A Caregiver's Homage To The Very Old

by Jerry Ratch

When you take her grocery shopping

take a list and make her stick to it

as she forgets and duplicates a lot

She is also very generous

and will insist on buying you something


I think she cannot live without fresh flowers

or plants that are blooming. She loves a garden

and has no seasonal sense

About privacy — set limits right away

or you won't pass your exams

You may have to remind her daily for awhile


Fortunately her bedtime is around 7 p.m.

When she visits in the early a.m. I send her home

but then often find her crying


With a little supervision she can make her own coffee

She needs a small fridge to store OJ, milk, ice cream, diet Coke and fruit

especially grapefruit and tomatoes

She loves cookies, candy and bear-claws

and munches a lot

I figure nutrition is not her problem


Her meals consist of one generous tablespoon

of three or four items, especially tomatoes peeled

and cut small, and peeled cucumbers

If she doesn't have a sliver of some meat at noon

she “hasn't eaten”  

Thank God she loves baked potatoes

She will also eat Marie Callender's pot pies

She'll split half with you


Supper she will eat what you do, only small portions

She eats more if she eats with someone

Tapioca pudding and chocolate pudding

watermelon, and cantaloupe are favorite desserts

and if she eats ice cream

she likes a bit of coffee to warm up


Make some excuse, but don't let her loose in your kitchen

She will act furious if you offer to do something for her

She can help chop, or setting table

and at night I sit her down to a glass of wine

that I buy in a big box — White Zin

She occasionally likes a Budweiser


Left alone, she forgets to eat

clean up after herself, change clothes, loses her shoes

and forgets who you are and where she is

She's a loving 4-year-old, and you must say NO and mean it

no mater how much age difference there is

If she says she is lonely, she's probably bored


She likes picture magazines and short, light books

and peruses catalogs. She likes short drives

and will wait in the car if it's not too hot

Wal-Mart is fine if you give her a sundae

and tell her to stay in the food section. Also Costco


She will never nap lying down

but all the time sitting up

Put a thick towel on the seat

She is safe with knives and is very careful of steps

if she has nothing in her hands

Both hands should be used for balance


Also getting in and out of cars

she must have her hands empty as her right knee

hurts with bending or bearing weight

She has a cane and should be encouraged to use it

I have her trained not to carry her purse in the store

it's too heavy and cumbersome


If she falls, she falls —

you are not God

and she has lived her life