I am the only child (youngest) out of 3 natural and 5 stepchildren that visits my mother every week at her dementia care facility and takes her out for dinner and shopping. The others ignore her for months at a time. No one has insisted I do this, it's my decision, but I get a lot of static from total strangers. (I won't go into it here, but my mother kept me from seeing my father from the time I was 7 when she dumped him for a married man, until I was 21.) When my dad was dying, I went to see him. At that time, my aunt and stepmother gave me a lot of information that I didn't know and it made me resent my mother. However, I do still love and respect her and I try to help as much as possible.
Recently, while on a shopping trip, she was being snappish and willful and I was overheated, exhausted, and irritated. We finally reached the checkout and the cashier asked that question, "did you find everything you needed?" Well, Mom launched into a tirade that she couldn't find her favorite candy. Everywhere we go, she asks cashiers about it. At this particular store, they have never carried it and I tell her that every time we go there - usually more than once a trip. Eyeing the long line behind us, this time I just said "Mom, you're thinking of another store, they do not have it here, please let's just get going." Now my mom is partially deaf and I have to speak loudly for her to hear me. She reads lips and is constantly telling people to talk slowly and face her. So I said this loudly and very slowly. Like a 2 year old, she stubbornly refused to leave the checkout without her candy, so I began walking away, hoping she would just let it go and follow me. As I was leaving, the cashier made a loud remark about how "mean" I was to my mother. Now, it is necessary for me to speak loudly and slowly so she can hear. Repeating myself is also necessary because of the dementia. I did not use abusive language or tone and I certainly don't get physical with her.
Admittedly, after dealing with her behavior throughout the store, my patience was a bit thin, but I was very offended by the cashier's interpretation of me being "mean." I have a son on the autism spectrum and it reminds me of dealing with strangers observing and commenting on his public behavior when he was a child. Why do people feel the need to put in their two cents?