The need for companionship

First of all, it’s my 200th post! Thanks to everyone who has followed the ups and downs of my strange journey this year, as I explore my father’s death and legacy and now my mom’s serious illness and brush with death.

Mom was finishing up lunch today when I came to visit her at the nursing home. She ate everything but the main dish, which was veal. That’s not something she ever ate at home, so I can’t blame her for skipping it. It seems that in the hospital and now in the nursing home, the menus are very meat-centric. I wonder when my generation (and the future generations) get old if the nursing homes and hospitals will be forced to serve up healthier food, vegetarian options, etc. I guess they are going for comfort food that will be appealing to the masses but all of it ends up looking like mystery meat to me.

It’s also sad to see so much food wasted at these places, when there’s obviously people starving all over the world.

Now Dad was quite different when he lived at the nursing home. Up until the last few months of his life, when he lost the ability to swallow, he would clear his plate every time. The nurses would joke about not being able to keep him filled up. I’m sure he would have wolfed down Mom’s veal cutlet!

There’s also another major difference between Mom and Dad. With Dad’s dementia, he withdrew more and more. He would be brought into the dining room to eat, but would do so alone at a table, not talking to anyone. Dad was a bit of a loner before the dementia but he had that Irish charm and could strike up a conversation with a stranger quite easily. I’ll never know if he suffered at mealtime, or if he was content in his own little world.

Mom, on the other hand, is a social butterfly. She’s already been adopted by the others into the “dining room family,” as Peggy, another resident explained. This nursing home “mafia” collects any salt and pepper packets not used and puts them in a community tin. So I guess I know where to go if I run out of salt and pepper!

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