Published in the Rains County Leader on October 27, 2015:
Last week I began celebrating National Family Caregiver Month a little early by sharing a few stories about the lighter side of both aging and caregiving. Here are a few more.
Grandma decided to put a jigsaw puzzle together, so she grabbed the box and poured the pieces out on the table. After a while, she began to get frustrated and called Grandpa.
“George, can you come in here and give me a hand.”
“Honey, what’s wrong?”
“I’m trying to put this puzzle together, but none of the pieces fit.”
“Well, look at the picture on the box and tell me what it looks like.”
“Okay. The background is blue, and there’s a tiger on it.”
“Right. Now let’s put the cornflakes back in the box.”
Mom was not a fan of jigsaw puzzles, so we never had this problem, but she did have problems with her cereal. I’ve never been one to stand over a hot stove early in the morning, so we usually starts the day with cereal, coffee and maybe fruit. Mom and Dad always woke up later than we did, so I would leave the cereal, bowls, spoons, and sweetener on the table and let them take care of themselves.
This worked out well for a while, but even that simple task soon became too much for Mom. She sometimes forgot to pour milk into her bowl, and I’d find her crunching on really dry cereal or see her scraping her bowl, trying to get the dry sweetener off the bottom. I encouraged Dad to oversee her breakfast preparation, but he was doing well to see to his own meal.
One day I came in to clean up their post-breakfast mess and found fifteen or so empty pink packages lying on the table. She had emptied every package of sweetener into her bowl. I knew then it was time for me to get involved in yet another aspect of her life and help her “put the cornflakes back in the box.”
Returning home from work, the elderly lady was shocked to find her house ransacked and burglarized. She telephoned the police at once and reported the crime. The police dispatcher broadcast the call, and a K-9 unit patrolling nearby was the first to respond. As the officer approached the house with his dog on a leash, the lady ran out on the porch, shuddered at the sight of the cop and his dog, and sat down on the steps. Putting her face in her hands, she burst into tears.
“I come home to find all my possessions stolen. I call the police for help, and what do they do? They send me a BLIND policeman!”
I’ve never experienced a burglary, but Mom and I had a close call when I was in my early teens. Dad worked nights and my older brother Jim was away at college, so Mom and I were often home alone. One night she woke me, saying someone was scratching on the window screen in her bedroom. We clung to each other, staring at the window, and suddenly a shadow passed across the shade. I called Dad, and he called the police. Within minutes a car pull up in front of the house and flashlights criss-crossed the yard as Mesquite’s finest investigated. Then, we heard a knock on the door.
“We didn’t find anything, Ma’am, but we’ll have a car drive by here frequently for the rest of the night.”
When Dad arrived at home the next morning, he found us still huddled together under the covers. He immediately went out to investigate and came back inside laughing.
“I didn’t find any footprints, but I did find some evidence. There were rat droppings on the window sill.”
A young man wanted to do something special for his grandmother, so he decided to take her to a football game. She had never been to one before, but he thought she would enjoy all the noise and excitement. They had great seats on the fifty yard line, and their team won. After the game, he asked how she liked it.
“Oh, it was great,” she said, “especially the tight pants and all the big muscles. But I just don’t understand why they were killing each other over such a trivial thing.”
“What do you mean, Grandma?”
“Well, they flipped a coin, one team got it and then for the rest of the game they kept screaming, ‘Get the quarterback! Get the quarterback!’ I mean, after all, it was only twenty-five cents.”
On Sunday afternoons, you could always find Mom and Dad in front of the TV, rooting for the Cowboys. They thought Roger Staubach hung the moon, and they agreed with Don Meredith that Texas Stadium was built with a hole in the roof so God could watch His team.
A lot of things changed through the years, but until they lost interest in television altogether, they could still be found on Sunday afternoons in front of the TV, rooting for the ‘Boys. They didn’t remember the names of the players, and they fell asleep between touchdowns, but they were always Cowboy fans.