My mother and I spent an hour looking at each other yesterday, with occasional brief conversation about how beautiful her floral arrangements were and who is that strange man in the picture on her dresser (her husband), but really there was absolutely nothing to talk about. She wants to know what I'm doing that's exciting and, in truth there is nothing on my calendar this week, so I had nothing to tell her.
I'm going to have to get better about making up exciting stories for her, though I did tell her that I have an upcoming radio interview about the summer season in Sacramento and her response to that was "Oh? Aren't those flowers beautiful?"
I would have suggested that we go for a walk in the garden or something but (a) it was hot out and (b) she was barefoot, so I figured that could be a suggestion for a later, cooler date.
But actually, I am encouraged to see that the move to memory care seems to have been good for her. With increased contact by the staff, she can't just lie in her bed all day any more and that seems to be a good thing. She's not exactly a social butterfly, but I she does seem brighter these days.
Her laundry hamper is still missing. They told me to label it (it's rather unique looking so I'm not sure why it needs to be labeled), but by the time I got back with a Sharpie, it had disappeared and I have not seen it since. But I also didn't see any dirty laundry lying around.
When I left her, I met with Jen, who is in charge of memory care (technically it's called "life guidance," which seems a strange euphemism). She actually acknowledged having received my email (be still my heart) and she asked me if I had been given a copy of the assessment on my mother done by "the other side" before she moved in (no). She gave me a copy which I read before seeing my mother. I had a few question about it, so we met after my visit and I found her delightfully forthcoming. She also gave me the web address for a SurveyMonkey questionnaire about my mother's background and her likes and dislikes. Presumably this will help them set up some sort of a program for her.
But my big question was about laundry and she told me that the staff does the laundry, so I'm off the hook after 4 years. I am not sad about that.
I let her know where I have put her supply of Depends and pee pads and mentioned the odd places where I'd found the used ones in her old apartment when we were cleaning up (the oven?). Jen said she found them stuffed between the mattresses in her new place.
The other interesting thing was that in her old apartment she had necklaces that she laid out on her dresser and kept fiddling with them to make sure they were in a straight line. When I decided to take her jewelry box home to prevent pilferage, I left a small box and a few things in it and I noticed that box is now opened and two more necklaces are now laid out on top of the dresser. She doesn't wear them, she just arranges them. I wish I knew what that was about.
In the evening, I fixed our last Blue Apron meal. The chicken had been sitting in the freezer for several weeks, since it arrived when Caroline was here and there was not enough for three. The recipe was for "chicken under a brick" and was apparently an old Italian way of cooking chicken to retain all the juices. For the "brick," they had me use a pot of water that I periodically pressed down on the chicken as it cooked (foil was over the chicken).
I found the end result, for this last of the Blue Apron meals, very disappointing. Though I cooked it the minimum amount suggested, the skin burned and the flesh was very dry.
This compared to Home Chef, which I am loving because the recipes aren't as complicated and they have ingredients you can actually go out and buy for yourself, if you want to recreate the meal. And so far everything has been very good. I'm glad I made the switch.
After dinner, we watched two documentaries which I am going to suggest people check out, if you have not already. One was Carl Reiner's "If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast." The 95 year old Reiner gathered a bunch of nonagenarians and centenarians to show how it is possible to stay active and engaged long after retirement.
The show is delightful, inspiring and depressing all at the same time. Depressing because these are people without memory impairment and, in fact, they do discuss that all this is possible if you do not have memory impairment. But he interviewed the likes of Dick VanDyke (still dancing at 90), Betty White (95), Mel Brooks (91), Norman Lear (91), a woman who is running marathons at 100 and many other people who are living happy, productive lives into their 90s and see their involvement in activities that they love as one of the reasons they are still around.
It's such a fun show and you marvel at what these people are doing with their lives.