Again, not heaps in my kitchen this month but I do have a story. Have you ever taken a nearly 89 year old woman with dementia shopping? I didn’t think so. It’s quite an experience, let me tell you.
John’s mother loves to shop and I mean that with a capital S. Maureen, on the other hand, would rather slit her wrists than spend an entire day looking at that, touching this, trying that on.
We started with the bras. As we’re walking along, John’s dad, who we brought along for the credit card, whispers, “Maureen, there’s something on the back of Joan’s dress.” That instant feeling of dread and ‘what the hell do I do now’ feeling hit the pit of my stomach. I looked. He was right.
I whispered to her, “Joan, there’s something on the back of your dress and it umm, looks like poo.” She looked at me with the biggest eyes and said, “Honestly, I didn’t do anything.” Turns out she hadn’t done anything but sit on a seat where a bottle of caramelized balsamic vinegar fell out of the grocery bag and leaked on my car seat.
Off we went to the loo and she took off her skirt while I washed the vinegar out and dried it under the hand dryer. Job done.
Back to the bras. She selected one that was two sizes too big for her, tried it on inside out and determined that it fit just fine. Now I hate to fit my own bras but to do it for my mother-in-law that I’ve never seen naked, well, I was beside myself. I decided that the store paid people to fit bras so there we were in a cubicle the size of a postage stamp – the four of us. One fitter wasn’t enough, apparently, she brought along an assistant.
Bras in hand and off we went to touch every piece of clothing in the department store. Finding no joy we headed out into the mall and she started talking to a woman selling blouses in the middle of the mall corridor. Now dementia can often mean that you can’t find the words for what you’re thinking in your head so when that happens you do charades. That’s how it is in our family, anyway. The poor sales lady couldn’t understand that she’d been asked if she had any belts. I was across the hall and I could tell she wanted a belt from the blouse lady.
I went over and said, “Oh, look at this dress shop, I bet they have some nice things.” That worked and she followed me over. I can’t thank the ladies in the Blue Illusion dress shop enough because they took my MIL and dressed her up like a doll, selling her 3 pairs of slacks, 5 tops and one gorgeous wool wrap. My job was done, at least that’s what I thought.
There was lunch to be eaten and a drive back to the home she lives in and on the way she decided that a nice coffee would be good and could she have some expensive face cleanser, toner and moisturizer too please. Poor Rob went home broke but happy that his wife had a big smile on her face.
Before we could get to the car after coffee she decided that she needed to go into a skateboard shop and look at shirts. I told her they were mens’ shirts and she said she could wear that. “Not unless you wear it as a dress!” She’s barely 4’10” and must weigh 90 pounds.
I got home exhausted and started looking around for what I had in my kitchen. First, my dear friend and fellow food blogger, Helene D’Souza from MasalaHerb.com recently sent me this huge package of surprises. Rob opened the door and accepted the package and when I got home he said, “Maureen, there is a package for you at the front door and it’s from INDIA!!
Rob was born in a part of India which is now Pakistan so you can imagine his curiosity. I told him that it was from a dear friend and he stood there and waited for me to open it.
I’d mentioned to Helene that I would love to have a curry dish and she sent not one but two sizes along with a gorgeous green table runner, her favorite hand cream and some wonderful spices. I felt SO spoiled.
Next is a 3-Seed Bread that I wanted to make for toast. I love jam on toast.
In this case I ate it with butter and jam while the bread was still hot!
I’ve also been nibbling (a lot) on this curried quinoa salad. I chop everything up and only mix in the dried fruit, peanuts and dressing just before eating. I can live on this stuff. I think it’s healthy too.
We’d all like to see what’s ‘In My Kitchen’ at your house this month. Link your post up with Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.
Joanne T Ferguson says
G’day! My heart goes out to you Maureen as I have extensive first hand knowledge of dementia and know what a challenge (understatement) the disease can be!
Pacing and laughter seem to be the only recipe!
What a great surprise from Helene…your jam and curried quinoa salad look divine!
I know you’ve been through this so you got the funny side of it. I did laugh most of the day. She knows she’s funny too so she cracks up when she can’t remember a word or has to do charades for us to help her find the word. It’s a horrid disease.
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
I am so glad you could return from your outing to this package – what a kind gift and you have obviously been putting the contents to good use! It sounds like a successful day and very enjoyable for your MIL, but no doubt very tiring for you.
