Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bullies and favourite grand-daughters

Since the ‘clean up after yourself campaign is floundering,’ I decide instead to push for a snippet of independent living. It’s a tricky one, as diabetics need to eat regularly. Elderly people also need to be encouraged to continue independence in small manageable tasks but it’s hard to draw the line between that and being a slave driver. It is just as easy for me to make sandwiches for everyone in one fell swoop but I need to have the children attempt to make their own, despite the mess. Why not do likewise with Nonna? Several reasons immediately come to mind, not all that different from the barriers my own children face such as ‘where is the bread/butter/filling/knife/plate etc. It’s all very time consuming.

I am also alarmed to note that we have fallen into an unfortunate habit, although the fault is entirely mine. Nonna appears at around lunch time in the kitchen. I mention lunch. She mentions that she really isn’t hungry, at all. I remind her of the importance of eating regularly. She leans against the door and asks what if anything, there might be to tempt her. I take out the temptations and before I know it I have made a sandwich, a custom order. I pass her the plate, she beams with just the tiniest hint of satisfaction. Just call me Pavlov! She’s a force to be reckoned with and no mistake. Having learned from my mistake, again, try a new tactic. We repeat our daily conversation up to the point of temptation, whereupon I suggest she has a look in the fridge and make whatever she would like. I then remove my self to a safe distance, the utility room, to fold laundry but within shouting distance. My back is turned towards her as I lift and fold and lift and fold surrounded by four already full laundry hampers as I’m sure the visual reminder will keep her on track. She may be mischievous but she’s not certainly not mean. I’m confident that given time she’ll persevere rather than ask. I listen to her mutterings as she gently sequences herself through the lengthy series of tasks. I know she can do it.

“Where is she?” she calls but I ignore the distraction, at first.
“Who?” I call over my shoulder as we’ve only just finished the tortoise repeat.
“Where is she?” When she says it a third time I turn to face her, holding a packet of Salami in her hands.
“Penny who?”
“You know…….your daughter, Penny.”
“Do you mean Tamsin?”
“No dah other one.”
“Ella? Is dat er name?”
“Right,” she acknowledges with hesitation.
“She’s at school. I’ll collect her in half an hour.”
“Right.” Her first grandchild of three. The similarity between the two of them in both humour and temperament is quite marked. Her joy at the birth was a sensation, unparalleled by subsequent arrivals, as is often the way with these things. She puts the open packet of salami on the counter next to the bread before she wanders off, leaving, but she pauses and calls over her shoulder, “I know I shouldn’t say it, but Penny az always been my favourite.”
Lucky Penny or bad Penny? I wonder who she is?


Jazz said...

Maddy, your posts are so touching and heartbreaking and beautiful.

Anonymous said...

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jinksy said...

EEK! This is too close for comfort, for she who is named Penelope...