Experts say that Alzheimer's does not erode music memories. Filled with excitement, J Smiles and Zetty prepare for a night out on the town for a concert. Not just any concert, two of Zetty's favorite bands of ALL-TIMES.
J gets caught up treating it like a wedding or prom. Fancy appointments, new outfits -- that's when the wheels start to fall off the bus. Snuggle UP to hear how our duo makes do.
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We were riding in the car, I was driving don't worry, Zetty the passenger. It was only the two of us flying solo, very rare. I don't even recall where we were going, but Zetty was singing along to her favorite genre of music, soul music from the 1960s and 70s; usually something from the Motown era. Then the DJ pops in and says that The Four Tops and The Temptations are going to come in concert. I get excited, Zetty you want to go to the concert?" She says Huh, concert? I don't know anything about that JG. I'm ah man this isn't going so good. Then they start playing the songs, sugar pie honey bunch. Zetty chimes in, you know that I love you. She goes (clicking noise) she does that noise and makes the okay symbol, putting the "o" part of to her eye and winks. I was like, Hey Zetty you like that song, that's your song. I know it. Do you want to go and sing that song? Shoot Yeah! And then they come in with temptations, papa was a Rolling Stone. Here goes Zetty, nah, nah, nah, wherever he laid his hat was his home. I said do you want to? Do you want to go sing that song? Shoot Yeah! Those are my guys. Then it hits me, okay I can't ask her if she wants to go to a concert. I gotta just recognize that if she's singing the songs, figure the rest out Jay. Buy the tickets, get the outfits, nails done, hair did, let's Go! Parenting Up, caregiving adventures with comedian J Smiles is the intense journey of unexpectedly being fully responsible for the well being of my momma 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 prop up a caregiver, you are in the right place.INTRO - Zetty::
Hi, this is Zetty. I hope you enjoy my daughter's podcast. Is that okay?Episode Title - J Smiles::
Today's episode- Taking Zetty on A Date, The Motown ConcertSpeakers:
Comedian- J SmilesTHE Episode::
Parenting Up family, an outing with your LO may sound simple, you are just going to a concert. A mother and a daughter enjoying classic music that they both love to sing, snap their fingers, and pat their feet, but nothing could be further from the truth. My mom now has Alzheimer's. Everything is complicated. This one night out on the town is like planning a wedding. I kid you not. It is a preduring and post affair for the ages. I started spazzing out on getting the tickets because it couldn't just be any pair of tickets. To close and it would be too loud, too far away and Zetty wouldn't be able to see them. On the aisle, now Zetty has to stand up every time somebody has to go to the bathroom or wants to go to concession stand. Bad, bad bad, because she could get confused. Who the hell are these people? JG why they keep coming through here? She won't understand that we're at a concert and they just want to go get something mama, I don't know. I can't take that chance. But no venue then you has the seat selection for the Alzheimer's impaired people. They have the little wheelchair symbol. They have sight impaired, but that's it. After that I'm scrolling through trying to guess. Okay, left, right, center. I feel like I was playing some version of Monopoly and Scrabble. I want to be in the middle of the row, but midway to the stage. Okay, I'm sorry, how many freaking rows are in the whole concert Hall? Does anybody know that? Is that on the internet? No, nobody tells you exactly how many rows are in the whole section. Okay, what's the orchestra? How many orchestras are there? Orchestra left, right, center. Orchestra one, two, three. Seriously, I just want two seats, where my mom will most likely be able to see the stage, but not have to stand up 18,000 times to let other people in and out of the row. Where that at? And I don't know if I ever told you all, but Zetty has cataracts. They're not bad enough to have surgery, but they are enough for her to need corrective vision. Right, she needs to wear glasses. But she doesn't like keeping them on further and a little monkey rich to where I need to place this sweet baby to see this concert. Nobody on any of the dot coms is feeling my pain when I'm trying to figure this out for this concert ticket. If she can't see any of the people I know, every 30 seconds she's going to be leaning over elbowing me who is that? What they say? Can you see? Did you hear? That's not going to be any fun. Ultimately, I got a dissertation