Hold, on. Take it easy. She may not be a liar. You’re right, I don’t know her. So let’s start with a sample test.
1. Is she still alive?
2. Is she 90 or over?
3. Is she still “as sharp as a tack”?
If you answered “yes” to all three questions, then she’s a liar.
There you go again. Just settle down. Here, take my Aunt Helen. She’s 93, still reads a couple of books a week, albeit in large print. She loves all her relatives and would do anything for them.
And yet, she’s an unabashed, unbridled, unmistakable “LIAR!” (Picture Charles Laughton yelling that at Marlene Dietrich on the stand in “Witness for the Prosecution.”
You want a for instance? I got ‘em by the bushel…and I got her dead (oh no) to rights.
Ask her if she’s: A. Taken her pills. B. Been eating well. C. Drinking enough water.
Don’t believe me? Hey, I’m not as cold blooded as she is to carry off a lie.
Try calling her on these matters. Make an excuse to look in her refrigerator.
Open the fridge and you’ll see some wilted lettuce and dried out carrots that any self respecting rabbit would turn up his twitchy nose at. Some day old, week old, or shudder-to-think old meatloaf—you used to love her meatloaf, but now you wouldn’t take a chance—without the benefit of carbon dating. Shake the carton of milk—you’ll hear globules hitting the sides.
Ask her about it, and she’ll blithely state, “Oh, I haven’t had time to go to the store, I’ve been going out every day for lunch and dinner. Where? Uh…The Stork Club…and some other exclusive places you wouldn’t know.” Press her on this, and her story will get even more outlandish, but delivered with such sincerity, you start doubting your own sanity.
Her meds? Check the pill caddy. She or a look-in caregiver may have filled the week’s supply correctly, but why on a Friday are the Tuesday A.M. pills still in their compartment?
You’ll hear bare faced lies like a burglar held a gun to her head and ordered her not to take them.
Hydrating? It’s 85 degrees in her place. You’d think she’d just come in from falling in a snow bank, what with that sweater and her Afghan on.
She croaks through cracked lips that she’s drinking plenty of water, and ignores my offers to pick up some bottled water or juice for her.
I called her up a couple of weeks ago and told her I wanted to drop off some goodies. She told me not to stop by for a couple of weeks—that she was really swamped (what a social butterfly—putting her dollar in the residents’ weekly football pool must take up a lot of her time).
I was relentless, “What’s wrong?”
After an extremely long pause she grudgingly admitted, “I fell.”
She still tried to cover though. “Oh, it wasn’t really a fall…more of a slip. It looks a lot worse than it is. That’s what the doctor said. ‘Which doctor?’ Oh you don’t know him. Anyway, he’s on a mission for Doctors Without Borders.”
There’s one word that describes these elderly relatives—“crafty.”
I was shocked that a proper church going lady would lie through her teeth, or her gums if I caught her early in the morning.
I spilled all this to a relative, who’s a psychiatrist.
He nodded all the way through my ranting, and then said, “Confabulation.”
“Confabulation. It’s been called ‘honest lying.’”
“So it’s really a thing?”
“Oh, it’s a thing all right. People who confabulate provide information, or act based on
information, that is obviously false. These people are genuinely unaware of the errors in their memory.
I thought for awhile that I could let my Aunt Helen, and by extension, your mom, off the hook, but then, I thought again.
Think back. Way back. To when you were an innocent child who trusted people, especially your parents.
Isn’t your mom the same person who, without batting an eye, swore up and down to you about about the existence of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy?
Once a liar, always a liar.