Mother’s Day is a strange day for me now that Mom is gone. I miss my mother every day, but feel it most keenly on my birthday, Mother’s Day and her birthday. Modern social media reinforces those feelings of loss as my Facebook page fills up with pictures of friends celebrating the day with their families and I know that I’ll never again be able to wish Mom a happy Mother’s Day.
However, I do have Grandma to think about on Mother’s Day. One day is pretty much like the rest for Grandma, but I do make it a point to do something extra special for her on holidays. Today, I cut her toast into the shape of a heart and made a bouquet out of flowers from our yard as a special treat.
This morning, as I was making Grandma her Mother’s Day brunch the doorbell rang. It was a flower delivery person with flowers, a balloon, candy and a card from Brandon and Michi:
I took it in to Grandma, who was still in her room. She said:
“Oooooooh, flowies! Bee-yoo-tee-ful Bee-you-tee-ful!!”
But her eyes really lit up when she spied the candy. Chocolate covered cherries. I told her not to eat too many because I was going to bring her breakfast in shortly.
As I was making breakfast, of course, she ate half the box.
I brought breakfast in to her and let her have breakfast in bed, since it is Mother’s day. As I sat there next to her, she drank her hot cocoa and took her medication, but she didn’t so much as look at her food. After a few minutes, she pushed away her plate, indicating that she was finished. I asked her to please have at least a bite of her breakfast.
She defiantly rolled over as though to go to sleep, not saying anything. This made me mad, so I left the room before I said something I would regret.
It can be really frustrating being a caregiver, but when Grandma so blatantly defies me it feels like a personal attack. I know her defiance is just her asserting her independence, but when it is over something so basic as eating even a bite of a meal I lovingly prepared for her I can’t help but take it personally.
I actually started writing this blog post after leaving the room. I was trying to make sense of my feelings, and it hit me…of course, it’s because of Mother’s Day. My emotions are raw as it is, and the added stress of having Grandma reject the breakfast I made for her was just too much.
My composure regained, I returned to Grandma’s room to try again to get her to eat and she was busily shoveling handfuls of candy into her mouth. I took the candy away and explained, as gently as I could, that I can’t allow her to push away her food only to fill up on candy. I then asked if there was anything else I could make for her that she might eat. She sat there, silently.
I had a conversation with a friend at work last week about this very subject. He’s dealing with some of these issues with his parents as they decline in health. He said “Rob, just let her eat the candy, what does it hurt? At least she’s eating!” While I agree generally, I also feel like it is my responsibility to make sure she’s getting enough nutrition. It’s a tough balance.
In the end, Grandma agreed that she’d eat some oatmeal if I made it for her. I put it down in front of her ten minutes ago and so far she hasn’t touched it. At this point I’m just going to give the candy back to her.
It is Mother’s Day after all.