in this concert hall. I cross reference about 25 websites to determine the best seat for Zetty. I purchased the seats. Then I thought okay, now we can decide outfits because my mother in her healthy brain would dress fancy for a concert. Something would be shimmery and glistening in the lights and she would have had on heels. So I got to figure out how to fake a heel and have it with some sequins on it and something that if the light hits her, it looks like she's on stage. She has to have her hair done and nails done. And now how am I going to get all of these things accomplished in a way that Zetty doesn't run out of steam or get aggravated. That's the issue at all times for a family caregiver, isn't it y'all? Even when you have great plans that are positive and loving and energetic, you can wear your LO out. I got to put two or three days in between each of these outings, the nails, the hair way spaced out. First up was the hair because we got to get the hair colored jet black. Zetty's hair really is jet black. Now she's African American descent and nobody believes our hair is jet black. The number of stylists that say oh no we got I know what you mean. It's a dark dark brown. No, it's jet black, and they put in a dark brown and then it doesn't match. And then I'm pissed off. Because what do you gotta do is you gotta wait for that to grow out. And they're like, Oh, you're right. I haven't seen that before. I don't give a bleep blop what you've seen before, she's my mama. You do what I said, I'm paying you and then if I'm wrong, fine, I'm still gonna pay you. How about that? Anyway, we got through that. Got our hair done. Got a few layers cut in. This is fancy. We're going to see The Temptations and The Four Tops. Now as a point of reference for my mother, these were the years when she was coming of age. She was in college, Dr. King, civil rights movement, she was making her way as a young adult in business becoming a CPA. So these are the songs where she feels most empowered. It's my goal to make her feel gorgeous and ready for the streets! Y'all the stylist starts to put the dye in Zetty's hair and for whatever reason, Zetty wants to rub along her edges and her ear. And so now, her nails and her nail bed are jet black with dye on it. My mother has an olive complexion. She looks more Italian than she looks African American by skin tone. It's not a pretty sight. I'm thinking Hey Zetty, can you stop touching your face? What do you mean JG I am nottouching my face? Girl, we about to see The Temptations and The Four Tops in a minute ish kind of in a couple of days out and we got these fancy tickets. Why are you only touching the places on your body where there is dye. Why don't you touch your knees or your elbows or even touch boobs. I don't care why you got to touch up there with this black stuff moma. The stylus had some solution to get it off. I was still in a panic, because Zetty got a little anxious with the removal process because we had to get real intimate with her hands. And some of it might have been a little bit of painful because we had to rub kind of a lot. Because I'm thinking, honey, baby this is not the time for us to have polka dot dalmatian fingertips. We don't know we might get called on stage. You know what I'm saying, to do to Temptation shuffle. Girl, this is not the time, not the time. Then we had the nail salon. They were fantastic. They have been good to me for many years. They were very careful with my mom. Zetty did not want to put her feet in the water. She was okay with the manicure. Whatever you want to do to her fingers have at it, but put her feet in the water. She's kept saying no, no, no, no, no. Now, technically, I could have said Who cares nobody's gonna see her toes. But family this is the issue, I wanted the cute shoes. I will admit I was breaking all of the rules that I knew better. I knew better! Like who cares what her shoes look like. I'm telling you I was caught up in my pre JG feelings. Knowing my mama would want to be sugar sharp and for those of you who are not from the United States are not familiar with African American Vernacular, sugar shop is your best clothes. You have put on your best makeup, your best hat, your best shoes, and you could not have a better physical presentation. And I know that's what my mama in our healthy state would want to do and so I got caught up in trying to do it. Now I know in my caregiver brain that that was too far. But I'm being honest with you, all right. I had a bit of a slip. I fell off my caregiver horse and a little bit into regular JG brain of me and Mama about to hit the streets and we gon kill them. We might come out with a father and son want to take us to dinner you know what I