I get there about 4.30, timed to check out the supper offerings. Lunch the day before was pretty dismal, and i am wondering if the care home is sliding back again, or if they have lost a good cook?
Anyway, when i get in, he is still in bed from his afternoon nap, very comfy, and is confused when I turn on the light and announce supper etc, all, to be sure, introduced only gently and slowly.
He focuses on me, blinking, and says, “Are you here now?”
“Yes,” i say, “I come every day because I love you.”
I don’t add, because it is way beyond his comprehension or need-to-know, that i have to come, because I don’t trust the care home to look after his more subtle needs.
Yah, real real subtle like, for example, cleaning during outbreaks, or undiagnosed pneumonia– yep i am still deeply pissed and in uber-protective mode.
This defenseless person, my former partner, has aroused all my motherly ferocity. I hate the way I cannot move on with my increasingly short life, but obligations rule, and obligations to innocents rule most.
“So,” he slowly says, breaking my heart, still not sure where or why we are here, “Are you here to stay now?”
“Oh yes,” I lie, sobbing silently deep in my soul, where no one knows, just one more heart-breaking therapeutic fib among so many, “I am here to stay.”
Jeez, he has lost so much language, how did he pull that together?
I am stunned but muster another (probably sickly) loving smile and say, “Well, um, no, not All night, i think not.”
He castes an eye around the barren room and the bed he is so comfortably tucked up in, with no room for two, and agrees, Ok.
Eventually a great care aide and I coax him down the threatening hall (which he has clearly never seen before and holds all sorts of dangers he says he would rather not face) we coax him down and into his chair in the eating room.
He devours coffee and cranberry juice, offering me some politely from time to time. But he is just as glad I refuse.
Then as we wait, he starts in on the table, using spoons to saw at the napkin, “Milk,” he pronounces. Then, when my head is turned for a second, the fork successfully gauges some shreds of napkin.
I grab them before they get to their mouthy destination. Despite confusion, he doesn’t protest, and i remember how he used to say, fondly, when he didn’t understand, “Crazy woman.”
Supper finally arrives, but the aide realises the meat needs to be cut up, and carries it away again. “Hey!” he shouts.
When it comes back, the meat is nicely chopped, but the delicious baked potatoes and the (amazing!) perfectly cooked broccoli and cauliflower are in huge chunks.
As an overloaded spoon heads to his mouth, or the floor, i hastily cut up the rest into manageable chunks.
I can then leave him with a kiss, engrossed in his meal, and humming as he eats.
But the thing is, he can indeed eat this good soft and actually tasty food, but he has no sense of size or how to make the pieces small enough to eat. Or how much fits on a spoon, or in his mouth.
Is it unreasonable to expect a care home to know a resident likes “real,” albeit soft, food, but needs that food cut into spoon size pieces? I would and did do that for him at home 4 years ago, as you would for any young one, which in some ways he now is.
I fear, rather than 2 minutes of staff time to cut the food smaller, the alternative might be the ghastly minced food we just got him off a few months ago.
It is a marvel that he still continues to want to eat. The minced food is not an encouragement.