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
I am so glad you could return from your outing to this package – what a kind gift and you have obviously been putting the contents to good use! It sounds like a successful day and very enjoyable for your MIL, but no doubt very tiring for you…
No, I can’t say I’ve ever taken a 89-old lady with dementia shopping…Funny story though…and it was nice of you. 🙂 ela
Save this story, Ela, just in case it ever happens to you. 🙂
Great post Maureen! Your mother in law sounds so cool! 🙂 I think she loves you so much. Wow – great gifts from your friend in India. I too want a curry dish – they look so beautiful. Bread, jam and curried quinoa salad look delicious! Enjoy your weekend and best wishes! 🙂
My mother-in-law does love me a lot. She knows where she stands because I have no baggage. I didn’t grow up with her as my mother so I just tell her how it is and hope she goes along. 🙂
I had to laugh a little bit about your story with your mother in law…. Ages ago I used to work in a home for elderly people with dementia. It can be sad but also incredibly funny at times. Thanks for the look in your kitchen! (Lovely package too!)
They crack me up. One day they’re off with the fairies and the next they’re hiding behind the door naked as a jaybird having sex. 🙂
Choc Chip Uru says
Aww you are the sweetest, and your mother in law sounds lovely, though I am sure you must have been tired after! Good thing you had that delicious bread to go home to 😀
Choc Chip Uru
My mother-in-law is lovely but she can also be hell on wheels 🙂
Gourmet Getaways says
I don’t like shopping at the best of times but wowwy, that is one interesting shopping expedition! Well done 🙂
How nice that you received a beautiful surprise at the end xx
I hate shopping. I don’t mind ‘buying’ if I know what I want before I leave home.
I am away on a trip (Paris, ma cherie!) and cannot keep up with blog reading, but I HAD TO ABSOLUTELY stop here to read your story!
loved it, of course….
I know it must be very hard to go through it all, but you do it with style, grace, and a tremendous amount of love! Absolutely wonderful!
hugs to all of you, from the City of Lights!
You know there are those lucky people you want to dislike because they’re always doing things you want to do? I’m trying not to be that person. 🙂 Have a wonderful time in Paris, my love! I can see you shopping on Rue Cler now. Buy something from the olive shop. 🙂
Denise Browning@From Brazil To You says
What an adventure with you mother-in-law, Maureen! And what a patient woman you are…God bless you! All those dishes look super delicious and the presents that you received from Helene are quite nice. I loved the pan on the right — and of course, the spices!!!!
I am shaking with laughter, Maureen!! 🙂 For a little over a year I took care of elderly women, most of whom had dementia. When I accepted the job NO ONE told me that I would have to bathe the old dears. Oh lordy. I thought I might perish. 🙂 But, really, there’s nothing you can do but have a laugh and go for it. 🙂 All that to say, I feel your pain. Truly. And you are an angel for spending all that time shopping with her. Shopping is ghastly to me too (unless it’s for food or at thrift stores cuz that’s just FUN!). 🙂 I’m so glad you were loved on by your dear, thoughtful friend at the end of such a trying day. 🙂 XO
I’m getting used to it and I’ve learned to change the subject when she wants to go home. That makes life much easier.
John@Kitchen Riffs says
Wow, what a great haul from Helene! And great salad too — that does look pretty healthy. Amusing, but touching, story about your mother-in-law. I hate shopping too, so I know how little fun that part of the day was for you. But you’ll have good memories of it. Anyway, fun read — thanks.
I’ll never forget looking at that blob of caramelized balsamic vinegar on the back of her dress and thinking it was poo. I can laugh now! 🙂
Boy, sounds like quite an experience, dementia is such a horrible disease and it sounds like you know exactly how to handle it. What a nice package to receive at the end of the day!
Oh Cheri, I WISH I knew how to handle it. I’m taking a course in dementia starting at the end of the month. I think that will be really helpful.
Sounds like an exhausting outing but you had the patience of Job and got through it. Your surprise package from India was well deserved. As well as a stiff drink. 🙂
The seed bread looks delicious. I’m not doing too much cooking/baking these days though I have great ambitions. Plans are made before I go to bed to bake this and cook that, and then, the next day, they’re tossed out the window. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.
I do the same thing. I go to bed thinking I’ll get up early and do this first thing and by third thing the day is away and my plans dashed.
Hot bread with jam sounds amazing. Yum!
