Supper With Mom And Dad
Supper With Mom And Dad by Chuck RitenouR
Supper With Mom And Dad by Chuck RitenouR
My parents are in the final chapters of their lives. As of this writing, my mother is 79 years old and spends most of her time in a huge blue "lazy boy" chair napping. She uses a walker to putter around the house and also uses a wheel chair. She suffered a four month period of illness this spring and summer that had her confined in a nursing facility where she could get around the clock care. While she was there, my father visited her every morning around 10 o'clock and stayed til just passed noon when she took her nap. He returned every afternoon around 4 o'clock and stayed with her until she went to bed around eight every evening.
Dad is 83 years old.Considering his age, he is in pretty good health. He has managed to maintain a "happy go lucky" attitude though it bothers him that he isn't capable of doing the things like he once was. Dad has an aneurysm in the aorta that runs down his chest. A World War II veteran, Dad gets very good medical care at the Veteran's Medical Center which is close. Over the last 58 years, Mom has done most of the cooking. When Dad retired, he prepared simple meals for them while Mom worked towards retirement for a government contractor.
I moved back home on a part time basis two years ago after my third marriage went up in flames. They convinced me that the time would come when they'd need my help. They put my name on all their accounts. They had deeded the house to my brother, sister and myself five years earlier. The first year, I came and went as I pleased and there was no big challenges. Then, things began to change. While my mother was in Lynn Care Center, I became the head of the family. I started monitoring their accounts and paying all the bills. I also became the family chef.
I have always loved to cook. I cooked my first family meal when I was 10 years old. In my first and second marriage, I did most of the cooking when I was not on the road playing music. So, it was a natural fit that I should take over most of the cooking. During the summer, I would grill about 5 pounds of different meats which Dad and I would simply microwave to reheat and could eat whenever we were hungry. The grilled meat would last the two of us four or five days. I work at a warehouse on the grave-yard shift 11PM to 7AM. Dad always fixed breakfast when I got home. He is pretty handy with bacon or sausage, eggs and coffee and can be counted on for an occasional side of home fries.
Now that Mom is home, things have changed just a bit. Dad still fixes breakfast for himself and Mom. He makes certain she takes all of her meds and her insulin. He also fixes lunch which is usually left-overs from the previous day's supper. I sleep until about 4 in the afternoon. I get up and begin to fix our supper. This is a typical example of how it goes.
I got up a bit early today and went to the grocery store. I bought a small ham. I had intended to put it in the electric cooker on 350 for about 2 hours and add potatoes and fresh brussel sprouts. When I got home, Mom was sleeping in the big blue chair. She woke as I walked passed her to the kitchen. She asked what I was planning for supper. Before I could answer, she said, "I'd like fried salmon cakes." I told her I bought a small ham. She said, "I hope you didn't buy the butt!" I assured her I didn't. Then she said, "I'd like some green beans with the salmon cakes, boiled potatoes and how about some biscuits."
I put the ham in the refrigerator and opened two cans of salmon. Dad doesn't like fresh salmon, but loves the cakes made from canned salmon. I use crushed crab flavored potato chips for the filler and they love them. I put nine small red potatoes on to boil and opened a couple of cans of green beans. When everything was about finished, I put the biscuits in the oven. Twenty minutes later, supper was on the table.
Mom scooted herself to the table in her wheel chair and checked her glucose level while I set the table. I had made eight salmon cakes. Mom said,"Goodness, I swear. Chuck, you cook like you're feeding an army." I reminded her that salmon cakes were on tomorrow's lunch menu. We were all sitting at the table and Dad asked Mom if she had taken her insulin. "No, damn it, I didn't, Everett. Chuck jump up and get my insulin for me" she replied. In ten minutes, we were back to trying to eat. Mom said, "give me one of the smaller salmon cakes." I put one on her plate. "And one of them biscuits" I passed her the plate of biscuits. Then I passed her the green beans while Dad put a potato on her plate. "Damn it, Everett! I don't want one that damned big. I'll never be able to finish it!" she exclaimed.
I had yet to have one bite of my supper. Dad was nearly finished. Dad said, "Alene, do you want some butter for your biscuit?" "No, damn it, Everett if I wanted butter, I'd have asked for it." About sixty seconds later she said, "Chuck pass me the butter, I want some for my biscuit" My dad rolled his eyes and tried to suppressed his laughter. "Go to hell,Everett", she said. Dad laughted out loud.
I finished eating. Mom cleaned her plate and said,"I'd like half of one of those fish cakes, another small potato, a spoon of green beans and half a biscuit." I put the fish cake and potato on her plate while Dad got her a spoon of green beans. I passed her the plate of biscuits and she took one off the plate. She cut the biscuit in half. Dad and I sat there watching as she buttered both halfs. We sat there watching as she once again cleaned her plate.
Dad winked at me and said," Alene would you like a half of a biscuit?" She looked at him for a moment. I thought there was going to be hell to pay, "Yes, I think I would, Honey".she cooed. "Butter?" he asked. "Yes, thank you" she replied smiling at him. Dad cut a biscuit and carefully buttered half of it and handed it to Mom. When she finished, she said, "Could I have that other half of salmon cake?" I put it on her plate. After she ate the last morsel of fish, she said, "that was good." Supper was officially over.
I have come to realize supper with Mom and Dad is still very, very special.