mean? So I'm trying to coax Zetty's footsies, feet into the water. I basically have to forego my pedicure at this time to get her feet into the water so that we can have this pedicure. I'm confident that they gotta do this pedicure to calm her pinky toe down, in order to get the shoes on comfortably that I want her to wear. Again Zetty doesn't have a dog in any of this fight. She didn't even know nothing about the concert. JG has decided that this will be a good outing. I'm admitting this. However, I do know that my mother has consistently responded very well to music. And I got so passionate about the idea of her hearing this music live and the energy of the crowd, and other people, likely mostly her age, singing and dancing. And that's what got me so excited. I admit I did get derailed by her needing to look fancy, but anywho I promised you all to be transparent and tell you my truth. Zetty was not extraordinarily pleased with the amount of work that needed to happen on the callus that was on her right pinky toe, but we made it through. Won't he do it? Won't he will. That is another reference in African American Vernacular, referencing to Christianity and Jesus if you call on Him and pray, won't he show up? Yes, he will. All of this is happening days before the stupid concert. I still have to manage J Smiles, things that are happening with my world class sports collection at the Smithsonian, Zetty's daily activities, the caregivers, their schedules, the house, but I'm obsessed with this concert, and making sure that we get there and that Zetty looks and feels like the belle of the ball, it's prom! It hits me OMG, Oh my goodness I can't drive us because if I drive us we're going to have to park blocks and blocks away. And if Zetty has to walk to get into the concert hall, the whole show will be trash. By the time I get that baby into the show, she's going to want to go home. She's going to sit down in the lobby, on a bench, and look at me like a deer with the headlights. I think oh no, no, it's a bad idea. I gotta get a driver. Oh my goodness. This thing that was supposed to be just we gone go to The Temptationand Four Tops concert. First of all, this is going deep in my pocket and it is getting some kind of complicated, but righteously the alternative is Zetty not lasting for the entirety of the concert. Or we might not even make it inside the concert because who knows where the parking will be in relation to the front door. Anywho I get a driver then I go shopping. I do not take Zetty to the mall. I stopped doing that in probably year 1.5, 1.75 at the most. That notion of oh, I'm gonna take mom shopping, let her pick out what she wants. Ha, useless! That is as useless as asking a six month old, what do you want to eat? My mother was consistently overwhelmed with the selections in a store. Even if I pulled out three shirts and said hey, just pick between these three. The sheer number of options that existed in the store blew Zetty's mind. She couldn't focus on the simple three items I held before her and ignore the accessories at the counter, all the jeans folded up on the shelf, all the shirts hanging gain that I didn't touch, stimulation overload. I thought this is going to be great, I'm going to go to the store going to pick out all these items for Zetty, gonna be awesome. Y'allgo to the store, Chicos that is Zetty's place, and I felt comfortable there because Zetty shopped there prior to her Alzheimer's diagnosis, boom, let's do it! Why had Zetty lost weight? I'm mad about it. Now that's a great thing because we have made some dietary changes and she was working out more with her trainer. But heavens meavens, the little 10 or 12 pounds that she lost, but she lost it uniformly all across our whole body legs and chest and arms that I couldn't really tell. So I come home with the original size, everything is swallowing her. I'm like are you serious right now? Like the concert is tomorrow boo boo. Don't nobody have time for this. I put it on her, it is swallowing her. She just looks at me and holds her hands up like a scarecrow and the shirt is all flopping off. I can't even see the little baby's fingertips and she says uh huh JG it's not good. I'm like I know, I know it's not good. That night, we did a serious scrub down shower, router to the touter. I cleaned everything she had, scrubbed it down, baby oil, lavender lotion. I cannot shower my mom on the day of an outing, no matter how much time the outing will take. We can be just running to the drugstore, taking a flight, or going to a concert it doesn't matter, an outing takes too much energy. Showering takes too much energy, one event per day. If she's getting a massage or having a workout, that is the event. I