Spizzle Jitney

SI commented on someone’s kitchen blog that I was growing low-fat, shredded cheese in my garden. Or so that’s how the words came out. That was in August 2011.

This is when my mother Emma’s dementia decline has reached the stage where she doesn’t say many words anymore. She hasn’t admonished me lately, even, with “You get your hands off my walker!” She just hits and kicks – oh, and sticks out her tongue. One day, though, as I am seating her at the dining room table and instructing her to put her feet under the table rather than to the side of the chair, she scolds, “Get your feet out of my way!” It is the chair legs. I am standing behind her chair.

Back in 2008, when Emma was still somewhat cognizant, and she had just gotten her walker, she didn’t fall for a while and she was still able to communicate and do some things for herself. Nevertheless, over the next year or so, some words came out funny, like the time my friend R came over and cooked dinner for us. When she was done eating, Emma got up from the table, took her walker, and as she passed behind R, still sitting at the table opposite me, said, “Spizzle jitney.”

“Spizzle jitney…?” said R.

“Yeah, I think so,” I said.

“What does that mean?” he asked.  She used to refer to her walker as her Caddy, like the Cadillacs she owned, so R wondered if she was referring to her walker. “Or, is she saying that it’s a jitney?” he speculated.

“No. I think she was thanking you, telling you ‘Special dinner,’” I replied. I still think that’s what she was trying to say. She doesn’t say much now, in August 2011, except “Thank you,” “Nice to see you” and “You leave my walker alone,” but back then, two to four years earlier, she would talk a little and some words and phrases came out funny.

Samantha Mozart

14 Responses to Spizzle Jitney

  1. Robert Price says:

    It was an honor to enjoy those special dinners with Emma at the head of the table. I often remember her sense of humor, like the time I picked Jetta’s dog bowl from the floor and placed on the corner of the dinning room table, her eyes on me and red lips smiling, said, “I don’t care for any.” Emma nver lost her sense of humor, Emma would be the first to smile.

    Here’s to all the spizzle jitneys!



    • sammozart says:

      Yes, I was just about to write a post on that, R.

      She never lost her sense of humor and especially enjoyed it when you were around.



  2. Such a sad post, and yet I love that you were able to laugh about it. Because what else can you do, really, in a situation like that? It’s a good lesson, for all of us.

    • sammozart says:

      It’s true, Sara, we must laugh. And it really was a funny situation. My mother would have laughed, too.


  3. Gwynn Rogers says:

    Fortunately, my mom’s words didn’t change, she simply could not keep the connection between her brain and her mouth going so she couldn’t get the words out or find them. It is sad watching this happen. It must have been a very frustrating time for you. I can relate!

    • sammozart says:

      It was frustrating, Gwynn, very much so, throughout that decade. But in the early and middle stages it was also funny. Laughing took the lid off the pot and released the steam. I am fortunate I had people to laugh with, both friends and healthcare aides, especially my hospice team.

      Thanks. I know you can relate.

  4. Marsha Lackey says:

    Those are the times that give us a grin and a butterfly or more in our tummies. As usual, your post triggered emotion. Very sweet!

    • sammozart says:

      Thank you, Marsha. I’m glad I was able to carry across that emotion in my writing. I like the “grin and a butterfly” wording. 🙂

      Through it all, my mother never forgot her manners.

  5. Val Rainey says:

    I was very lucky Sam. My mom never got to that point. She was always in the minute, just not five minutes ago. She always loved music and even though she couldn’t remember where she put her glasses, never could; she could sing along with almost every song that Brian played to her on his guitar.
    Amazing lady! It will be five years in November since she strolled over Rainbow Bridge to meet up with my dad.

    • sammozart says:

      My mother retained her knowledge of and love for music right up to the end, too, Val. Just months before she died she sat at her electronic organ, read the music and played a piece. So, I think that’s more motor memory than intellectual. We have a friend who came and played his guitar and sang, and she loved that.

      Time passes quickly. My mother passed away three years ago, already, this April 11; my father 10 and a half years ago, in 2004. And here we are, preparing to tread that Rainbow Bridge.


  6. Susan Scott says:

    Yes, poignant yet humorous at the same time. I was in smile mode already when I read about you telling someone you were growing your own cottage cheese. It’s great that you’re recording the journey Samantha, for yourself, in honour of your mother, and for others. Thank you.

    • sammozart says:

      Thanks, Susan. Yes, my recording this journey serves multiple purposes — both personally and as a legacy. If it helps others, then it’s done well.

      Actually, my friend R and I have developed a whole vocabulary of words that aren’t quite right; for instance, I will tell him to have a ludicrous day when I really mean lucrative. It arose from our not being able to find the right word when we’re conversing with each other.

      Glad you smiled. 🙂

  7. Pat Garcia says:

    This is a sad post. It is hard watching the ones we love die. To see their bodies shut down day by day is something that we constantly have to come to terms with, because that is the solution that leads to acceptance.


    • sammozart says:

      It is the solution that leads to acceptance, Patricia. Well put. And her decline was very hard to watch at the end. That’s why I think my second book is better than my first, because it deals intensely with the end, with death and dying.

      Here, a few years earlier, when she said spizzle jitney, it was funny. It had to be, otherwise I never would have gotten through it; and thank goodness “R” was there to laugh with me. My mother would have laughed, too, had she known. I’ll write more of that in an upcoming A-Z.

      Thank you, my friend.