Thursday, April 30, 2009

How to Buy a Bra for a 96-year-old

Whew! I have been on the run since last week! Last Thursday was my "errand day" with my grandmother, then Friday, I took her for a six-month checkup with her cardiologist in a city 30 miles away. We started off with car trouble, but thanks to my husband, we recovered fairly quickly and were on our way. Thank goodness the car broke down in my grandmother's driveway and not out of town!

We made a day of it... had lunch at Dixie Cafe, shopped for new bras for my grandmother (which was a dead end - they no longer make woven cotton bras!), Tetley Tea (the only brand she drinks - that city's Kroger no longer carries it), went to Hancock's and bought fabric for baby bibs and burp pads, hit a few yard sales, and got home late afternoon! My grandmother declared it a "wonderful day," in spite of the misses on bras and tea! She told a lady at the garage sale, "Debbie never has time for me when she takes me to the beauty shop - she always has something else she needs to do. Today was MY day - I spent the whole day with her."

I managed to squeeze in an auction Saturday morning before working PR at a fundraising 5k that evening for the American Cancer Society. Sunday, I took my mother-in-law to another auction, and since then I have been catching up on household chores (like laundry) and cleaning. So it is no wonder that I got mixed up on my days and thought that Tuesday was the day to take my grandmother for her pacemaker check at the local hospital. In actuality, it was not until Wednesday! So I had another day to catch up on things, and yesterday, we did indeed get the pacemaker checked and ate lunch at the hospital cafeteria. I managed to work in some furniture dusting and vacuuming afterward before heading to the church to practice with a junior-high boys' quartet!

So about the bras... we arrived at Penney's and headed for the ladie's underwear section. I directed my grandmother to the Playtex area... "No, it's not Playtex, it's 'Cross Your Heart.'" "Yes, I know," I replied, "Playtex IS Cross Your Heart." "No, it's not!" "Yes, it IS... Playtex has made 'Cross Your Heart' bras for a hundred years!" "I'll just find a saleslady," she retorted. I went ahead shopping for myself, while my grandmother toddled off to find a salesperson. Soon she was back with a lady who led her to the Playtex display. "All we have is the 'Criss-Cross' bra," she explained. "That's it!" Mam-ma said. The lady removed the bra from the box, and Mam-ma shook her head... "No, that's NOT it! I need cotton. I can't wear this polyester." We finally determined that Mam-ma meant woven cotton, and the lady explained that she didn't think anyone made a woven cotton bra any more. "WELL!" Mam-ma declared... "I'll just make do with these old things then... polyester breaks me out." Now she wears polyester camisoles and sometimes polyester panties, but she insisted that a polyester bra would break her out. So we did not get any bras. She said, "I'll look in my catalogs," meaning Old Pueblo Traders and Blair. I looked online at home and found NO woven cotton bras - except an organic draw-string gizmo from England! NOT!

At Kroger, I searched for the Tetley Tea, and when I went back to the car without any, she was aggravated... "well my friend just bought me some here last month." I told her that her friend must have bought the last box, because Kroger didn't carry it any more, and I even asked a manager. "Well, he doesn't know what he is talking about!" she said. I told her I hoped he did... he was the manager - surely he knows what his store carries. She insisted that no tea is like Tetley Tea, and she even told my mother and her husband as much over the weekend!

I decided to look at Wal-Mart for a cotton knit bra and see if that might work. I found one today that looked like it might be a possibility, and they only had one in her size - 36C. So I bought it. I took it home and showed it to her, and I said, "Try it on and see if it will work. If so, the next time they have some more in your size, I'll get them." She tried it on - it fit just fine. I took the tag off and stuck it in my pocket for reference. "Next time I see these at Wal-Mart," I told her, "I'll get some more." She folded the bra and set it aside, saying, "Well one time I got a 36B and it fit real good. See if they have a 36B. I'll not wash this one just yet." I questioned her and realized that she doesn't plan to keep the 36C (which was what she asked me to get) if the B-cup fits! I still had to return to Wal-Mart to get OUR groceries, so I said, "I'll look for a B-cup," and she said "Now don't go back to Wal-Mart for that today!" I told her, "I have to go back to Wal-Mart anyway - for OUR groceries. If I find a bra for you, I'll return the C-cup NEXT week." She said that was fine, as she would not want to keep it. Geez!

