We haven’t been caregivers or caretakers (those awful nine letter C words) for Elmer, my developmentally disabled brother-in-law for a couple of years (check out my Elmer stories). At that time, my neurologist wrote a letter saying that my Parkinson’s Disease (PD) was clearly worse with stress, and that the responsibility of caring for Elmer could exacerbate my PD. In other words, it was time for Elmer to find another place to live. At that time, Elmer’s other brother, Bob and his wife, Sue (or as Elmer calls her "Bob's wife") agreed to take care of Elmer. However, it is time for Bob and Sue to take a take a well-deserved Florida vacation away from Elmer. Their college-aged sons are taking care of Elmer for the first four days, and my husband, Tom and I are taking the remaining four-day shift. So today we are getting our home ready for his visit beginning this Wednesday.
First, I hide the phone books from Elmer as I understand that he still is obsessed with bicycles. When he lived with us in the past, he scrutinized the yellow pages and harassed the poor bicycle shop owners with his daily phone calls.
Second, I hide Tom’s electric shaver and my non-electric razors. Elmer goes through about seven electric shavers every couple of years. We finally figured out the shaver problem when we observed him washing his electric shaver in a bowl of warm water and Ivory Liquid. Elmer frequently gets frustrated with his electric shaver and resorts to a non-electric razor. You can imagine what his face looks like with twenty nicks of the razor. (Actually Elmer’s face looks like my nicked legs after I’ve shaved with my shaky PD hands. But that’s another story...)
Third, I hide Tom’s bottle of aftershave. In the past, when Elmer smelled as though he was wearing a bottle of Brut, our friend, Elaine, joked with him, that “you smell like a two bit whore.” Didn’t I also recall Tom missing his bottle of aftershave and accusing Elmer of “borrowing it”? And then Tom’s shaver went missing and his clean underwear as well. Perhaps Elmer wishes to look and smell just like Tom.
I’m uncertain what other quirks of Elmer we will discover during our four-day stint with him. The one thing that is predictable is Elmer’s unpredictability.