learned all of that the hard way. So I knew, okay, if the concert is tomorrow, we are taking our shower tonight. We showered, we pin curl the hair, I mean all school pin curls. Like getting ready for picture day at school, for your family reunion or something. This was serious, I'm telling you I was getting her ready fr a wedding or something. I don't know what I was making up in my head, but it was really, really special. While Zetty was still asleep, I scurried and scootched to the mall, returned the items for a smaller size, and I so wish my mom was healthy enough to realize that she needed a smaller size. Oui, oui, would she be happy that she needed a smaller size. Prepping for the concert also meant moving up her entire routine by a couple of hours, big, big risk. Zetty's body is so programmed for when she's sleeping, when she eats, when she eliminates that we were nervous by we I mean, JG and the caregiver that was on shift during the day. Okay, we're gonna get her up early. That means that, okay, we're going to make sure she goes to bed earlier than normal, which only means make sure she's in the bed by 1am instead of 4am, right. So that we can wake her up and give her breakfast by maybe 11am instead of 1pm. Because we want to make sure she eats a healthy, hearty breakfast and a very full lunch prior to going to the concert in hopes of forcing her largest bowel movement to occur two hours earlier. Normally, Zetty's brouhaha bm happens around six or seven in the evening. Well, we needed that to happen more like three or four in the afternoon. Because six or seven in the evening, right, that's when we're going to be at the concert. Nobody wants that happening then. So we were playing some version of chemistry meets physics meets Russian roulette. Y'all should have seen me given Zetty a little bit of extra leg exercises from her chair. Trying to get her small intestines and colon to activate but not use too much of her energy so that she would be spent by the time we were leaving the concert. JG and the caregiver on shift, we were busted and exhausted by 5pm. However, Zetty was in great spirits and it worked. She had eliminated fully and by 6pm that she was dressed, the driver was here and I felt confident that we could now go to the concert without fear of a major from the bottom side of her booty explosion happening while we're supposed to be jamming out to Motown music. We get in the car. Everything's great, Zetty puts on her red lipstick. She still loves to do that herself. And I appreciate that she still can. She puts it on perfectly and she likes candy apple red lipstick. She doesn't want dark red. She doesn't want maroon, doesn't want brown she doesn't care what the trend is. If I put something else on she just she goes no, no, no no no JG. She had on her candy apple red lipstick. I am sucking down 32 ounces of Red Bull because I'm exhausted, but we are headed to this concert. Zetty looks gorgeous. I think I look okay, off we go. Y'all, the driver gives Zetty the red carpet treatment like we are in Hollywood. If I could have given him a million dollar tip I would have. He opened that door and grabbed her hand and led her to the door of the concert hall. I think he forgot I was there, which is fine. I mean technically he was supposed to get us both out but whatever. You know Zetty is the fan favorite and the night was all about her. She looks back at me and says come on JG, hurry up. Girl really? Are you serious right now? I'm back here What? Okay. I'm only back here trying to get your purse and the little bag of unmentionables that I had in a little sequins clutch. Okay, keeping it cute, but it's the adult undergarments and wipes and smell good and everything else just in case the incontinence devil catches us in a moment, and I got an extra pair of pants but I'm too slow. Okay, Mama, here I come. Zetty inhales the concert experience. She sings every song. She claps, she's on beat. She stands the entire concert. I was mesmerized by the amount of energy she had. The Temptations and The Four Tops sang all of their hits. They did a few songs in combination for other Motown greats. I tried to sit down a couple of times. Old girl, who is also known as Zetty elbows me and says, JG get up, get up! I'm thinking, first of all have fun. Okay, heffa is a term of endearment if you're from the deep south in the United States. You can't say the B word, but you can't say heffa and it's loving. I don't have own flat, sparkly shoes I have on heels because I didn't know you were gonna make me stand up this whole concert. But she looks so disappointed in me that I stood up. But good thing I had on a strappy shoe at the back heel. You ladies y'all know how we do. You can just slide