You got me eff'd up right now, I'm paying you for this. Yo, I can get Ray Charles in here for this. Anyway, so ah, I escorted her to her car, that was her last five minutes, I think. Yeah. We are a Coca Cola crew. Me and Zetty, we do Coca Cola. We don't fool with them other sodas, paps, colas, whatever you want to call it, we do coke. We are offended, offended with a offended if you come at us with something else, they got bubbles in it and it's not alcohol. Okay, just put that out there. So it's been tricky managing my mother's carbonated beverage intake. Sugar is seriously horrible for Alzheimer's and dementia sufferers. I can get away with not giving her Coca Cola except for commercials. In Episode 14, I talked extensively about the impact that commercials have on my mom, sometimes positive, but more often than not quite negative. Y'all Zetty was having a crazy Coca Cola fix. I mean, it was out of control. I don't even remember how long it had been since she had a coke, but she kept requested it. She was asking me, she was asking my business manager, all of my friends, all of the caregivers. And they were teaming up on me they were like seriously Jay, J Smiles come on she could have at least one coke, please. Of course I would like her to have a coke. But I'm thinking we're getting close. We're getting close to breaking this sugar addiction. If she's getting this bad when she's begging everybody for one if we could just get a few more days or make it a week then maybe we can crack the habit. I was using a Joe trick that my granddaddy grand Granny, as I called him used my mom's dad MD on me all the time, which is you never say no you just always move the ball. So I say things like "oh, ma I'm so sorry Zetty. We don't have any Coca Cola right now. I will get some tomorrow. Or the store ran out of Coca Cola. I don't know what's going on. I'm mad too. I wish I could have some or the doctor said we can't have Coca Cola right now. Or the priest said we have to give up Coca Cola for Lent." My mama will do almost anything that I say that the priest suggested. One day she had enough of all of my moving the ball tactics. She said "I want one of those, a Coca Cola commercial came on the TV and she pointed I want one of those." Our response was "Ah man don't have no money. Okay, tomorrow we can get one tomorrow. We'll go to the bank get some money, get one." Zetty didn't say anything. She got up. She disappeared. Y'all, she comes back hands me a big face hundred, a big face hundred. Now, I think I've mentioned this before, but in the southern part of the United States big face hundred countries saying for new money. Big meaning the large new $100 bill hundred instead of saying 100 you say hundred? I don't know how she got $100 bill. And I don't know how she knew that a $100 bill was actually money. That that was currency that she could give to get to get a Coca Cola. And how where did she Okay, boom. Anyway, okay, so she got the Coca Cola, Zetty got the Coca Cola that night. Yeah, yep, she won. She handed me that big face hundred. She said "here, go to the store and get me a Coca Cola." And she smiled. She wasn't even mad about it, bless her heart. She was like, oh, because it was like something clicked in her mind-Oh, I didn't know we needed some money. I ain't knowyou needed some money. It was almost like you should have said that long time ago. I wear eyeglasses. I have worn eyeglasses since the fourth grade, my vision has gone up and down as to how much I need them. What's crazy to is I really can't wear contacts, my allergies and sinuses have me constantly sneeze. Well actually, I don't sneeze. My allergies and sinuses have me constantly touching my nose, eyes, making some very ungodly type noises that I won't do right now on the mic, so contacts don't really work. So I decided some time ago, I'll make eyeglasses a part of my fashion statement. There'll be my eyewear, so more than more than earrings or a neck piece I wear that'd be my thing. But I do have favorites. Even though I have a lot of eyewear, I have favorites, y'all. My favorite glasses were missing for more than a week and pretty much always blamed things that are missing on other people. It's a thing my team my friends they know. I never ever except that I misplaced it or I might have lost it. What are you talking about, get out of here. I'm Marion's granddaughter, so it's somebody else's fault. Are you kidding me? Typically, I blame it on these invisible minions that I think come in my room, come in my office, go in my car, go in my closet, and just move stuff around and hide it from me just to make me crazy, right? My favorite eyeglasses have been missing for more than a week. But because I have multiple pair. I'm able to continue my life but I'm frustrated and pissed off. Why 12 days later, I come home from a long trip, I walk into my mom's closet- Im like, Ma, Zetty. Hey it's JG, Im back. How you doing? I love you." She flips around. Hey, JG I love you. She got on my glasses. Why is she wearing my glasses? I'm like Zetty you got my glasses. She said " No, these are mine. These are my glasses JG. I've been had these I've these I've been I've been wearing these glasses. Y'all, she stole my glasses. Then I look down she has on my cuff, she has on one of my favorite mesh gold cuffs. My style is the one and only no IG Jeremy, the real no IG Jeremy is one of my standard pieces when I'm ready to go, you know, kill him with my Wonder Woman bangle and when I'm trying to know really close a deal. I'm like, now I'm looking down and I say Zetty that's my and she said no, this is mine. Now what's hilarious, y'al I'm looking down this baby's hand forearm, wrists everything is starting to turn a light purple. My mom's a little heavier than I am. I don't even know how she got her wrist into my cuff. But in a minute, we're going to have surgery to get my stuff off of her that's my boo though. Anyway I had to wait till she went to sleep to get my glasses and my cuff. My entire life Zetty and I had this inside joke around using the word thing. T h i n g, if either one of us said, I can't find my thing, or where's that thing? Or oh, my thing hurts. Our reference would be okay, wait. First of all, we only did this amongst ourselves in private, just the two of us. We were only referencing pretty much our private area our girly parts. Like if my mom said it then I would. The response would be oh you really in trouble if you can't find your thing. Get it? Buhdump bump. Or what were you doing last night if your thing is hurting? And we started even when I was a teenager, like maybe 13, 14, 15 years old. And that was as nasty as the jokes got. Like for my mother a strong curse word was oh, cream cheese or darn it. Like if you got a real curse word out of my mom, she probably was in fear and was in physical pain. Because even if she was very angry, my mother didn't curse. She'd use big words and talked very slowly. I wanted to give you that little bit of background for this next story. I was assisting Zetty in getting dressed,her panties and pants were half the way up. She stood up and started walking before everything was completely up and covering all of her private area, and I said "Hold on, Mom, you're still exposed. You can't just have your thing out. You gotta at least charge them $20, if you don't let them see your thing." Yo, she stopped, turned and looked at me and said "$20 if they see my thing, we gone live in Beverly Hills." I say "high five baby, my bad. Look at me maybe that's the problem, Mama. I've been selling myself too cheap." Yep, well, we not in Beverly Hills yet. But just keep listening. Who knows? The snuggle up, Number one- weird, zany, hilarious. I can't believe that happened. Stuff occurs every day in the life of a caregiver. If nobody got hurt, after you take a deep breath, and get over being pissed off, laugh about it, and talk to your caregivers supporters about it. You might not be able to tell everybody, that the person that you're paying, locked they self out the house. Everybody can't handle that. You know who can handle it, tell them about it. Laugh about it over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Let the steam out. Enjoy yourself. Number two -if you want to join the community, and be interviewed on the podcast, let me know. Or if you want to anonymously, give me your story, and I can weave it into the podcast, let me know that too. Look into the show notes or how to get in touch with me. You know you can join the community through the getvokal on Monday evenings and or by joining the podcast email link. Can't wait to connect. 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