Wal-Mart did have one B-cup bra in this style. They also had Tetley Tea! I bought two boxes, and my mom had already bought her a box. So that crisis is averted momentarily, as well. Now all I have to do is return the original bra next week, and we should be okay - at least on the "foundations" front!

Did I mention that my great-nephew is due to come into this world at any minute? Yep, we are on BABY WATCH! From one end of the spectrum to the other, there are no dull moments in my household - and I'm juggling as fast as I can!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

A couple of weeks ago, my grandmother showed us an ad that came in the Sunday newspaper for a hearing device. It clipped on the ear like a popular mobile phone device, and as she put it, "only costs $20." She added, "If it would help me, it would be worth it." I know my grandmother has hearing problems... but I have to tell you, at 96 years of age, her hearing seems to often be quite selective. Things I think that she could never hear, she discerns just fine, and others, she doesn't hear (or chooses NOT to hear?) at all!

So I brought the ad home and laid it on my desk. I knew that a friend of ours and his brothers had purchased a device for their mother that consisted of a little box she wore around her neck with ear buds, and the amplification worked well for her. She wore this device every waking hour. I e-mailed my friend and asked him the name of this device. His mother has recently passed away, and later that evening, my friend rang our doorbell and handed me his mom's device... box and all. He said, "We've been wondering who we could give this to... I hope it helps your grandmother." He is a GREAT friend!

This device costs nearly $200 brand new. It has an AC charger and several sets of ear buds and a headset, a belt clip, and the neck cord. I charged the unit and took it to my grandmother, explaining where it came from and how nice it was... and how much BETTER it would be than her device for $20. She said, "It's very much like the ones we use at church." I helped her pick out ear buds that fit, and I showed her how it all worked. She said it did, indeed, help her to hear. Then she promptly took it off, wrapped it all up and put it back into the box. I asked her why she wasn't using it, and she said, "Well, I will when I can't hear, but I hear you just fine." Now, I was enjoying the thought that I might no longer have to scream at my grandmother to be heard, but apparently she enjoys that? I didn't say much, but she did say "Huh?" more than once afterward. I had delivered the device... there was very little more I could do or say.

The next day, my grandmother informed me that her device's "battery is dead." I explained that it really doesn't have a battery, per se. She said, "Well, my Home Health aides came, and they fiddled with it and left it turned on, and now the battery is dead." I told her that it should hold a charge ALL DAY... and something else must be wrong, but to plug the unit in like I showed her and let it charge overnight. She had a function to attend the next day, and I knew she would want the unit so she could hear. After several exchanges back and forth about WHERE to plug in the charger (she insisted it worked best in the earphone portal!), I gave up trying to explain - she insisted "It's working now!"

Two days later, we were at a baby shower, and Mam-ma was wearing her device, but she was not wearing the ear buds. She sat in a corner, appearing to be unable to hear much of what was said. When she got up to get refreshments, I said, "Mam-ma, put in your ear buds." She said in a loud, curt voice, "I can hear just fine!" I gave up! A very dear friend of ours who was there said, "You gave her the device... you've done your part... the rest is up to her." She was exactly right!

So I have no clue if my grandmother will enjoy the device as much as its original owner. I only know that we are limited in what we can accomplish... and I've done my best to help her to hear better. And that will have to do.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Errands, Parties and Bras... Never a Dull Moment!

This is the day I take my grandmother to the hairdresser and shop for her groceries. She called this a.m. to let me know she will be at a "party" at church, and I should pick her up there at 1:30 p.m. I told her that I would be glad to do that... we've done this before. Later she phoned again... "I forgot to tell you that I will be in a tacky garb - this is a 'Tacky Party!'" So I am to look for the tacky 96-year-old lady with the walker!
Meanwhile, the aunt of a dear cousin (by marriage) has fallen and broken her hip. She had been in the hospital and nursing home most of this year, but she was released to return to her home last week - with assistance and the caveat that she was at risk for a fall. She could just as easily have fallen in the nursing home, as my grandfather did, but this is still a hard pill to swallow. Surgery will be performed sometime today, hopefully.

So today's shopping includes looking for a bra for my grandmother. She called Monday and asked when we go back to see her cardiologist (in a city 30 miles to our east). I told her the 24th. She said, "Well my bras are just SHOT!" I told her I could look for one at Wal-Mart, and she screamed into the phone, "They don't have bras at Wal-Mart!" I told her that was funny, because I sometimes buy MY bras at Wal-Mart... and she said, "Well, I need Playtex Cross-Your-Heart." I told her Wal-Mart carries Playtex and I would look -- she said, "Well I always get these at Penneys." Now, we're not even talking an underwire here... but anyway, I told her we could certainly go to Penneys next week.

