Sunday, December 4, 2011


     You may wrongly believe that taking in one person is inexpensive.  After all, how much can they eat?  You’ll soon learn that they will want special foods---their kind of food, not yours.  They want little things like Kleenex, special toilet tissue, a certain cereal, and many many items that you don’t have in your house.  Accommodating their wishes and making your home as much like their own life style as you can really makes your role a lot easier.  I found this out the hard way!
     When I brought my mother-in-law her lunch one Saturday, she said, “I don’t want this crap again.” (“crap” was one of her favorite words.)  I had warmed some roast from last night’s dinner for her, with potatoes and gravy, vegetables and bread, thinking she would like it.  But she let me know in no uncertain terms that she did not like eating the same meal two times in a row.  We were accustomed to leftovers the day after a roast beef dinner.  You know, hot roast beef sandwiches or cold sandwiches.  We liked leftovers.  She didn’t!
     Thinking I could make her happy by giving her something special, I asked her what she would like, if she could have anything she wanted.  That was a real mistake.  I thought she would request something easy, not a whole meal that was completely foreign to me.
     She answered, “You wouldn’t be able to fix it, even if I told you what I wanted.”
     I said, “Try me.”
     After a long silence while she thought about it, she said, “I’d like to have some friend chicken livers, black-eyed peas and some white hominy, both flavored with bacon grease and bits.”
     Boy, was I sorry I had asked.  This was definitely not the kind of food I keep in my cupboard.  But, I had asked so I thought I would make a stab at fixing it.  It was Saturday; my husband was off playing golf with his friends and I had all day to experiment.  If it made her happy, it would be worth the effort.  I drove to the store and found the chicken livers easily, but the black-eyed peas were a different story.  I went to two different stores before I found them and the hominy.  I hurried home to start my Southern fried dinner for Mother.  Actually I enjoyed the prospect of doing something that might make her happy.  I hoped.
     Mother gave me instructions for cooking this culinary masterpiece, so I breaded the chicken livers and placed them in the hot grease to brown, while I simmered black-eyed peas and the hominy in bacon grease, with a little of the liquid from the can.  I thought it smelled terrible, except for the chicken livers and onions.  When I finished cooking, I laid the meal on a pretty tray, with a flower in a small vase.  There was everything she wanted along with a hot cup of coffee, which she loved.  It really looked pretty darn good.
     I took it to mother and she gazed in amazement at the repast.
     “I didn’t think you would really make it for me,” she said.  She lit up like a Christmas tree and seemed happy for a change.  She took three bites of each item and quit.  that is all she ate of this special meal I worked so hard on, but at least she was happy for a change.  She drifted off to sleep, content.  It was a small thing, but it was important to her.  I’m glad I tried.
     I didn’t bother freezing the leftovers, thinking that she wouldn’t eat them again anyway, since she didn’t like to eat things twice in a row.  but it wasn’t long before she asked for a repeat of this meal.  Since I had thrown it out, I had to start over again.   Oh well, it was easier the second time.  At least I knew where to find the items and I froze all the leftovers, this time
     When I told my husband of the incident, he laughed.  He said that was the kind of food her family had always eaten.  I learned something that day.  It is the little things that make us happy.  I wouldn’t have imagined a heavy Southern meal was to her liking, but I started asking her each Saturday what she would like.  Saturdays were my days off and it was easy for me to find any unusual food items she might want, I was amazed at the difference it made in her attitude, and she began looking forward to Saturdays and her special meals---and so did I.
     It is the little things that make u happy.  They can be expensive, so if you have family to help ease the financial burden, now is the time to ask for help.  Siblings could relieve you once in a while or contribute financially to the patient’s care.  We would like to think that all of the family would take their turn with the care of their parent.
     Some family members have opted to move the parent to each of their houses on a rotation basis.  One or two months are spent with each child.  If the parent agrees and is able to get around, it can work.  It might be difficult if the parent is not ambulatory.  Moving so often can be hard on the parent, but it will be easier on the family when they all take turns caring for the parent.  Of course, the whole family should discuss the parent’s care.  After all, the parent belongs to everyone in the family.  If it is decided that one sibling will be the primary caregiver, while the rest could help monetarily.

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