For the past month or so I have been in Georgia watching my 99 year old great grandma. I enjoyed a lot of laughs and few a tears and everything in between. It was fun and learned more than I bargained for in terms of running a household by myself and taking care of a spunky grandma who keeps on ticking. So (in true list maker fashion) here is my list of what I learned.
1// Find expiration dates on anything. In an older person’s home, they don’t use ingredients quickly and forget that they already own 4 bags of flour so checking expiration dates is so so so important. My sister and I learned to locate it on just about everything (and threw out things that had bit the dust).
2//Fruit rinds smell. I learned pretty quickly to cut up cantaloup and watermelon just before trash day so they wouldn’t smell up the kitchen. Also she doesn’t have a disposal so cleaning out the drain is gross but has to be done.
3//How to wash out Ziplocks. This must be a result of growing up in the Great Depression because Mama would not let me throw away Ziplocks and if I did she would go to the trash and dig it out. So I had to wash, dry them and reuse them.
4//News is repetitive. While the anchors change every hour or so, the stories they run and even the ‘special guests’ stay around all day and appear with each anchor. I’ve watched enough news to last me a life-time. Also I can quote commercials and even the little jingles that go with them.
5//Just roll with it. Between watching Mama eat spoonfuls of cream cheese to getting the news paper before she wakes up, I’ve learned to just go with the flow and make her happy. This includes washing out zip locks and saving bread ties.
6//Listening. Even if it means listening to the same story 5-6 times in a row, act excited and surprised at every twist and turn in the story. Even if you can quote it by heart.
7//Old cookbooks are the best. My sister and I have spent quite a bit of time combing through her cookbook and experimented (seen here and here). On the best recipes she wrote ‘very good’ or ‘company favorite’ to reminder herself just how good they were. I love looking at her handwriting and seeing her hand-copied recipes next to ones cut out of news papers.
8//How to meal plan. I’ve had to cook 3 times a day 7 days a week (which is way different than my college lifestyle) so I’ve learned to plan out my meals and sift through Pinterest to find useful recipes to make (that don’t require ingredients that have expired)
9//Stay one step ahead. If I don’t get the newspaper before Mama wakes up, she will go out there and get it herself. This goes for cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry as well.
10//Love. Between her stories about her husband and her children, I’ve learned a lot about love. I love her and I’m so sad to leave her tomorrow. This could be one of the last times I see her and I hope she sees how much she has taught me. When she’s says ‘I don’t think I can let you girls leave me here, I’m going to starve’ or ‘You need to let me do the work for you are spoiling me’ I know that I have done my job here and left her a little happier than when I found her. I will miss her but I know that she is just a phone call away and I hope to celebrate her 100th birthday come January!