Melissa @ My Recent Favorite Books says
Sounds like you had a interesting day with your Mother – in -law. =)
I don’t like shopping, so I can totally understand how you feel.
Its memories like this, that will make you smile later…
Have a wonderful day!
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
You’re such a wonderful daughter in law Maureen. She must have had the best day! What a lovely gift from india.
She did! As we left she yelled, ‘thank you, thank you, thank you!!’
Mary Frances says
Dear Saint Maureen — YOU are amazing!!!!!
LOL I promised her I’d take her. I knew it was going to be funny.
Hotly Spiced says
I’m physically worn out from just reading about your shopping experience. Unbelievable. I’m so glad all four of you survived. I too, just hate browsing the shops looking at clothes. Can’t stand it. But I force myself to go because my darling daughter just loves clothes shopping and she also likes to touch everything and try everything on in every shop. As soon as we enter a shop I’m looking for the courtesy chairs. That’s so kind of Helene – what a lovely gift xx
Rob kept the courtesy chairs warm. I did the trotting back and forth and making sure the clothes were on in the right direction 🙂
Maureen. Oh Maureen. I’d sooner hammer a tent peg into my head that spend a day “just shopping”, and that’s on my OWN. I can’t imagine what it must have been like with a demented 89 year old. God bless you, that’s all I can say. I’m glad you received a pressie in the mail – you deserved it after that – how kind of your friend Helene. Your bread looks gorgeous too!
My bread doesn’t hold a candle to yours but I’ll get there!
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Oh Maureen….. can the angels come and sweep you away to an island paradise where you are waited on hand and food for six months! It’s your turn, love… you are a saint! Loved the story, would have laughed if only it weren’t true xox
Oh I laughed!!
I’m just relieved it wasn’t poo!!! Gosh I was reading your story and hoping I’ll be as patient and kind as you are if I am ever in the same situation. I can’t image the charades my mum would conjure up it would be too funny. Although I’d have to pay someone else to take my MIL shopping for a bra there’s no way I could go there 🙂
Nancy, you’d do what you had to. I never thought I could do it either. She just laughs at the hilarity of the whole thing. She knows she’s nutty. I saw her again today and she had some coins and couldn’t tell a $2 coin from a fifty cent piece. sad.
Alls well that ends well. You are an angel!
No, really, I’m not. When you have someone like that in the family, you do the right thing. Anyone would.
Bam's Kitchen says
Hello Maureen, you are a saint for taking her shopping. It means the world to her, of course she won’t remember it, but it is good for her to get out and about. The “poo” incident had me worried for a moment glad to hear it was balsamic vinegar. What a relief! That is one beautiful loaf of bread on your kitchen counter.. Have a super weekend. BAM
You and me both. Imagine if it HAD been poo. What would I have done with her then? LOL It boggles the mind!
Barbara @ Barbara Bakes says
What sweet friends you have. I’m a shopper myself and hope someday someone humors me and takes me shopping. You’re a sweetie.
I should get you to take my mother-in-law shopping! She’s great in the bra department.
InTolerant Chef says
What a wonderful and exciting package indeed Maureen! My 92 year old Nanna used to shop lift if we didn’t watch her closely, small stuff like magazine’s or cat food. Thank goodness I didn’t have to see her naked though! 🙂
LOL I think I’d rather have naked than have to take stuff back. 🙂
Gosh you are a gem. They must thank their lucky stars that their son had the good sense to marry you Maureen. What an amazing thoughtful thing to do to send you a package like that. Such a beautiful surprise( and you deserve it)
I keep trying to tell them, Tania but they look at me and laugh. 🙂 These are the people who wouldn’t meet me for over a year because I was American. go figure. You know, I’m one of those Americans who chews gum. ALL Americans chew gum they told me. LOL (I don’t chew gum) I said if they ever did meet me, they’d like me. I’m fun.
Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) says
You deserve an award for that shopping trip. I’m with you not much of a shopper. I love that photo of the bread with the jam. Made me instantly hungry. And with the bread still warm??? ohmygoodnessgood.
I deserve an award just for visiting. I’ve made friends with quite a few of the residents. They can be really sweet and they’re all lonely.
Oh how I can relate to your story about your MIL. 🙂 At least she didn’t seem to get belligerent when things didn’t go perfect or the clerk didn’t understand what she wanted. Your MIL sounds as sweet as your FIL. What a nice gift from Maureen and I love that seed bread! Great post Maureen!
