This is the fourth experience Sally has shared with us about caring for her mother who suffered with dementia….
It’s high time we got you some new shoes, I said to my mother. The words and the tone of voice whisked me instantly back to my childhood, when Mum would say the very same thing to me. There is a lot of that role-reversal going in my life these days.
With the boot now on the other foot, to coin a most apposite phrase, I hooked Mum’s arm into mine and off we set to get her re-shod, sensibly.
We soon spotted the perfect style. I looked around to catch the eye of a salesgirl, woman, person, whatever we’re meant to call them, and smiled my best merry smile as she approached us. I got nothing back. Not a flicker of interest.
Ms Personality-Bypass trailed off to fetch a pair in the right size. She then stood back and stared as, bent double and trying not to groan audibly with the effort, I used my thumb and forefinger as a shoe-horn to ease Mum’s foot into the first shoe.
May we have that sloping stool thing do you think? I asked Ms P-B, who was standing right in front of it. It would really help, I added, to encourage her as she half-kicked, half-tugged the thing into place.
Next I requested a shoe horn, which, after I explained what it was to Ms P-B, she managed to produce with the aid of a colleague.
The shoes were now on and Mum declared them to be ideal. What do you think, I asked Ms P-B? Are they a good fit? Can you feel if my mother’s toes are in the right place?
Ms P-B finally spoke. “We don’t fit shoes,” she said. “We leave it to the customer to decide if they feel right.”
Of course I should have left. I should have gathered up my little mama and stalked out in a huff. Except I couldn’t. Such a gesture loses its impact when everything with dear Mum takes for ever and explanations have to be shouted into ears from which the hearing-aids have been craftily removed and declared to be “someone else’s”.
I gave myself the slight satisfaction of remarking to Ms P-B that her job must be considerably lacking in satisfaction, but she didn’t appear to care.
Quietly fuming by now, I eventually gathered up our things and steered Mum out of the shop with our mission unaccomplished. One yard beyond the door, Mum had no idea we’d even been in there, while I was vowing never to return.
The shoe problem was solved in due course when my sister acquired several pairs on approval from a local independent shop, owned and managed by a kind man who was sympathetic to our predicament.
It only took us about a month to wean Mum away from the familiar old pair and to accept the new ones, and she’s very happy with them now.