Friday, July 21, 2006

A Busy Day

Bea is chatting in a low voice. Her chatter reminds me of the way Natalie would talk herself to sleep as a child. Bea has been talking this way for two hours now, non-stop. The low, constant hum of words keeps her mind occupied.

Our busy day started at 4 am. Someone shouted “FOOD!” so I got up and made a nice bowl of cream of wheat. Being awakened in the middle of the night is surely one of the more difficult aspects of elderly care, but I cannot hold it against her: Bea has lost her sense of time. “Is this breakfast?” she will ask when I serve lunch.

A parade of people passed by her bedside today. First came Steve, the nimble photographer who snapped multiple shots of Bea devouring a chocolate pudding. Carmen, a health aide, fed Bea chocolate ice cream. Rill, the Chaplain, read a prayer. Melissa, in charge of communications for Hospice and Palliative Care of Cape Cod, must have charmed Bea because she kissed her hand. Finally, Johanna, a reporter from the Cape Cod Times, asked to meet the star of this blog before interviewing me.

Bea loves people. She enjoyed all the company.

I eat dinner by Bea’s bedside. I have omelet with mushrooms. She has mushrooms with omelet.

Later, as I tiptoe up to the bedroom doorway, I hear her reciting a litany of foods she likes and doesn’t like: “And then there are apples, but I don’t like apples …”

I have a moment of panic: if I don’t provide more food, she is going to wake me up again! In the kitchen, I find myself having an Old-Mother-Hubbard moment as I realize how empty my pantry is. I return with a bowl of blueberries. She eats four and says with disappointment, “I guess I don’t like blueberries.”

“How about some yogurt?”

After half a yogurt, Bea again stalls.

Somebody could make a mint producing packaged food for the elderly. If it existed, I would fill my shelves immediately. Small quantities, easy to chew, digestible, tasty, FILLING!!!

“You’re not hungry anymore?” I ask hopefully as I turn out the light.

I cannot see her expression, but am ready to bet she has got that twinkle in her eye.

“Maybe 10 minutes from now I will be hungry…”

As the old saying goes, “When in doubt, knock them out.” I promptly administer a sleeping pill …

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