Oh she can be very difficult. She once told me I was a horrible person and worse for ‘locking her up’ – I’m only the in-law! I kissed her cheek and told her I’d see her again when she was in a better mood and walked out. She hasn’t done it since. 🙂
What a lovely gift basket from Helene… she’s a gem. 🙂
I couldn’t agree with you more!
Krissie - Pearls of Style says
Sounds like shopping was quite the adventure, I’m sure she appreciates all the time with you. I’ve been making a lot of quinoa myself lately, my favourite kind of salad is having it with pumpkin, beetroot and goats cheese.
Krissie x – http://pearlsofstyle.blogspot.com.au
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Maureen, what a darling daughter in law you are looking after her like that. And what a great surprise to greet you at the end of the day too! 😀
Christina @ The Hungry Australian says
What a lovely story about your MIL. At times like these it’s best to find the humour in every situation, isn’t it? And what a nice package from India!
Judy @Savoring Today says
Aw, so sweet of you to take your MIL shopping–what a day!
Mmm, fresh bread. I am the worst at waiting for bread to ‘cool completely’ before slicing … it’s just seems cruel, but the butter won’t melt otherwise. 🙂
What a great surprise gift ~ so sweet of her!
The Café Sucre Farine says
Oh my goodness, what a day! Don’t feel too bad though. My sister took my mom to a nice restaurant once when when she was quite elderly. She had an accident and they had to go to the bathroom and clean her up. My mom bemoaned the fact, for a long time, that my sister made her throw away A BRAND NEW GIRDLE!!!
You deserved that nice surprise package. You are a saint (I think even that priest would now agree if he could peek into your life these days 🙂 )
It sounds like you had quite the shopping adventure!
I’m definitely going to have to try that curried quinoa salad. Seems like something I could make ahead of time and bring to work for lunch.
Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes says
Wow – what a shopping trip huh??!! Oh and that quinoa salad sounds sooo good.
Barb Bamber says
Well, I’m approaching that stage in life where I will be looking after my parents. I’m lucky they’re in good health so far. Bless you for your patience with your MIL, you’re really special to do that, Maureen. I know many wouldn’t take the time. I love that loaf of bread and warm with butter and jam is just how I’d have it too!xx
How good of you to look after you MIL, Maureen. I cared for Mom during her illness and, much like the ladies of Blue Illusion, it was the kindness of strangers that often made all the difference in the World. Bless them — and you. 🙂
Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits says
You created such good karma with your generosity of time and patience spent with your mother-in-law and it appears the Universe rewarded you for it. Just a thought.
You’re a very good and patient daughter-in-law. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are the worst, and I can’t decide who it’s harder on…the person who has it or the loved ones who deal with them and watch it happen. At any rate, I’m sure your MIL was appreciative. I wish I had some of that bread in my kitchen right now!
Maureen, I liked your story and that was my life for 16 years as a provider/owner of a small, 4-lady Adult Family Home. All different stages of dementia. Some days I felt I was one of the ladies. But, I have a lot of wonderful memories stored up also! They all liked my cooking!
Awwwww Maureen, this is one of the loveliest post I have read. I feel for you Ma in law, she must have been quite a formidable lady in her time, so sad to think she can’t control what seems to have been a really fine mind once.
Isn’t Helene the sweetest!!
It would be really tough for a former English teacher to struggle to find the words to the point where she has to play charades to tell her story. It’s incredibly sad but we don’t dwell on that because frankly, it is what it is and we do the best to make her life easy.
The Wimpy Vegetarian says
I really enjoyed reading this, Maureen. My mom had Alzheimer’s and I completely related to the story. It’s all a part of life – and really how nice to spend a day with her. I’d rather slit my wrists than spend a day shopping too, so I get that too. Well, unless I’m at a Farmer’s Market. That’s a completely different kind of shopping for me.
The Wimpy Vegetarian says
Oh and how wonderful to come home to such a nurturing and nourishing gift from Helene. Love how karma works 🙂
PRASHANTH RAJ says
one of the awesome posts i have ever read till date honestly and i have enjoyed reading this article.i will definitely try that quinoa salad 🙂
Amy @ Elephant Eats says
Hahaha, I’m with you on shopping…I hate it! What a good deed you did to take your mother-in-law shopping. It sounds like you made her very happy 🙂