Every so often, the younger of Annie’s church lady friends decides to bring together the elderly women of the group at the home of one of the other church ladies, to keep everyone socializing. A short time ago it was Annie’s turn to host such a luncheon. With Annie no longer up to preparing a luncheon, the younger of the churchwomen provide the food. It is then understood that Annie will provide the dishes, napkins, and beverages. In addition, we caregivers are notified of the details of the luncheon, so we can help on Annie’s end. As you can imagine, we hear from Annie once or twice everyday about the upcoming event and what needs to be prepared. And, as time has passed, we have learned that our involvement keeps Annie’s dithering to a minimum, so she can enjoy the event.
Looking back at the first of these luncheons, I can remember all too clearly the many times in the three or so days prior being called about how she couldn’t find her old tea kettle (which got tossed long ago, given the handle had fallen off), followed by a traumatic call about needing to find her large table cloths, when all the cloths were either used for rags given the holes in them, or were given away with the hold table she stopped using when she had to downsize to move into the lower level when we came to care for her. With each request Annie’s voice increased in volume and tone, which indicated that her stress level was going through the roof.
Now, given we are experienced in these matters, we how know to keep reminding Annie to please not worry, that we will deliver everything to her the morning of the luncheon, with “everything” meaning her good dishes and silver items, which now live upstairs in her mother’s former china cabinet, pretty paper napkins that match the colours of the dishes, new sugar and cream, just in case she decides to use napkins from her supply on the sideboard, which might be clean or not, given Annie’s steadfast resolve to waste nothing that is not fully and completely soiled. While I know we’ve gone far too far the other way, if she’s going to reuse paper napkins, she’ll have to use them for her own purposes and not inflict them on her guests. (Oops, I digress.)
I am happy to report that now that we are in the know that when Annie prepares to entertain downstairs, her Robbie and I had best jump on the bandwagon and serve as the catering service of all things except the food itself. In that way, the planning goes smoothly; with us blocking off the time we need to ensure everything goes smoothly for all concerned. And, given Annie’s failing eyesight and need to save water, we’ve added to our services the removal of the soiled items to our upstairs kitchen to clean said items and place them back into their safe places in the china cabinet. In this way we know these dishes will truly be clean, and we lessen the chance of these old and precious dishes (from Annie’s perspective) becoming cracked and broken.
Something we have learned, over the years of family caregiving, is that we need to strike a balance between respecting Annie’s ability to do things for herself, and saving her the shame of admitting she can’t do them and having to ask for help, and even worse doing things herself and then destroying something she holds to near and dear to her.
Yours in caregiving,
Photo courtesy of Pixaby