Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Recipes for a Good Life

Tonight for practically the first time in her life, my 87 year old Aunt Ruth, my mom's oldest sister, is sleeping in a home without a family member present. The oldest of 10 children, she graduated from high school and promptly went to work in a shoe factory to help support the family. She worked at the factory and played a big role in her small town church until she retired, remaining in the family home to help care for my aging grandparents as each of her siblings left to get married. Once both my grandparents were gone, she moved in with another sister, who had become a widow the year before. While they sometimes appeared to be an odd couple (the bickering could be unbearable), the sisters lived together in relative peace for 21 years, until today when Aunt Ruth moved to a nursing home because her 82 year old sister was no longer strong enough to care for her.

Aunt Ruth recently fell a few times and has convinced herself that she can no longer walk, and her sister simply can't get her up and moving. While Aunt Ruth's body is failing her, her mind is still sharp. When we visited her over the weekend to help prepare for the move to the nursing home, she accurately told us where things were. A nursing home doctor tested her mental abilities by asking her who the president of the United States is. Her reply, "That jackass!" shows that she's still lovably feisty. As I hugged her goodbye, Aunt Ruth told me that she's going to have to learn to like living in the nursing home. I hope that her attitude stays positive and that the nursing homes doctors are able to get her on her feet again. While Aunt Ruth wears a hearing aid and talks loudly, often scaring young children, Tootle has always loved being with her. She wants to make and send her cards, and so we will. Doodle appears to be more worried about the 82 year old sister, who will be living along for the first time in 21 years, so she too will get special cards. (I too am a bit worried about my 82 year old aunt: she looks so tired and stressed out.)

The weekend visit has always resulted in a project for me. I borrowed a book filled with my grandma's recipes that I'm going to make into a book for family members. I had a grand time perusing it last night. Next spring I just may have to make some dandelion wine (I know my grandpa made this, but I never got to try it), and I'm thrilled to have the recipe for Faye's sugar cookies and other goodies.

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