the strap down below my heel and got a little pressure off of my toes because she wasn't playing. My mama was hazing me at this Motown concert. The people in front of us were turning around and high fiving Zetty. The people to the left of her, they are high fiving and they are bumping shoulders, it's great. I was so thankful to the universe, to the Holy Spirit for giving me the courage and the stamina to follow through with the concert with getting her there. And feeling like okay, this is going to be worth it JG, just just get there. And the location of the seats turned out to be spot on because we only had to stand up like maybe once to allow someone to pass by. Everything was going great. Zetty was the belle of the ball. She was queen of our row until intermission. Then people around us wanted to chit chat with Zetty, they were offering to get her something or to get me something as well from the concession stand. Hey, we're going to concession stand, do you want anything you want water? You want a beer? You want wine? You want m&ms? I took the lead and said no thank you we don't want anything. Thank you so much. Now Zetty was kind of looking at me like are you sure we don't want anything because I'm a little thirsty, that was her look. Now before y'all jump on me by why I did let the people buy Zetty something I'm under bladder and bowel control. We can't eat and drink anything while we are in this concert hall. We did all of our eating and drinking at home. We emptied our bladder and our bowels at home and that's it. We are waiting till we get back to the place where I paid the mortgage, okay, that's that. I wasn't go and bother to tell them all of that. Won't no sense and trying to remind my mama she wouldn't remember I just said oh, that's with fine, thank you so much. I can't get up and go get anything because I can't leave my mama. And then they want to chit chat with Zetty. Well, what's your name? What's your favorite Temptation song? Well, where do you live? Well, how long have you been a fan of The Four Tops? And then these answers were perplexing as hell. And all of our best friends started looking around, like they were on a reality, they just got a punked show. And I was looking at him like hahaha because I wasn't going to say in front of my mother, she has Alzheimer's, because Zetty has never accepted that she has Alzheimer's. And she was having such a great evening, I did not want to open up that can of worms. So I waited and I just said Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, my mom has liked The Temptation since they started. I tried to jump in, but bae bae when I tell you those people were confused. You're talking about going from sugar to not sugar. Zetty said I don't know, I don't know about that. Zetty's answers were some version of I don't know about that, uh-huh, that's right, well that's right now, well I know what you mean. Her answers were circular, they weren't ugly, they weren't aggressive, but they were what you call confusing. This one lady came back with popcorn, offered Zetty some and I said no ma'am no thank you. And Zetty says, "why JG that looks good?" And I said to the lady, I said, "Ma'am, my mother just got new dentures. It won't work." Now, I was lying, Zetty did not have new dentures, but I thought the lady would take that as a health prosthetic something and let it go, you know what I mean. Because she wasn't there for the earlier part of my how come we can't have none of this and we're gonna be fine. I said, oh, Lord, when are the lights gonna go down? Play some music, please. I can't afford for this intermission to last one mo second, not one more second. My momma sang and danced with all her heart to the very last song. She stood throughout for every ovation. They came back out for the encore, she went with that too. Let me tell you where she ran out of energy, we are leaving the venue, I want a picture. I wanted a picture standing in front of the sign that said Four Tops and Temptations. She said Ah uh it's time to go. I have taken three years to put this night together. I have fought through an intermission where people were trying to pump you full of soda, water, wine, and m&ms which would have had your bowels and your bladder implode and all I want is one little stanky picture, seriously ma. I say please Mama? Well okay JG well okay, but she didn't smile. So I have the picture, it's not our finest moment. I text the driver swiftly, like I blink my eyes, he's right there. Perfect service again. Red Carpet. Premium care for my mom. On the way home, he asked, "Hey, Ms. Zetty, how you doing?" She said "I'm doing great." He says "How did you enjoy the concert?" Zetty said, "What concert?" The driver, "The Four