I mentioned in an earlier story that Mrs. E loved strawberry cake. She also loved my chocolate chip cookies. There weren’t too many sweets she didn’t like. Many mornings I stopped on my way to her house and got a bag of those mini chocolate covered, yellow cake donuts. I liked them too.
My friend Pat told me about a recipe for mug cake that you cook in the microwave. It is a quick and easy way to make a single serving of virtually any kind of cake you want. I couldn’t wait to make one for Mrs. E. I was sure she would really get a kick out of it.
When I got to her house, I told her I was going to make her strawberry cake. Later, when she was ready for her snack, I made the cake in a cup. She looked slightly confused, but she ate the cake. A couple of hours later she said, ” Now…where is that strawberry cake you were going to make for me?” I tried to explain, but it fell on deaf ears. She was not interested in a little cup of cake. I can identify. If I can’t have a big piece of cake or pie, I would rather not have any.
I started my duties on November 3rd, and around the second week of December, I was feeling like we were doing okay. We had some difficult days, but we worked through them. Mrs. E’s daughter is one of the most caring and genuine people I have ever known, but sometimes her mother tried her patience. One day, I was doing something in the back of the house, and I could hear Mrs. E talking to her daughter about Christmas. She said, “I think we should give that girl something nice for Christmas, because she’s the only one we haven’t quarreled with.” I knew she was talking about me, because she always referred to me as “that girl.” She never called anyone by name except for immediate family. I don’t know if that was a part of her memory affected by the stroke, or just that she didn’t want to be bothered with remembering names. In 4 years, I never heard her say my name. I also knew that saying I was the only one she hadn’t quarreled with, was as good a compliment as I was ever going to get.
Mrs. E had a neighbor that would come and visit once in a while. She would bring a plant, or something she had made. She was also on the list of emergency contacts for the lifeline company. In one of her visits, the neighbor lady had mentioned how old she was. After she left, I told Mrs. E that I was surprised, because I thought she looked much younger. Mrs. E said, “Sometimes you just can’t tell. I’m 85 and I look a whole lot younger.” She thought for a minute before she added, “I look about 60.” She meant it too. Of course I said I totally agreed. My new younger sister.
One morning the phone rang. The person on the line asked to speak to Mrs. E. . I screened her calls, but the caller said they were with the lifeline company. They called every now and then and asked her to push the button on her pendant, just to make sure everything worked. This day, I could tell right away the call was not about a test. I could only hear Mrs. E’s side of the conversation, and I had never heard her sound so contrite. She was apologizing and saying she would never do it again. When she handed the phone back to me, she didn’t look me in the eye. I asked her what that was all about. She said she had gotten into trouble. She had awakened at 2:00 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. She wanted someone to come and help her get dressed and out of bed. Her daughter lived right across the street and normally Mrs. E would call her in this kind of situation. Instead, she pushed the lifeline button and when they called her, she gave them instructions not to call her daughter’s house. She told them to call her neighbor. Apparently, the neighbor wasn’t too happy to get the phone call. She knew Mrs. E was just trying to avoid getting a reprimand from her daughter. The company called Mrs. E’s daughter, who was not happy about her Mother’s sneaky plan. The lifeline company wanted to make sure Mrs, E was clear on what constituted an emergency.
Mrs E was capable of getting out of bed and into her wheelchair, by use of the pole, but we cautioned her not to. I think she realized it was better to be extra cautious and not tempt fate. That was a good thing.
I don’t know if you have ever been to an older person’s home and seen photographs taped up on the walls. Mrs. E had her wall of fame. She loved to get greeting cards, especially if they had pictures of animals on them. They were taped to the wall, along with the family photos. My Great Aunt Grace did the same thing. My Mother had my son’s Senior picture taped up on her wall, and had ribbon and other decorative things hanging around it. I always thought it looked like a shrine of sorts. I never said anything to Mom, but I did kid Mason about it. He was her first grandchild, so I guess that’s why he was so honored.
I tried to copy a link to a short recording. It’s of my mom and I singing “In the Garden.” We sang it together the last time I was with her. She loved that song. She even called me at work one day and sang it on my voice mail. I played it for my co-workers who thought it was the neatest thing for my Mom to do.
On the occasion of our duet, My brother Billy had taken Gus for a guy’s week-end in Los Vegas. He deserved a little time for fun. Gus was so very wonderful to our Mother.
Mom and I watched 5 hours of Public television that night. The music ranged from Big Band Sounds to Elvis Presley. If we even knew a few words to a song, we sang along.
That day was made even more special because cousin Valerie and her daughter Caitlin drove 7 hours, one way, to see us that day. We went to Marie Callenders for lunch and had a great time before they had to make the return trip home.
I hope you can open the recording. It looks like it copied twice, or not at all. I also want to wish everyone a safe and fun holiday week-end.