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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Juicy July - 2019 - Stream of Consciousness Saturday - Instructions

Linda, how timely you are with these prompts of yours!  Today's is to give instructions on something you know how to do.  I had some intense instructions from my mom yesterday so I can now share them with you.

Back story:  My mom will be 96 years old next month.  Up until the last two months she has been fully functional, living alone, driving herself to the grocery store, library and church.  She was very proud of the fact that she passed her driving test (after 3 failed attempts) and tells everyone that the "State of California said I could drive until I was 101!"  (Maybe stay out of the State of California for a while - LOL).

This was about 5 years ago around her 90th birthday.

In June she had a urinary tract infection and her blood sugars went very high (she is diabetic) and I took her to the emergency room where they gave her antibiotics and some insulin to help bring her sugars down.  The infection cleared but she was still feeling weak and suffered a fall.  A trip to the doctors revealed a stubbed toe with a blister (not good in someone with diabetes) and a compression fracture of L1.  She was told to rest but 3 days later she was in a lot of pain so another trip to the ER was made.  They gave her a walker, told her to take Tylenol and sent her home but ordered a home health nurse and physical and occupational therapy.

Fortunately I live close and while we do not have room in our house to have her come and stay while she recuperates, I am able to go and check on her every day.  She is depressed and feels like she will never get better but actually each day she is getting stronger and the Tylenol alone is helping to control her pain.  The nurse and therapists have all visited and given her some instructions about how to use the walker and a few easy exercises to strengthen her upper arms and her legs. 

She is able to get up and put food in the microwave by herself and generally makes a big batch of something and puts it in containers in the freezer.  She was proud of the fact that each of her meals are "less than a dollar."  Obviously in her condition she cannot stand or maneuver enough to make the meals so I told her that I would cook for her.  Now for the real instructions (per my mom, sitting in a chair by the kitchen counter)...

First you take the pan and cover it with tin foil, but the tin foil is very thin so you have to be extremely careful that it doesn't tear or get holes.  If it does you have to start all over.  (I suggested she get stronger tin foil but that didn't go over well).  Make sure you put enough foil on to cover the sides.  Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.

Next you need to get out a plastic bag and put it on the floor in the corner because you will be opening a lot of frozen food bags and you will need a place to put the garbage.  (I did not do this step as there was already a bag on the counter for this purpose.  She didn't like that.)

Then you need to put olive oil all over the bottom of the pan.  A lot of olive oil.  (Apparently I did not put enough at first because she said, "If you have to move the pan like that to coat it, you don't have enough oil.")

Next put the potatoes on the bottom.  Spread them out all over evenly.  Then the bell pepper mix on top.  Add some salt...the salt comes out of the package too heavy so put some salt in your hand and then sprinkle 3 pinches over the food.  Then some pepper, onion powder, garlic salt and Italian seasonings.  Put some more olive oil over the top and put it in the oven for an hour but check it after a half an hour to see how it is doing.  Get the package of mixed vegetables and rib pieces out of the freezer.  Those will go in next.  Take this bowl and cut the rib pieces in half and put them in the bowl.  (I did not do this step right away since I was going to let the ribs defrost a bit before trying to cut them in half.  She did not like that either.)

When we had gotten this far, the home health aide came.  Break in action while she took mom's vitals and talked to her about trying to control her blood sugars and getting in touch with her primary doctor to see what her suggestions would be.  Mom wasn't happy.  She is resistant to taking meds and believes she can control her diabetes with diet and exercise.  Maybe 10 years ago that was possible but not anymore.  Also, she feels the nurse talks to me and not her but every time the nurse does address her mom looks at me because she can't hear.  (sigh) 

By this time the rib pieces were defrosted so I cut them in half and put them in the bowl.  We checked on the dish in the oven and the potatoes had definitely gotten brown ("They're burning, turn the oven off and put the rib pieces on and then the mixed vegetables and more olive oil so they don't burn anymore.  They will cook as the oven cools down.")

Occupational therapist came next and showed her how to use the walker and gave her a talk about getting a shower chair for the bathroom and exercises to strengthen her arms.  She didn't mind that too much and he is going to order a shower chair for her, which will be very helpful as she has a tub shower.

Finally it was time to portion the meal into containers that she could freeze.  More instructions...

Take the tops off these four containers and put them on top of the toaster so they are out of the way.  I started to divide the pan into quarters but she said, "You don't have to worry about making it even, just spoon it into the dishes."  Apparently I don't know how to spoon very well because after I filled the first dish she took the spoon away from me and said, "You fill them like this, take a spoonful and put it here, then another spoonful here and another, and another."

By this point I'm afraid I had lost my patience.  I said, "Or I could just do it like this" and proceeded to fill the rest of the containers.  She looked at me with a defeated expression and said, "Yes, I guess so, it's only food, do it however you want" and shuffled her walker out of the kitchen.

Of course then I felt bad.  Would it have hurt to spoon it the way she wanted?  Obviously I am very glad that I still have my mom at age 95 (if I say she is 96 she gets offended since she still has a few weeks to go).  I know there are many people out there who would love to still have their moms.  My younger sister is moving back to California in a few months and is getting a house big enough so that mom can move in with her.  I know I will miss her since she will be living over an hour away.

Mom at 90 walking across the Golden Gate Bridge for my 60th birthday - She had rented the walker "just in case" but didn't really need it.  

On a bus trip to the casino for some gambling fun

Hope that God will give me the strength to accept any more "instructions" that my mom wants to give while she still can.  (Also am telling my kids that if I ever get so detailed with my instructions to them, they have the right to say "okay gramma" and I'll try to stop - LOL).

So that's my stream.  Have you gotten specific instructions about something from your mom or dad?



  1. This is a great story that you shared and don’t feel bad about getting “short” with your mom. Yes, you are lucky to have her around still but that doesn’t mean you are not human. I can understand since I bought my home so my mom could live here and it was tough at times (before she developed vascular dementia). I miss my mom very much but not the times she drove me I bet your mom is feeling very frustrated right now since she has to take things slow now and can’t drive, which my mom hated when her license was taken away( due to macular degeneration). My mom would not only give me instructions, but, regarding cooking, she would literally bump me out of the way and take over and then complain to other people that I would let her do the cooking...grerrr. Other times she would just say I did things wrong when it was more that she didn’t like the way it was done, for example, she liked crispy cookies not “gooey”.

    1. Yes! I truly have a lot to be thankful for because my mom took care of all three of our children while we worked and we hardly ever paid her. I keep reminding her of that when she starts thanking me for the things I'm doing for her now.

  2. You are definitely fortunate to still have your Mum around and clearly with all her faculties even if she is becoming frailer. It will be a wrench for you when she's not so close but at least you will know she will be safe although probably still giving out instructions!

    1. True. Now my sister can get her life lessons.


I'd love to hear your thoughts!