In a few weeks, life in an already upside-down year will get even more interesting, as I drive to St. Louis, help my widowed, 80-something mom say goodbye forever to her house of 50 years, pack up her favorite rocking chair, walker and suitcase, and bring her to our abode in Atlanta. I’ll have to persuade her to leave behind her cartons of fresh eggs — maybe give them to the neighbors.
Like a lot of adult children with elderly parents, we’ve had to do quite a bit of persuading with my mom lately. She overstayed her time in a house that’s too big for her to tend. It’s time to let someone else tend to that — and to her.
The pandemic has added an extra layer of concern. Luckily, she hadn’t exactly been a social butterfly, even before social distancing and avoiding crowds became a thing. But, the day she left eggs to boil so long that she forgot about them, the water evaporated and the eggs exploded, was a wake-up moment.
Now, it’s time for senior living at a time when putting a senior parent in such a facility comes with great trepidation. Residents of care centers across the country have been hit hard by the deadly virus. My home is the safest solution — at least, temporarily — but, I’ll tell ya: It has me worried.
I want to make sure my mom is happy down here, yet she’s pretty picky (wonder where I got that from). It feels a bit like my first pregnancy. In those months of waiting, I fretted over whether and how I’d be a decent mom. I had nine months to think about it. In this case, I’ve got two weeks to plan.
As those of us who are working and studying remotely — or anyone else primarily housebound during the pandemic — knows all too well, when you are confined, and less mobile, food becomes an event. So, meals for Mom are on my mind.
She once was an avid, from-scratch cook who grew up on honest Iowan fare, but she quit cooking a couple years ago. I’ll gladly assume that role now. The question is: What to prepare?
Dentures aren’t part of the picture, so dishes won’t be limited to liquids and soft foods.
Having grown up in the Depression era, though, she has little appetite for anything fancy. And, for some reason she never has disclosed, she doesn’t have a taste for tacos. We really had to push for Old El Paso as kids.
She likes goulash and chicken adobo, probably because they remind her of my dad.
Mealtimes will be interesting. She’ll be a new face for my husband and me, who have been staring at one another across the table three meals a day for the past seven months.
She might retell the same story, but that’s OK. Perhaps we can eke out a story or two that she hasn’t yet shared — or forgotten.
If she wants to help make dinner, I’m game, but we are not going to let Dorothy boil eggs alone. Also, even old birds can learn new tricks. I want to show my routinized mom that there’s more than one way to boil an egg — so long as you don’t let ’em explode.
THREE WAYS TO BOIL AN EGG
Excerpted from “Amboy: Recipes From the Filipino-American Dream” by Alvin Cailan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Excerpted from “Twelve Recipes” by Cal Peternell (HarperCollins)
Excerpted from “WD~50” by Wylie Dufresne (Ecco/HarperCollins)
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