Day four of my live-in caretaking dawned dreary and grey, a stay-at-home kind of day. Bitterly cold out, I just didn’t want to subject Dad to that discomfort. He slept late, ate a light brunch, and readied himself for a visit from a long-time friend from out of town. Dad and Bud talked about everything, his wife whose health is slowly failing, whether the Cubs would play their usual undistinguished season, how much Dad loves his Bronx Bombers. When the time came to say goodbye, both of these sweet old men wiped tears from their eyes as they hugged. They never saw me wiping mine away.
Shortly after Bud left, another visitor arrived. Mom’s best friend of many years, she came to say goodbye before leaving on a trip, but stayed to help me de-clutter the kitchen and clean things up for the open house on Saturday. In every room, we discovered more bottles of pills, many of which had been Mom’s before she died a year-and-a-half ago. Dad had never disposed of them. I added everything to the several large bags already waiting for disposal. By the time we finished, the place looked just as it did before Mom died. She would have been proud.
Meanwhile, while we were cleaning house….
Always a voracious reader, Dad spent some time going through his many books to decide what to take with him to his new home and what to leave behind. He won’t have much room, so he is having a hard time making choices. He tires easily, and since we had been invited to dinner with friends, he needed to take a nap. While he slept, I caught up on work and correspondence until it was time to get ready for dinner.
Our chariot arrived at 5:15 sharp to take us to his “last supper” with our friends, with whom we once a month enjoy good food, good friends, and good conversation. Dinner was an amazing feast in several courses, including a luscious chocolate mocha cake for dessert. I was glad to see Dad eating, since that has been an issue with him. We reminisced, shared stories, and Dad described his new digs, based on the pictures we’ve seen, his daughter’s description, and what he remembers from growing up there so long ago. The evening was a delight and he hated to call it a night, but his face showed his exhaustion. We were home by 9:30.
After making sure he had taken his pills and put in his eye drops , I tucked Dad into bed. Referring to my open house checklist, I saw that we had everything we needed to finish preparations for the open house. Because Mom often hosted dinners for up to 30 people, there are closets filled to the brim with serving ware—every bowl, platter or dish anyone would ever need or want for any specific food item and then some. An olive dish, a celery dish, a chip and dip combo, a sweet pickle dish (I never knew there was such a thing!, assorted colorful ceramic bowls, teabag holders, handmade pottery, beautiful crystal, and of course, delicate decanters and glassware for a crowd. I chose several dishwasher-safe bowls and plates, but opted for paper plates, cups and utensils for the open house. By the time I’d checked off everything on my list, I was ready for a good sleep that I never got.
I lay awake for an hour and then got up and rummaged through the kitchen cupboards for something to bake. Aha! Ghirardelli brownie mix. Oh-oh…. Expired 11-13. How bad could it be? You add a little vanilla, a drop of rum extract, a few drops of almond extract and a handful of Ghirardelli chocolate morsels and voilá. While the brownies baked, I cut up veggies for the hummus, washed the strawberries, made the fruit salad, and arranged cookies on trays. Covering everything with plastic wrap, I put the fruit and veggies in the fridge and set the others out on the table. Finally around 4:30, I fell asleep for a couple of hours.
When the phone rang at 7am, I had already made coffee and started my day. Dad slept peacefully until around 10.