Miss Cathy’s project d’jour was cleaning all the pieces in the china cabinet. I was happy to see that she was doing something other than sitting in the living room watching television (not that there’s anything wrong with that-I too continue to clock way too many hours staring into “the box”). She said she thinks it’s been at least two or maybe three years since she’s taken out all the dishes, crystal stemware and choctchkes and washed each by hand. It’s a big commitment of time and energy, delicately removing each piece and not breaking it or any of the other items that are stuffed onto the shelves.
The dining room in the apartment is rarely used, except by me to work (sometimes). I don’t remember the last time anyone actually had a meal in there. It’s not a large space and unfortunately it’s made even more uninviting by the huge “Mediterranean” style dining room “suite” that Miss Cathy brought here from one of her previous marriages. The furniture is too large for the room (I think it was designed with a Medieval Spanish Castle in mind), several of the chairs are in need of repair (meaning broken) and I was beside myself with joy when Miss Cathy suggested that I get rid of two of them not too long ago.
I took to the task of breaking down the chairs with gusto, in my mind they were just two more things standing in the way of this becoming a “livable” space instead of the stuffed animal “way-station” filled with chairs that were either uncomfortable, broken or occupied by her collection. Since the chairs were so old and wobbly (not unlike our matriarch come to think of it), it was very easy to pull them apart (I know what you’re thinking……..but, no, I NEVER think of “pulling Miss Cathy apart”). After my remark about “understanding” elder abuse I feel a need to include disclaimers ever so often lest social services may be reading “in” or someone feels the need to mistake my sense of humor for a confession of condoning or participating in aberrant behavior. All rightly then, now that that’s out of the way………..
In no time at all I had the pieces tied into two bundles ready for the trash. Unfortunately they couldn’t be recycled or used as kindling because they were made of some kind of wood composite or man-made, factory turned material. I think if you put a match to them you would asphyxiate from the smoke rising off the plastic.
So, happy that she was occupied with an activity I was off to “the city” to have lunch in downtown DC with three friends from Philadelphia who were down for the day to visit the National Portrait Gallery (and to see me, of course). We had a great time at lunch and seeing friends had the usual effect of working like a ‘tonic’ on me-I drove home energized and refreshed.
Before we walked to the restaurant from the museum where I met them I had the chance to talk to one of my friends alone about Miss Cathy. Cassandra has been taking care of her mother for years now so I was happy to have some time to compare notes and ask her advice. Our mothers do not suffer from all the same illnesses but they do have diabetes in common. No matter the particulars, if only for the benefit of being able to sit across from and vent to someone who ‘gets it”. Besides, I think there’s always something to be gained from talking to a “fellow” traveler who walks down the path of care giving.
I listened to some of her “war” stories then I shared some of mine. Then we got on the topic of “picking our battles”, we were talking about the fact that both our mothers are diabetic but love sweets, we sounded like two parents with little children feeling guilty because we’re the ones doing the shopping and have control over buying the foods they consume but find it difficult/exasperating/hard to say “no” to their requests sometimes.
Cassandra told me that what she does (on top of rationing her mom’s sugar intake-and picking her battles) is to give her mother a baked sweet potato loaded with Cinnamon, it not only satisfies her cravings for dessert it’s healthy food that can be easily digested and it helps psychologically because one doesn’t feel deprived.
I thought that was a brilliant idea and now I can’t wait to try it out on Miss Cathy, who knows, maybe I’ll serve it to here in the dining room on one of her china plates now that they’re sparkling clean.