My grandmother lost her purse.
My dad and I were eating dinner. My grandmother, rather than eat anything, wanted to find her purse, and she was growing increasingly angry. She looked in the broom closet. She looked in the oven. She stood on her tip-toes and tried to look in the top cabinet. Every cabinet she looked in, she saw the purse wasn’t there and she would shrilly yell about how people shouldn’t hide her things from her.
“Someone threw it in the garbage,” she said. “I’m sure of it.”
“Why would someone throw your purse away? Who would throw your purse away?”
“People throw things away, Allyn, when they don’t know what they are.”
“But who are those ‘people’? Who here is going to throw your purse away?”
“I don’t know, but I know they did.”
I tried engaging her in conversation in the hope of calming her down. An old friend of hers had come over earlier in the day, and they’d gone out for lunch.
“So you went out today,” I said. “How was it?”
“We went to Washington,” my grandmother said. My dad shook his head. “We had lunch with the President.”
“Really? And after that?”
“We went to the mountains in western Maryland.” I pictured the map in my mind — at least two hours away. Again, my dad shook his head.
“And after that?”
“We stopped to see my sister-in-law.”
“And how is Hilda?”
“She’s good. She was baking cookies, like she always does. Then we went out to lunch in Eldersburg.”
“Good, good,” I said.
The conversation didn’t steer her away from hunting for the purse. She’d opened up the china cabinet — again, no purse there — and now she was into the coat closet. I told her, once I was finished with my dinner, I’d help her find her purse.
She’d moved on to the back bedrooms by the time I finished eating.
I walked in the living room. The purse was sitting in the open on the floor between an armchair and the fireplace.
I handed my grandmother the purse. “Where was it?” she demanded.
“The living room,” I said, not elaborating.
“It was not in the living room,” she said, her voice rising. “I looked in there four times. My purse was not in the living room.”
“It was in the living room.” As far as I was concerned the conversation was done.
That she ranted for another two minutes about how someone had hidden the purse and it simply could not have been in the living room didn’t concern me. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. It was the disconnect between what was real and what she thought was real that had me leave the conversation. She was arguing for something that wasn’t real, because that made more sense to her than the reality that her purse was sitting in the open in the living room.
ETA: I just got bitched at because the batteries in her television remote had died.
“I left the house today and everything was working. I come home, and the television doesn’t work,” she said. “I don’t like it when people break my things.”
“No one broke anything,” I said. “The batteries in the remote died. That’s all.”
She pointed at the television. “But it’s plugged in. The batteries in the television aren’t going to die when the television’s plugged in.”
“The television doesn’t have batteries,” I said.
“Of course it doesn’t. It doesn’t need them. It’s plugged in. So I don’t understand why the television doesn’t work.”
“The television does work,” and I hit the power button on the front, bringing up a program on PBS. “It’s the remote that doesn’t work.”
Which then led to five minutes of ranting about people breaking her things, stealing her batteries, a complete ignorance of the relationship between the television and the remote, and my personal favorite — “In all of my years I’ve never had a battery go dead in a flashlight. Never.”