Stories and thoughts about family and life

Snickers versus Milky Way

on May 16, 2014

My mother keeps reminding me that I’m going to be old someday, and I won’t be in control of my faculties anymore. I pray that I never reach that point, or that I’m at least nice to my children and my grandchildren when it happens.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law have been in a nursing home since November. It’s been a roller coaster of negative behavior, health scares, and just general torture watching this process. I personally have struggled with whether we have made the correct decisions, while my husband and his sister do battle over every issue which arises. It could be as simple as getting the laundry schedule worked out or as complicated as figuring out why my mother-in-law has fallen out of bed twice in as many weeks.
Sometimes the answers are sad. Sometimes a little comical. We remind ourselves to keep our sense of humor as much as possible, but even that sometimes doesn’t help the struggle much. It seems we argue a lot with the parents about food. They want more of it in their room. They take a dislike to whatever is being served, and want to have their own to prepare. The problem with that is that if there are too many options in their room, they simply won’t eat what’s provided to them by the nursing home. Not only is that not good for their diets, it’s a strain on the pocketbook as we are constantly bringing more and more food. They also can’t ration it out, so either Louis is up there several times a week, or we’re listening to them complain because they’re out of food (or a combination of the two).
Anyway, today’s story starts following a “we need groceries” phone call received just before Easter. Louis patiently takes the list and heads for the grocery story. His dad had asked him while he was there to please pick up a Milky Way for Helen. Louis politely declines citing their diet and the things we know they’ve been eating lately. They’ve managed to convince a couple of their visitors that they don’t get to ever have any treats, so these visitors are constantly bringing candy and cookies to them. Because of that, we’ve had to try to cut those things out in other areas. It’s akin to telling your 4 year old he can’t have a cookie before dinner. If you let him have it, he won’t eat his dinner and so on.
Easter Sunday we take them both out for lunch at Olive Garden. On the way back to the nursing home we stop by Kroger and pick up cookies for the nurses who care for them, and the cafeteria staff who prepare their meals (you know, the ones they don’t want to eat!). I drop Louis off at the door at Kroger and he goes into the make our purchase. As soon as Louis gets inside, his dad asks me to call him and ask him to pick up a package of miniature Milky Way candy bars. I explain that Louis likely isn’t going to do that, given all the sweets that are at the nursing home already. He agrees and lets it go.
A few days later Louis is gathering up groceries to take up to them, and as he’s checking out at Kroger, he spots the tray of Milky Way bars near the register. He reflects on how many times we’ve said “no” recently, grabs one and tosses it into the cart. He is pretty pleased at knowing he will have made her happy and done something nice.
As he enters the nursing home, he locates the candy bar so that it’s handy when he walks into the room. As soon as he arrives, he presents her proudly with this Milky Way for which she has waited so long. She looks at him and snaps “I like Snickers!”
And so it goes when you are trying to please an elderly person sometimes.
As I’m relaying this story to one of my dear friends earlier, she muses that Snickers are full of nuts. It occurs to me that this is rather symbolic of this entire situation. Nutty, bumpy, not nearly as easy to navigate as a Milky Way with its creamy, gooey center.
Maybe the universe is sending us a message. . .


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