Friday, January 23, 2009

Taking Care of Mother. And Ourselves.

Wednesday afternoon my sister informed me that she'd spent the day with Mom, and that she was extra confused. "She kept insisting that she didn't know how to pour milk on cereal."

We have figured out that if Mom is really confused, there's usually something behind it. An "event" will rattle her, and she hones in it so much that she can't focus on anything else for a few days. Cereal and milk will be back after this brief interruption in our regularly scheduled show, folks.

I called Mom, then, and she surprised me by blurting out a confession: "I did something wrong last night!! I didn't tell Teri! A man came to the house and I called the police!! He was very nice. I kept telling him that I was trying to call my daughters! It's not going to cost us anything, though, don't worry, it won't cost us anything."

WHAT?! A man came to the house? You let a man in the house? What man? What did he want? What did he do?!!

But you can't shriek "WHAT?" Instead, you have to, while your heart is in your throat, calmly ask what the man wanted. Then you find out that he wanted to know if she was OK. From there you painstakingly piece together she told her story a bit backwardly:

She called the police. And then a man came to the house. And the man was a police man. And she was TRYING to call her daughter. And he was nice, and don't worry, because he won't charge us.

Awwwwwww. I tell her that it's ok; she accidentally hit the 911 button on the phone, that's all. It's okay.

By then, I was pulling into her driveway, to check up on things. In checking up, I realized that I was at fault for Mom's scare. This is the phone we bought for her:

She loves this phone. She just punches us in the face, and it calls us!

Our photos are stuck in there with two tiny little corner tabs, and my sister's photo had come loose the day before. I had distractedly popped it back into the square.

Um. Back into the 9-1-1 square. My mother tried to call my sister and ended up with the cops on the line. I can only imagine what kind of tailspin that put her in, and I wonder if she didn't hang up and try to call Teri again.

Crap. I fessed up right away, telling Mom that it was my fault, and what I'd done. I apologized, profusely. Her relief was visible and instantaneous, and the set about comforting me for making the mistake. "You take such good care of me," she told me.

I remind her that I recently cut her finger while clipping her nails and closed the car door too soon, whacking her in the elbow. "I'm surprised you even let me in the house!"

We laugh, and agree: we take as good care of each other as we know how.

This week we "broke down" and got a little outside help. I've been putting it off, calling outside resources. I finally broached the subject with Mom last week, when she skipped lunch, which contributed to her fainting while we were shopping:

Meals on Wheels, Mom! Hot lunch, every day.

She was incensed. "I'm perfectly capable of making my own lunch!" Hmph!

I know you are, Ma. It's up to you. It would just be nice to have hot food, with fresh salad and fruit every day.

This is me, looking shifty eyed, while I try to convince my mother.

Not so much grocery shopping, Mom!

Blink. Blink.

No more dishes!

It's cheaper than eating out, that's for sure.

What's she thinking now? Is she going to cave?

She didn't cave. She could By God get her own lunch. She tattled on me the next day, telling Teri that I had talked to her about Meals on Wheels.

My sister said "Dang, I wish I could have a hot lunch delivered to my door everyday at lunch time!"

That's my sister, now. Try to keep up.

Eureka! Apparently Teri's shiftier than I am (like we didn't know that already), because she called me the next day, and said "Mom thinks she'd like to try Meals on Wheels."

Yay! I got my pen and pencil out, and dialed M.O.W., preparing to take down a list all of the stuff I'd have to gather to get mom started. Statements and forms, and maiden names would have to be provided, I just knew.

But no. Here's how it went:

Me: I'd like to get my mom started on Meals on Wheels.

Nice M.O.W. Lady: Ok. We'll start Friday. What's her address? See you at noon. Bye.

And that's it! They'll bill us!

She got her first lunch today: Fish, potato wedges, green beans, a side salad with ranch dressing, a fruit cup, and a carton of milk.

$6.05 a day.

I can already tell that this has been a monumentally good idea for all of us. My sister and I, on day #1, are already relieved. Although we cook for her, wrap up individual meals and slices of meatloaf, for the microwave, there are days when she reaches for a crappy Banquet frozen dinner for one meal or another. I hate that.

She'll have a nice hot lunch on every weekday, and we can be over after work to help out with dinner. Weekends she's usually with one of us anyway, so we're set.

All of this: good food, a load off our minds, an extra smiling face at Mom's door every day, all for $30 a week.

Remind me again, why we are so hesitant to seek out help?


  1. That is just beyond awesome. I am so glad that MOW is so available, so easy, and so affordable!

    There may also be a local Peace Meal program she can go to- where she can go out of the house to a local church/community building and visit with other seniors... Might be worth investigating.

  2. Because we all get stupid sometimes. As was left over at mine today (under very different circumstances but still...) "Well...DUH!" Don't beat yourself up. We ALL get stupid sometimes. :)

  3. Meals on Wheels is a wonderful resource and I'm glad y'all have it for your Mom. You guys are a great and loving family. Hopefully your Mom will continue to make the good decisions that the shifty eyed sisters lead her to ;)

  4. Anonymous6:49 PM

    That is such a good idea. She will also love having a nice person come to her house every day. They are very good if they can't get ahold of her also. They will contact you right away. That is a very good peace of mind thing for you and Teri. Talk to you later, Kelly

  5. Meal on Wheels is fantastic----good for ALL of you for getting it. My parents were opposed to it so my sister gave a month's worth of it to them as a gift...then they were hooked. My mother saves the big meal for dinner and reheats because she finds it easier to make lunch for herself---

  6. Make sure to tell mom they're coming. I can see it now, 911, Honey there's a man at my door and he wants $6.50.

  7. That's so great! And how easy they make it to sign up; that's a shocker. Hopefully your mom likes the food. I wonder who makes the meals? I think I used to know, but I can't remember now.

    Love the shifty-eyed baby!

  8. Oh wow - I read this the other day while Marc was still here and we were both shuddering...I'm so glad it worked out the way it did.
    BTW, you and your sister make a great team :-) - *love* the shifty-eyed kid in the plaid hat. (lol)

  9. p.s. we did meals on wheels for my father-in-law for a while and it was wonderful....the people were so incredibly nice and they always left so much food!


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