Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Day Out with Mom #1: mind like a trap

Take care of Dad. Clean the house. Cook.

These are the activities which typically fill my mom's time, especially since my father had his stroke. Now, at 88 years old, my mom is still taking care of my dad, who will by 93 in a month, and is still managing the house. It is becoming more difficult, though, as her eyesight deteriorates from bad to non-existent.

Today we went out for a day to run errands, and what I really enjoyed was to see my 88-year-old deaf and blind mom operating in a different environment.

I enjoyed how sharp her mind still is--more in evidence in an environment that required discerning thought. "Where's the cash?" she asked when we finished our bank business, and she had the exact amount in her mind. "Oh, chocolate donuts!" she said and grabbed a box at the grocery store, wanting something new to eat. We also went home with fresh fried chicken and deli potato salad for lunch.

She is very upset that her eyesight is getting worse. "I just can't see!" she says many times a day. "I don't know what I'm going to do." She has been responsible for maintaining the household most of her life, and the idea of not being able to do that--as well as she wants to because she's blind--is her current challenge. I tell her it's OK to get help at her age, and I think she's beginning to understand.

I've also discovered she likes spicy food. Today she wanted hotdogs for lunch. The other day she wanted barbequed chicken. She was impressed that I bought her all-beef hotdogs instead of chicken and pork ones, which are cheaper. She is impressed with my willingness to take extra time to cook, like boiling water for pasta, or cooking some hamburger helper. I'm also becoming a microwave wizard, learning all kinds of little tricks from my mom and brother. The irony is that I'm a long-time vegetarian and eater of organic foods and don't use the microwave for cooking. I don't try to force my choices on my parents and brother, though. I'm with my family to be a caregiver, not a food fanatic.

It was good to see my mom out on the town with me. We bought vacuum bags, and when I came back with one package of 3, she sent me back for another. She's grateful and happy I'm here with them, though, and even puts up with my hanging my clothes on the line rather than in the dryer--something she gave up when she got bit once while hanging clothes.

She still walks well, as long as the walking surface is even. She grabs my arm and off we go. I took her in for a haircut today. Mom made sure I knew it would only be 12 dollars with the senior discount. Mom wanted to pay, but I told her to keep her money for a rainy day.

"You've been telling me that for a month," she said. Nothing wrong with that mind.

Copyright 2013 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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