I haven’t written anything about my Mom in Indiana for a while. She’s now been in a nursing home for about 14 months and I believe the stages of nursing-home-living match the stages of grief. Mom has now entered the “acceptance” part of this new adventure or at least she seems to be. Like many “old-time” moms, she has that special way of “silent-suffering.”
I talk to her most evenings on the phone. The three hour time zone usually means I’m her “good-night” call before her eight o’clock beddy-bye.
The main quantity-meal is served at 12:15. They call it dinner. The evening meal, supper, is around 5:30 and it’s a lite-meal. As you can imagine, the endless days revolve around food and the occasional entertainment. There are ongoing card games, bingo, crafts, daily-rehab stuff, etc. Yet, the gathering of 100 old farts in the dining room every day is a big deal. About ½ of them have to be fed. It takes a good hour to get through the meal, so there’s always anticipation and hunger build-up. Sometimes if things are running slow, they start banging there spoons on their water glasses. These folks are serious about their food.
Every night’s conversation is hilarious, but last night was worth mentioning. I don’t record our talks but I can remember the dialogue.
ME: “Did you have a nice meal today, Mom?”
MOM: “Would you eat something if you didn’t know what it was…and it looked awful? I asked my table-mate what the hell is this supposed to be? She said– it’s Spaghetti. I told her– this ain’t Spaghetti. Look at this big ball in the middle. I think its cabbage. Do you put cabbage in Spaghetti? She acted like she couldn’t hear me.”
“Mom, I think it was probably stuffed cabbage. You know –basically hamburger inside a rolled-up cabbage leaves.”
“Honey, I can think of many things to do with hamburger before I put it in cabbage. What’s the matter with just giving us a good ol’ hamburger. You know…grilled onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce. No sticking it in cabbage for me. It looked horrible. I waited till tonight and they had tuna-salad. I ate that and it was ok.”
“Well, good, I know you like tuna.”
“I can’t go too many days without eating or my pajamas will fall off my butt. I have gained five pounds.”
“Really, what do you weigh now”?
“I’m up to 105. I think I weighed 110 when I got married in 1937.”
“Yeah, you’re getting fat. Hey I got my plane tickets. I‘ll be there to see you in late October. I think I’m staying with George. He was very kind to offer me a place to stay.”
“Well, I probably will never see you when you’re home.”
“Why would you say that?”
“I know how you and George like to talk and drink beer.”
“Good night mom, I love you.
“I love you too and tell Amy I love her. Good night.”