My Blog

November 14, 2015

Elderly Mothers and Other Caregivers

The ‘Other Caregiver’ (hereinafter OC) and the Steam cleaner are in charge at home and I am in San Antonio. I should be feeling relaxed, relieved and headed toward refreshed. But no. I’m feeling guilty, nervous and way too concerned about how things are going back at the ranch.

The OC can handle it

The OC can handle it

First of all, Mom is really cranky that the OC is there. Not that she doesn’t love having her there, mind you, but she has been trying to prove that she can get along fine on her own. Which I’m sure she can. Some mornings I see her light on at 4 am and by the time I get there, she has fixed her own oatmeal. Most of the time, however, by the time I get out to the trailer at 7 or 8, she’s gone back to sleep.

I try to let her be independent. When I get back from the dog-walk, I go in to ask if she has eaten breakfast, in hopes that she has made her own oatmeal. I left the ¼ cup measuring cup with the packet of instant oatmeal in the blue bowl—so it won’t boil over in the microwave. A simple task. I’ve even cut up her papaya and squeezed the lemon on it.

Sometimes she does. But far too often, she’s feeling ‘lazy’ and  hasn’t ‘bothered’ to fix it for herself. Still in bed reading Reacher. I know that she is not lazy at all, but doesn’t have the energy to get up and do it. I shudder to think what would happen if she were with hubby Al down in Florida. He gets up, eats his banana—no, make that bananas, plural—and heads for the tennis courts before dawn. Leaving her to fend for herself.

I suppose that if she doesn’t feel like getting up or fixing her breakfast, I shouldn’t worry about it. Let her feel successful at something—like burning the toast.

Signs of independence

Signs of independence

How important is it to let her get her own breakfast? Or trust her to reheat her own supper and not splatter spaghetti sauce all over the inside of the microwave? If it makes her feel like she is still in charge, I should let her, shouldn’t I?

So, with the OC at the trailer, I ought to feel confident that Mom will get her breakfast as she should. But my thoughts and worries swarm like gnats gathering around Mom’s over-ripe fruit. Will the OC use the serrated knife to cut the Italian bread an inch thick? And then butter and toast it in the oven the way Mom likes?

One slice not two

One slice not two

Will she let Mom have store-bought jam? Will she cut up the papaya? Or should I have left a note about using up the pineapple? Will she set up the breakfast tray the way I do?

Puhleeze!! Get a grip! Mom will eat anything and everything that is put in front of her, right down to the shine on the plates.

I’ve been tempted to leave a list of exactly how I make the breakfast. If it were a stranger, perhaps that might be necessary. This OC, however, has her own methods—vegetarian, you know—so she does it her way. And this OC would get as insulted as Mom if I make suggestions on how to do things. “I know how to fix her breakfast!” And her lunch and her supper. So I keep my mouth shut and trust the OC.

I want to call (it’s only 4:51 am) and find out how things are going. I know that says more about me than it does about Mom. But I can’t help worrying. Feeding Mom has become a habit, and habits are hard to break. I swear, I’m not pacing the floor and wringing my hands over this. I’m sitting here typing and venting in this blog. Who knew writing a blog could be a cathartic experience?

Getting fat? Good or bad?

Getting fat? Good or bad?

Okay, relax. She can’t starve with the OC there. But the OC says she is getting fat. If Mom is planning to make it to 100, only another four years, then the OC says she needs to lose weight, and exercise. OMG! Is she going to refuse to give Mom the Italian bread with butter? Or not let her eat processed, store-bought jam? Oh, no! *grips head in hands*

But, one thing is for sure, they’ll get plenty of exercise running the steam cleaner, and believe me, both of them will be sure to have their noses in it.

At least that is one chore I won’t have to worry about.

About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!

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