Babu rises and shines again right around 8:30. Ok, now we are back on track. As she takes about 25 minutes in the bathroom I get breakfast started. I should set my alarm in the morning a lot later because at this point I can do this in my sleep. When the door to the bathroom opens I’m at the exact spot in the process I want to be. We shout our Polish exclamations of morning greetings, it’ll be a moment before I get her hearing aides popped in, and I get her settled in her chair, apron on, eye drops administered and hair brushed. Her first meal, a plate of nine delish pills. How fun. She takes the small ones two at time, my guess, to hurry the process along. She has kept her healthy appetite yet even still I remind her, in Polish, slow down.
Before she digs in to that pile of bright stuff that probably is keeping her alive, she tells me the same things she does every single morning.
“You know, I don’t think I dream. I used to dream.”
It deeply bothers her but every time she tells me, I feel relief. What horror shapes would her anxieties and dementia misunderstandings take in her dreams? What web would they keep her tangled in even after she woke and how would I be able to bring her back to the real world then? I’m grateful.
I tell her none of that, but I do tell her the truth. I tell her that for two years I didn’t dream. It made me question: What was wrong in my life? How mentally unhealthy was I? They came back. That’s the part I tell her. My dreams came back but she doesn’t buy it. She is stacking up reasons that she is too old for this world.
What feels like a dream to me is all of this:
Friday, February 2nd, 1940
Eddie Zimba took me home and had to rush to get dressed for the diner dance. We collected Zosh, Eddie, Ernie, and Chester Modzelewski and went. Dinner was rather good (fish.) We danced a lot. After diner we came back for Stretch and Nat and stopped to take pictures at Eddie’s house. The formal went by entirely too fast. Jeb sent Ernie a telegram saying he couldn’t come. The – – – –
I could flat out kill whoever cut the heads off of the guys in this pictures, but still…I look at these and sigh! And Jeb, some things never change. You deserved more than the dashes, you deserved the word.
Also these cuties were taken that night:
“What a pile of treats!” Babu says, back in 2018, looking at her fruit plate. Prunes, of course, a sliced banana, some strawberries, and, an homage, apricots. (Read this!)
Thursday, February 15th, 1940
Zosh was 21 tonight and Jakey and I, Stretch, Nat, and Eddie gathered at her house. Eddie gave her a gold heart locket and bracelet and a birthday cake. Nat gave her a lovely purse and I got her pajamas and nail polish. She had her own birthday cake so we ate that and took Eddie’s home. We had something to drink ate and played games. It was after one when we got home.
As she gulps her pills and settles in her dentures, I warm the oatmeal the last little bit, set out her bread and very last, heat her coffee to extreme measures. (What is it about old ladies wanting their coffee singe and third degree burn worthy? My great aunt was the same way.)
She begins to eat and I pop on the TV, nothing she can see, hear, or follow, but it’s background. I don’t know if I actually enjoy Kelly and Ryan, or it’s just part of the routine, but I do know I enjoy it when breakfast runs over and Wayne Brady makes an appearance.
This is the part of breakfast I thought about glossing over. About not admitting to. I don’t sit with her for most of the hour it takes her to eat breakfast. I feel guilt about it every morning to the point that some days I do sit with her for longer.
I go through the justifications in my head, the main one being that I need to serve two more breakfasts. Those two get served to eight legs, Stella, the pup, and Oy, my first baby, the cat. No breakfast for me until much later, but there is cup after cup of coffee. Also, Stella needs to go outside and I will probably need to go inside at least once more, if you know what I mean. But when I really think about it, I could get up a little earlier and take care of the pets and my own business. To be honest, this is a caretaking choice I make. Babu, a freaking miracle at her age, can feed herself well. Food is all the entertainment and company that girl needs in the morning. (Trust me, I watch her as she happily surveys the meal before her and selects the next morsel she wants to devour.) She’s happy and she should feel her independence when she can. It’s also one of the few times throughout the day that I know she’s safe. Of course she needs help at the beginning and at the end but during her meal she wont be getting up and walking anywhere, she wont be doing her exercises, she wont be confused about what time of the day it is. So, for the middle half hour or so, I take time for myself. Oh yes, and those four legged friends of mine.