I’ve mentioned the schedule Mom lived by several times. When we were little everything thing ran on schedule. That schedule continued through Daddy’s Alzheimer’s and probably helped Mom care for Daddy during that time.That schedule is what we used to gauge Mom’s ability to care for herself as she got older. As long as she was getting up, fixing and eating meals, and going to bed at a regular time, all was good. Or so we thought…
What we weren’t seeing were the little changes. She typically had cereal for breakfast with reconstituted nonfat dry milk. On Sundays, she would have an egg on toast. Lunches varied (years ago) depending on what she had and wanted to use up. She might have a sandwich or she might have some leftovers. Dinners were small servings of chicken or beef with a vegetable and either bread or potato. Although Mom never was one to use spices, she always served well rounded farm meals and she continued that practice in her little kitchen after moving to my brother’s.Breakfast stayed much the same over the years. She continued to eat cereal and milk but at some point started heating the milk up a bit because it was “too cold”. That was fine until my brother had to replace his microwave in the few months that she lived there. She no longer had the ability to learn how to use it.
Lunch became very regimented. She would have a slice of lunchmeat and a slice of cheese on two slices of bread. She placed the sandwich in a half sheet of paper towel and put it in the microwave it to warm it – until the new microwave came along.Dinner was the most interesting change. Instead of a little plate with separate foods, she began creating little casseroles. She was so proud of them! Actually, she would break up a piece of bread in a little plastic container and add other things on top. Sometimes it was leftovers from my brother’s meals – he didn’t dare throw any food away! Sometimes it was a portion of a can of stew or soap. When she first started this habit she would also put some vegetables in the mix but over time that changed. Her dinners actually became more starch than anything else. Her little creations were put in the microwave for warming – until the new microwave came along.
Once the new microwave came along, my brother was able to help with the use of it in various ways so that she was able to get her meals. It wasn’t long after it came along that I started making the trip up to be with Mom during the day and learned firsthand what her meals had become.As I look back, I realize that Mom was probably malnourished but we didn’t know it. The story continues next time with how the story of food as a sign continued after she moved in with me.