My parents really do get their meals at the assisted living facility. It’s all provided for them. They just have to walk down to the dining room and sit down. No cooking, no cleaning. It was one of the ways we talked them into moving. Now they don’t have to order pizza every night.
Dad called yesterday and let me know he really, REALLY needed to go to the store. They needed a lot of things. Now, Dad’s pretty together mentally, but he can get a little weird about food. It’s not just getting old thing, either. I remember cleaning the kitchen once when I was just out of high school and my parents were out of town. I found 13 jars of peanut butter, each with just a little bit left. Heaven forbid anyone would throw out good food. Heaven help me –I threw them all out or at least 12 of them.
At the store, Dad handed me a long list. The list included contraband such as Mylanta, Advil, Mucinex, Tylenol, and laxatives. Fortunately, he doesn’t remember what’s on the list and he trusts me to tell him. The list also included microwave dinners, bread, lunch meat, cereal, milk, and hamburger buns. I managed to talk him out of some of this by reminding him he already had enough cereal in the apartment to last him six months and the freezer was already full to bursting. He still managed to pack the grocery cart.
Walking down one aisle, a very short woman asked if I would reach up and get something off the shelf for her. I did and we chatted for a couple of minutes. When I turned back, Dad was gone. Even in the electric cart, I knew he couldn’t go far. I finally found him in the candy aisle. In the basket were three extra large Hershey bars, two bags of mini Hershey bars, and one bag of regular sized Hershey bars and a 3-lb. bag of Lifesavers.
He wouldn’t budge on these. My brother is coming to town for Christmas and Dad wants to make sure there’s plenty of chocolate. I put my foot down when it came to the four boxes of Cocoa Puffs cereal. For some reason, Dad is afraid they’ll run out of my brother’s favorite cereal if he doesn’t stock up. So, for a five-day visit, four boxes of cereal and three gallons of milk are needed to see them through. I also reminded him that my brother has a car and the store wouldn’t run out of food.
We also negotiated on the frozen dinners. When do they eat in the apartment? Well, Dad told me, they wouldn’t be going down for lunch today. Why, I asked, is Mom not feeling well? She’s okay, he told me, just ornery.
Suddenly I realized why we had to go shopping. They didn’t need the food. Dad needed an escape. I tend to gauge my visits with Mom by how much chocolate I eat when I get home. Knowing just what it’s like when Mom gets ornery, I think he needed all that chocolate, too.