Monday, April 27, 2009

Death & Food

We spent the afternoon down in Rhode Island with my Mom. Mom is 85. Last year she had a series of really rough patches with her health. She was one of my obliquely referenced "Elderly Relatives" or "ERs" here on the blog. Thankfully, she had some really good physical therapy and got herself a new MD who truly cares about her - her health and the whole gestalt of who she is. She is doing much better now, but I think the whole thing frightened her and shook the ground she stands on.

So now, Mom spends a lot of time thinking about and talking about "when I'm gone..." To be fair, Mom has always been comfortable talking about death, dying and ordinary versus extraordinary means. As the primary care giver for my Dad during his illness and death from Alzheimer's she had to face some harsh realities. Dad's condition prompted Mom to be abundantly clear about what she did and did not want her final days on earth to be like. She also took care of her mother-in-law and father-in-law and her own Mom and Dad in their last years. Now, she has her only sibling, a younger sister, in troubling health, living in a nursing home. So for Mom, these topics are like breathing.

But lately, nearly every one of our daily phone conversations has some reference to her death. She might have cleaned out a closet and collected some clothing to donate to charity. But in describing the process, it's couched in "so you girls have less to go through after I'm gone." Today, we had lunch over at Panera. She started talking about the fact that they cater. I knew what was coming. She wanted us to know that we could consider hiring Panera to cater the get together after her funeral or memorial service. I knew it was coming because at Carrie's bridal shower last July, Mom picked up one of the business cards the caterer had left and brought it over to us. She wanted to let us know that she thought the food was delicious and that we could hire them. "For what?" we asked innocently. "For after my funeral." she replied. We were only momentarily nonplused. Soon we were in hysterics, laughing uproariously - all of us, including Mom.

As we sat in the booth at Panera, I asked Mom if she realized how often she brought these things up. She laughed a little, then smiled and said "I enjoy planning it." Then she pointed out that the sandwiches from Panera might be too big and therefore too messy. "People would be spilling food all over my carpet." How can I argue with any of that? So the bridal shower caterer is still in the lead.

Happy planning Mom! May you be still be planning it all as you become a centenarian!


dancingmorganmouse said...

I like the sound of your mum. If you don't plan it yourself you may end up with goodness knows what. And catering is very serious business.

Wendy said...

well no one wants messy sandwich filling on their carpets LOL. I think people are so afraid to talk of death (me included) but its one of lifes certainties and perhaps that does make it easier in the end.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. She truly has gotten more "obsessive" but this is the first time I have heard that she enjoys planning it. Kind of like the anticipation of the trip is almost as good as the actual event.

Whatever blows her skirts up!!


Pink Granite said...

Hi DMM -
Absolutely! Catering and "party" planning is a very serious business! And clearly my Mom is enjoying this whole process!
- Lee

Hi Wendy -
Nope! Mom redid the floors not all that long ago, so she doesn't need a bunch of her relatives messing up the joint! And you're right, death is a certainty. It's much better to take the bull by the horns, rather than hide one's head in the sand - to mix a metaphor!
- Lee

Hi Gail -
Believe me, it leaves me with LOTS of mixed feelings too!
But I had to laugh out loud when I read " Kind of like the anticipation of the trip is almost as good as the actual event." As you well know, Mom always said that whenever we were planning a family vacation. So to read it in the context of her "final journey" - oh my! There's no escaping this topic!
- Lee

Sue said...

That's so funny!! She's only trying to make life easier for you! I can imagine, though, that constantly being reminded of her death (hopefully at 110), must be tough on you too. Still, it'll be something you'll laugh about in later days!

Sue x

Papamoka said...

Been there and done that Lee. My dad, long before the Alzheimer's took over, wrote out the instructions right down to what he wanted served at the "Party". When he started heading down hill he kept asking if I still had his list. Eventually, he forgot about his list and everything else but I went by his wishes as best I could when his last day came.

I too hope your mom lives to be 110 my friend.

Pink Granite said...

Hi Sue & Papamoka -
Thank your for the good wishes for Mom's longevity!

Deep down, I so appreciate her willingness to talk about such things. We had a relative who passed away suddenly in his 80s and he had always refused to discuss anything related to death and dying. His widow was in such distress as she tried to make arrangements for him, it was awful.

So I'm happy to have a folder where I pop in all of Mom's suggestions/requests!
Thank you!
- Lee

Roo said...

My mum would so get on with your mum! ;o) Here's to planning

Pink Granite said...

Cheers! to both our Mums and long life too!

Anonymous said...

Sorry I have not been on in a while..I think it makes it easier talking about her own death..She told me she wants to make her wishes clear to everyone while she still "has her mind." ...CC