Imaginary Exterminator

During the last years of my Mom’s life, she had a lot of health problems including a particularly nasty type of dementia.  She would very often have unpleasant hallucinatins that were very real to her.  Because of her multiple health problems, she lived with Ed and I for a little more than a decade.  One of her most recurring hallucinations was that bugs were eating her clothes and the resulting holes made the clothes unwearable. When Ed or I would try to help her dress in the morning, she would often go into her closet and point out to us she had no clothes to wear because they all had holes.  To her the holes were real and to try to convince her otherswise was pointless.  Trying to be creative, I told her I was going to use a strong insecticide in her closet to get rid of the bugs.  Because of toxicity I needed her to stay out of the bedroom while I was spraying the closet.  I then went into the closet with a can of aromatic air freshener, a broom, dust pan and a plastic bag. While my Mom waited right outside the bedroom door, I sprayed the closet with aromatic air freshener. I  would sweep the floor loudly so she could hear me collecting the offending bugs in the dust pan.   Finally I rustled the plastic bag noisily and made a knot in the top of it.  My Mom went in and inspected her clothes and found that all the bugs were gone and her clothes no longer had holes in them.  She could smell the air freshener (which I convinced her was the insecticide) and I told her I had swept up the dead bugs and put them in the bag.  She would pick out a dress and I would finish helping her get dressed. This worked several times.

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