Tops and The Temptations" Zetty- "I don't know anything about that." The driver looked at me in the rearview mirror and I just smiled and I winked. And I held Zetty's hand and I said "I don't know anything about it either, honey. How you feeling babe?" She said, I'm feeling good. And I said sugar pie honey bunch and she responded, you know that I love you. And we just kept singing Motown songs until we got home. J smiles, why are you so committed to music with Zetty Well, so happy that you asked. One thing is that I noticed how happy it makes her. She smiles. She's upbeat. And she actually remembers the words. And to underscore what I've observed, every expert that I've talked to, and all the literature that I've read or seen on the internet confirms it. Mayoclinic.org says, music can help everyone that's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. That's a big statement, so why not try it. Listening and singing can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for everyone with Alzheimer's, that's huge. Musical memories are often preserved and undamaged by the disease. They're not sure why, but they all agree that this happens. This is another reason to keep fighting for music and art to stay available all over the world, to children and communities of all ages. Experts go on to say that it relieves stress, it reduces anxiety, depression, and agitation. It's actually called the mood enhancer. Some people may think daggone J, soon as Zetty got back in the car, she didn't remember the concert, was it worth it, was it worth the effort, the money the time? Truthfully, speaking, Parenting Up family, pound for pound, I'll never know. I will never know which one of the moments mattered the most, or stick to her soul or her brain the most. But I do know this, while we were in that concert, she had a rocking, rolling, roaring good time. And I believe that as a human being, the totality of good moments need to outweigh the bad ones. And that if I can deposit more happy moments to her spirit, then I'm satisfied. So what she can't articulate that she just went to a concert. But when she went to sleep that night, was her soul a bit lighter? Did she get a little more cardio? Did she release more positive endorphins in that three hour span than she would have if she had been sitting on the couch watching game shows? Yeah, I think so and that's good enough for me. I encourage you to incorporate music on a daily basis for your LO, even if they're not able to sing, if they've become less audible than Zetty is. If they are in a home ask whoever is in charge of their care to play music. When you call them potentially, if you have a tablet on the other end have the music playing while you're talking. Statistically they say it makes a difference.THE SNUGGLE UP::
"THE SNUGGLE Up"- Number 1, some of the things that I do with that are actually memories that I'm making for me. So family caregivers, it's okay to be selfish. When Zetty closes her eyes for the final time and becomes an angel, I'm going to remember that concert. All the effort I put into getting her gussied up and fancy like I know she would have appreciated and how she made me get up and dance with her. I'm going to remember that fondly. I'm not going to care that she didn't remember it by the time we got in the car. The moment in the concert will resonate with me for many years to come. That's my moment and nobody can take it away. Number 2, plan outings in bite size pieces. This was a concert, but if it's church, visiting other relatives, going to a doctor's appointment, anything, I encourage you to plan it in bite sized pieces, so that you really know, every single thing that you may need to accomplish well in advance. Line all your ducks in a row, don't just get your LO ready and jump in the car. Have your little bag of medicine, incontinence supplies, cell phone charger, emergency contacts, you know what I mean. Number 3, incorporate music in your LO's everyday life. Music that they know, that they used to sing and know the words to. It can be the same two or three songs every day. It may seem annoying to you, or to those who have to hear it every day, ut it could make a world of difference in the emotional stability of your LO.OUTRO::
Do you have a comment about today's episode? Is there a topic that I've never covered that you want me to handle in a future episode? Cool, text a purple heart two plus 1-404-737-1449, of course I'm gonna put that in the show notes. We keep the Parenting Up caregiving content coming on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. As well go to www.jsmilescomedy.com and sign up or Parenting Up newsletters. 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 gotta be.