When the Good Cook Can’t

Oh, what a year this has been. 

It’s hard for me to believe that a year ago, Momma was still living in her apartment on her own. Things changed rapidly after I wrote the post below. Momma lives with us now, but she still desires these “little sandwiches” over any other food I could possibly prepare for her. 

Facebook Journal Entry – Thursday, September 1, 2016

If you have ever been to a Spring Creek Church potluck fellowship, you probably could recognize my Momma’s dish at the end of the potluck. It was always empty.

Children and grandchildren knew that when it was their birthday, the family dinner would be YOUR favorite dishes and YOUR favorite dessert. And it would be DELICIOUS!
Even her salads were spectacular! Honestly, when you saw her salad bowl arrive at your gathering, you just knew the contents were going to be in a league of their own. When she brought a fruit salad in that bowl, it wasn’t just a cut-up watermelon – it was a mouth-watering jumble of the best fruits you could imagine.
Sadly, Momma’s cooking and baking days are over. It is really sad when the good cook can’t. But the sad truth is:
  • Alzheimer’s stole my mom’s ability to follow a recipe…or to even remember where she keeps her recipes.
  • Alzheimer’s robbed my mom of her ability to figure out how to safely use a stove or a microwave, or remember what goes in the fridge and what needs to be in the freezer.
  • Alzheimer’s prevents mom from remembering what she ate…or IF she ate.
Tonight, and nearly every night, we sat down to a meal that I prepared and Momma held our hands and asked a humble blessing. Now, the fiend called Alzheimer’s causes this formerly articulate woman to have trouble remembering all the words she wants to put into a sentence; but to hear her pray is a thing of beauty and inspiration. God, in his great mercy and kindness, has not allowed Alzheimer’s to steal the ability for Momma to talk to Him. When Momma prays, she doesn’t have trouble putting her thoughts into words. It just flows from her heart. Her prayers are eloquent and at the same time simple and straight to the point. She always remembers to thank God for her blessings and for providing for her every need. She even thanks him for the simple things that might escape our notice – like the beautiful clouds she can watch outside of her window. It warms my heart that my mother often thanks God for the help we give her and asks God to bless us. I love to hear my mother pray.
No matter what Wayne and I choose to fix for dinner, Momma is thankful and says it is delicious. We try to vary the meals, but it really wouldn’t matter to her whether we fixed the same thing every day. If there is an “up-side” to memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s, something I fixed last week – or even a day or two ago and am now serving as leftovers – will have her proclaiming, “This is delicious! I haven’t had this in ages!”
Momma can’t remember she already has a can of soda open.

Momma doesn’t need us there 24/7 yet. We use some security cameras to check in on her during the day (she naps a lot), and stop by as we are able (or when she calls and has a need). Evenings are the hardest time of day for her, so our ministry to her involves spending nearly every evening with her. Wayne and I fix an evening meal for us to enjoy with her every evening (and her granddaughter, Beth brings supper and her family for a visit most Sunday nights). We also try to leave “grab and go” items for her to gnosh on throughout the day. She would live on Coke, potato chips (or potato salad) and ice-cream if we didn’t leave other choices that are easy for her to grab and eat.

Half sandwiches: One for now; one for later

As her primary caregiver, I have made a discovery that works very well for us. I share this for the benefit of those of my friends who also find themselves in the place in life where they are providing care for a loved one. Before I head home for the night, I prepare a sandwich for Mom to “discover” the next day when she is rummaging through the fridge for something to eat. She doesn’t always understand how those sandwiches keep appearing in her fridge, but she thinks they are delicious and she really appreciates them. I have found that it is helpful to cut the sandwich in half and put each half in a fold-over sandwich bag. If I leave the sandwich whole, she rarely finishes the entire sandwich and then may forget to refrigerate the leftovers. When I leave sandwich halves, Mom will usually choose just one half and leave the other half in the fridge (to rediscover later when hunger strikes again).

 Some have wondered aloud as to why I don’t just hire someone to take care of her. I’m sure that day will come. When it does, I am confident God will make it abundantly clear that “it’s time” and He will provide the wisdom and resources to do so. But, for right now, having family lovingly care for my mom is both an honor and a privilege – and I believe it is the right thing to do.
God’s Word tells us that we are to honor our parents. I pray that even the simple act of making a yummy sandwich for my mother will communicate love and honor – and, ultimately, bring glory to my heavenly Father.

Author: barefootlilylady

Wife of one, mother of 2+2, and Grandma of 6 (3 girls and 3 boys!) and full-time caregiver for my sweet Momma with Alzheimer's. Passionate about Jesus, grandkids, Awana Clubs, gardens, quilts and cooking.

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