Bible Verse

Beg as loud as you can for good common sense. Proverbs 2:3

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Sharpest Crayon?

Something happened this past week that brought back memories of when I worked at the Marshall-Jackson Mental Health Center back in the ‘80’s.  I was a secretary doing secretary-type things:  answering the phone for the psychiatrist and therapists, keeping appointment books and typing up the information for the many mental evaluations and progress reports.

Part of the evaluation was to ask the person a series of simple questions to test their mental awareness, stuff that a person should automatically know.
The something that happened this past week was that my 92-year-old mother had a mental evaluation for the first time in her life.  It had to do with an insurance issue.

When Mom and Daddy moved to the assisted living facility where Mom still lives, all the attention was on Daddy because his level of care was much higher than Mom’s.  In fact, Mom helped my dad quite a bit in addition to what the staff did for him.  When he died at 100 years of age in 2011, his mind was still pretty sharp.
A nurse from the insurance company came to Mom’s apartment for the evaluation.  I was there in case I was needed.  (Needed for what, I don’t know.  I guess I have a need to be needed or I’m just plain nosy.)

Nurse Faye (since I can’t remember her name, we’ll just use this) was very kind, and I could tell that she had a heart for the elderly.  Which was good, since I was in the room, too.
Nurse Faye asked Mom some health questions and I helped a little with the dates.  Things were going smoothly.

Until she actually got to the mental stuff.  Just for fun, I decided to answer the questions in my head.
Nurse Faye asked Mom if she knew where she was, her address, the season of the year, where she last lived, etc.  Mom knew all of that, with the exception of the name of the street she lives on.  I know the feeling.  When I was setting up this appointment, I couldn’t remember my own address.  I’m sure the woman on the phone was wondering if the right person was going to be tested.

Nurse Faye then said, “I’m going to say three words, and I want you to say them back to me exactly as I say them.  *”Tree, chair, flower”  And Mom said them back to her perfectly.  I reversed two of them and was certain Mom was wrong until Nurse Faye said, “Good job.  You got them all right.”
Determined not to let a 92-year-old woman beat me, I started concentrating a little more.

Q:  Spell *earth. 
A:   We both got that right.

Q:   Now spell it backwards. 
A:   I was suddenly blank.  How did *earth end?  Mom said, “e-a-r-t-h.”

Q:  What were those three words I had you repeat a little while ago?
A:   I’m thinking, “Words?  What words?  I don’t remember any words.”  And then my mother said, *Tree, chair and flower.”  Oh, yeah, those words.

Q:   I’m going to give you a piece of paper with something written on it, and I want you to read what it says and then do it.
A:  Hey, no fair!  I’m across the room and can’t see it.  Mom closed her eyes.  Another correct one.

I’m feeling left out here.  I haven’t scored very well, so I’m hoping for some easy questions.  Nope.
Q:  Write any complete sentence on that paper.

A:  As Mom wrote, I thought of the sentence I would have written:  I really am sharper than my mother.  Honest.
Q:  Take this paper and pencil and draw this design.

A:  Hey!  I can’t see the design!  How am I supposed to redeem myself if you won’t show me what you’re doing?  Mom completed it and handed it to Nurse Faye.
Q:  Take this paper, fold it in half, and put it on the floor.

A:  All right, that’s it.  I’m reporting this to someone.
While I grumbled to myself, she asked a few more questions and then announced the end of the test.  I tried to be polite to this person who had just shattered any notion I had that I was doing pretty well in the mental health category.

Remind me to never witness another mental evaluation again.  In the meantime, I’m going to get a copy of that thing and memorize the answers. 
I just hope they don’t change the questions.

*In keeping with complete transparency, I really can’t remember these words, so I just made them up.  So sue me…

Mom and Gracie


  1. Laugh out loud funny! Oh Carol, when we get our mansions I heaven, u hope yours is next to mine!

    1. Now, that would be heaven! And I don't think I'll have to remember my address...

  2. Carol, you are so funny. I remember my Dad taking one of those tests. I was aware he would fail, and so was my Mom, but her shocked facial expressions every time Dad missed something concerned me. Maybe she was doing what you were doing.

    1. She probably was, Barbara. I think all of us old people are afraid someone will realize we're one fry short of a happy meal and cart us off, never to be seen again...

  3. That was hysterical! I am going to miss your other blog,So sad!

  4. I'm glad you liked it, Margie. You're sweet to say that about my other blog. But I just don't have the time to invest in it. We'll see where God leads me next! It's exciting!