My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year. It’s moderate to severe at this point and though there are points where her memory is fairly ok, her ability to manage the day to day routines of life has been seriously impaired.
This is compounded by the fact that she use to be my brother’s primary caretaker as he has Down’s Syndrome. Those roles have reversed and now he’s her caretaker.
Life can be a wild ride.
Currently, my brother, Jose, has a super busy life. He’s gone everyday for at least 8 hours or so. This leaves my mother alone all week, and its not only becoming increasingly dangerous, but they have both gained a lot of weight and are eating a ton of fast food because it’s just convenient.
I’m back here in California now to help in some way with a transition that will serve them both. And I’m finding myself now spending about 4 days a week there with them and then heading back up to Idyllwild for a break, be with Jon a bit and catch up on my writing.
Other than maneuvering the maze of becoming the executor of a Trust and looking for day programs my mother can participate in, food and their meals has become a huge focus for me.
Cooking For Others As A Service
I’ve been cooking for myself and others for over 25 years now. I’ve loved every minute of it and as time passes the depth of its meditative affects on me literally heals and transforms my soul one meal at a time.
Cooking for them has been different. I need to create meals that are tupperware friendly, can keep in the refrigerator for at most 5 days and are all easily microwaveable, which is a completely different mindset than the one I typically have.
The other is the worry. I can’t shake the worry. So much of my focus is on the intention and mindset I have when preparing meals for myself and others. Imbuing food with love and healing is so important to the process and yet, I’m so worried.
What if it’s not enough for the week?
What if she forgets and gets rid of it all thinking it’s old?
What if my brother isn’t there to guide her and she gets in the car in search of other food?
What if they don’t like what I made?
On and on it goes. Making too much, not making enough. The fact that I’m in such a state makes it worse because I try to shift out of it and it’s hard.
I don’t want to be in this state while I prepare their food. All this anxiety is the last thing I want to be giving them with each plate of food I make for them.
The Practice Of Love
This entire process got me thinking about the beautiful ritual we all have of making food for others in need.
The way we make food for a grieving family after a loved one dies, or making soup for a friend or loved one who is sick. Or Doulas that come in and make food for the new mama and partner after the baby is born to allow the family to bond and recover.
Such a beautiful thing we do. It’s a way to nourish, to say, “Here, I know you’re grieving, or tired, or crazy busy and have little energy to take care of yourself fully. Let me help you with that. Here’s food to feed you and keep you going.”
It all stems from love and compassion and a commitment to tribe in it’s many forms.
I had to really work hard last week, and still now, while at the cabin to shift my thinking, to calm the worry and fear. Of course there is enough food. Of course, they’ll like it. Of course, no one will starve in my absence.
They need love. They need sustenance. It’s a service of love to provide that. For that I’m thankful. For that I pray… that rather then worry over it all, I just do it, creating sustenance of love and care for them.
My only mantra right now is Love. It’s the only way I can think of to shift the anxious state I seem to be in all the tim.
Love. Only love.