Help Aging Parents: A 98-year-old Teaches Us About Them and About Us–2

Continued from Saturday…

Eating. As we study the menu R decides on a cup of soup and fish and chips, telling me how much she loves soup and about the 2 delicious new soups (lentil w/ vegetables and chicken, vegetables et al.) she found at Trader Joe’s. She always keeps soup on hand,  because–like perhaps all older people–she likes it, it’s nutritious, and it’s  easy to prepare and clean up after. It’s also comforting in winter. I know, in his later years, Dad loved soup. It was often his lunch. My bet is, R and Dad are not alone when is comes to enjoying a tasty bowl of soup.

Treating yourself. Ordering fish and chips, which are of course salted and fried, produces the “don’t abuse myself” saying from my previous post. R eats “simply” at home, she reiterates, but treats herself when she’s out. The fish and chips are a treat A discussion of salt follows.

Using common sense. R has been careful about salt intake for decades–long before it was popular. In her 50’s she realized her ankles were swelling and she decided to cut down on the salt which, it turns out, eliminated the swelling. “No doctor ever told me to cut down,” she says,”it was just common sense….I always say Take Care of Yourself or You Can’t Take Care of Anything Else.” (And you’ll end up needing to have someone take care of you.)

Money. As we order lunch and note the price of the lunch specials, the rising cost of food and the value of food coupons surfaces. R saves coupons, knowing she’ll then have additional monies for other things. She still takes care of her finances. It’s a responsibility that keeps her mind sharp. She volunteered a few years ago that when it became too much, she’d ask her son to take over. But so far, no request. R strongly feels that when you give in and give up things because they become difficult, you begin to lose some control and that can snowball.

Relationships. Don’t “us girls” usually end up talking about people when we’re out having lunch together? Well, we did and I learned R coined a new saying she has shared with her countless younger-than-we-are friends who discuss their family problems (especially in-laws who are, it turns out, aging parents). You can think anything you want, just don’t say it.” R elaborates: think whatever you want, as much as you want (it’s a relief to voice it to yourself), just keep it to yourself and it won’t ever cause problems…and may even help you work out some problems.

R has concluded, based on her 98 years on this earth: Life is good, it’s the people that mess it up.”  

Dependable pleasure. As the world seems to be changing so rapidly with bad news and more unpredictability than she’s ever known, R takes heart in the fact: “There are 3 things today we can count on”: Animals, Music, and Flowers.” Lunch ends. We walk back to the car surrounded by the gorgeous flowers.  

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