Thursday, March 8, 2018

One is the Loneliest Number

Yesterday I had a meltdown in the neighborhood Sprout's parking lot. I had gone grocery shopping for the first time since my mom passed away 3 weeks ago. When she came to live with me in 2013, she had lots of medical issues, such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and recently lung cancer and kidney failure. I had to monitor her diet closely. Because she was pre-diabetic and prone to fluid retention, we calculated sodium and sugar intake daily. Like a lot of people, she had foods she would not eat. And as the elderly tend to do, she constantly added foods to her no-longer-will-eat list. As you can imagine, grocery shopping was a complex and time-consuming chore.

When mom became sick two months ago, I stayed with her at the hospital 24/7 unless one of my sisters was in town and could stay overnight. I knew the menu and the hours of the hospital cafeteria by heart and usually ate one or two meals there daily. House guests would pick up soda or dairy products as desired. Nobody was cooking.

After mom's celebration of life service, everyone eventually went home, and I tossed out the leftover food that was no longer edible. Rest assured, all cake was saved by freezing. And it was time to stock up on fruits and veggies, milk, and so forth. As I was selecting small portions like two green bananas and one sweet potato, it hit me that this is exactly how I felt shopping after my husband Jerry died. There were no longer two people living in our house. I was sadly shopping for one again. Meal preparation had no schedule. Meals could be eaten alone on any flat surface desired. Or if the culinary repast was not pleasing to the palate, it could be eaten over the kitchen sink, so it could be easily swept into the disposal.

I forced myself to remain in the grocery store until I selected adequate food to ward off the compulsion to just hit a fast food place or revert to my previously known behavior of purchasing a coffee and a really big cookie to eat as I wandered through the mall to avoid the dinner hour.

I loaded my meager purchases into the back hatch and got into the van. Waves of grief and sadness assaulted me, and for some unknown phenom it started raining hard right here in Arizona where it hardly ever rains. Once nature's waterworks had started, I joined in with my own.

The last four and a half years have been undeniably sweetened by the presence of my mom. We had time to really forge a friendship and to appreciate the differences in our decorating styles. Like any successful relationship, we agreed on the major issues (like Chicago Cubs rule) and were able to overlook the minor differences we each stumbled over. My life has been enriched immeasurably by dedicating that time to her care and happiness. We both got bonus time. The icing on the cake was coming across a copy of her 2017 Christmas letter after she passed. She had written "I've lived in Arizona now for four and a half years and I have to say I really love it here." That's all the testimony I needed to know I had done a good job. If mom was happy, then I am happy. As for shopping for one, it may take time, but I will get used to it again and even allow myself to pick out foods that I enjoy.

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One is the Loneliest Number

     Yesterday I had a meltdown in the neighborhood Sprout's parking lot. I had gone grocery shopping for the first time s...