Dementia · Life

The Day Keely was in Denial (Guest Post. Ish.)

This is not my story. I am sharing it with permission. So these are the words of my sister Mary Lou, edited lightly for perspective and clarity (mostly for those who don’t know all the names).

Bob called my sister’s house. Bob is a guy from southern Ohio that befriended my nephew Nolan, and has kept in touch with him over the years. Even recently, when Nolan moved several counties east of us for work.

So anyway, Bob called, and asked about how Mom is slipping. Keely, my niece, who picked up the phone, flatly denied it. Bob approached it a bit more gently, and said that Nolan says she gets mixed up … confused … maybe depressed? Finally, Keely came right out and told him: Mom is fine. She does not know what Nolan thinks is going on, but he’s just WRONG!

At this point in the story, both Mary Lou and I are concerned not only for Mom, but for Keely. I mean, she’s been spending a lot of time around here, and she seriously hasn’t noticed?!? Either her powers of observation are nonexistent, or she’s so deeply in denial that we may never be able to pull her out.


Nobody knows exactly when the penny dropped, but Keely finally realized that Bob, so patiently repeating his concerns, thought he was talking to Mary Lou.

Which means the mom who is losing it, well … is. And Keely had spent the last ten minutes impersonating her mother. Her lunatic mother, hip deep in denial. Who had maybe been a teensy bit rude, when pushed.

And because she was embarrassed and doesn’t know Bob very well, she very nearly didn’t fess up to him. But because she’s a good girl and loves her mother, she did.

We do wonder if Bob has quite recovered. Bet he doesn’t call back.

Possibly the best part of this story* is that, after no one told Mom (my mom, not Keely’s!) about it by silent mutual consent, Mary Lou reversed herself and told Mom the whole story. She said Mom so completely enjoyed it that she was sorry for ever doubting her, and it was pure joy to hear her giggling so much.

*And the only reason I’m sharing it so publicly.

2 thoughts on “The Day Keely was in Denial (Guest Post. Ish.)

  1. Poor Keely. I had a similar experience several years ago when my mother was still a nurse. An older woman asked how my mother was and I explained how she still works in Dunlap Hospital’s E.R., how she loves being a nurse and keeps busy, etc. The poor woman was stunned and responded, “I can’t believe she’s still working; isn’t your mother in her 90’s?” Indeed, Clara Hartzler is (was) in her 90’s at the time, but I’m not Lorene!

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