Then she asked, "Now when is it we go to the cardiologist?" I told her again, next Friday, the 24th. She said, "Oh, well...that's after my banquet." (This is the annual "widows banquet" at the First Baptist Church, given by the deacons for the widows in their care. I kid you not... they call it the Widow's Banquet! It is the highlight of my grandmother's year - dinner, entertainment, pampering... the works!) I asked when the banquet was, and she said the 23rd. Not thinking, I said, "Well we don't have to be at the doctor's until 11:00 a.m., so you shouldn't be too tired." It still didn't register with me until my Mom said later, "She's wanting that new bra for her banquet!" Well, DUH!

Anyway, then she says, "Well, if I could just get ONE good bra, I could probably make do with these other old things." I told her it is no problem to get her all the bras she wants! Sheesh!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Now on Facebook

The Deli now has a page on Facebook®! Please become a fan and invite your friends to do the same! Thanks!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Visit The Deli Zone at

I've set up a new Deli Zone at - you will find articles there that are similar to posts on this blog, but also some other thoughts and ideas. Please take a look!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Will This Be What I Remember?

My grandmother is 96, so anyone who "does the math" can see that clearly the clock is ticking. I am very well aware we are running out of time with her. But I am beginning to wonder what I will remember, as my grandmother goes ballistic over things like tennis balls on her walker and digging a flower in her yard. I pray that there will still be good memories to color the negative ones. Some days, I wonder...

My grandmother's yard is a smorgasboard of plants and flowers in an amazing variety of colors, shapes and sizes. She loves her flowers. Lately, however, she has talked about "giving away" some and dividing others. She complained that her big white jonquils didn't bloom well this year because they were too thick. So, when my friend Patricia asked if I knew where she could get some peonies, I assured her I did. I asked my grandmother if she would mind to share some peonies, and she readily said "Yes!" She added that she wanted us to take some other flowers, too... and to move a few for her.

I don't know why I try to do anything that involves Mam-ma. She seemed so tickled that someone wanted some of her flowers... and Patricia was thrilled to be getting peonies - her favorite flower. (Mam-ma calls them peONies!) So yesterday I called Mam-ma around noon and told her we were coming between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. I picked Patricia up about 3:15, and we drove to Mam-ma's. I told Patricia, "If I know Mam-ma, she is already in her yard with a shovel." Well, she wasn't - and only, I think, because her neighbor Faye had wandered over from across the street to visit. So, I asked Mam-ma if she could show us where the flowers were, and she came out to the garage. We had gloves, bags, a bucket, and I had a my husband's shovel. Mam-ma took one look at it and said, "That's not a shovel. You need this one." She handed me a shovel from her garage with an extra long spade. I told her that was fine and propped Greg's shovel against the wall.

We crossed her front yard to a fence row between her house and the neighbor's, and there was the peony. She had told me last week she no longer wanted that peony - that Patricia could have all of it. So I started to dig. I had to dig deeply, and I started making a trench around the plant...Mam-ma fussing the whole time that I wasn't doing it right. At one point, she said, "Give me that shovel." I nicely told her no, to just tell me what she wanted done. The plant was huge, and I pulled at one of the stalks to see where I was, and she nearly came unglued. "You're ruining it!" I told her I was not, that I had to try to get some leverage (and I didn't tell her it was that or break her shovel handle!) She grabbed for the shovel, and I would not let her have it... I mean she actually fought me for it (from her walker, no less!) - and she was so mad. I told her, "Mam-ma, we did NOT come over here for YOU to dig up the flowers."

Then Patricia and I tried to lift the ball of the plant out of the ground, and I told Patricia, "you really can't hurt these things," and Mam-ma said, "Oh yes you can... see, you've already just about ruined the whole damn thing!" This was because my shovel had cut through some of the roots. Remember that - it's important to what happened next!

So, Patricia and I lifted the whole thing out of the ground, leaving a huge hole, into which I was trying to spade dirt from that massive plant ball, along with some rocks that were around the plant before we dug into the ground. I mean, it left a gigantic hole! Mam-ma muttered something about fixing the plant, and Patricia was frantically pulling all of the grass out from around the stalks of the plant, and she asked Mam-ma, "Is that what you mean?" Mam-ma didn't answer her. I told her, "Mam-ma, just tell her what you want done." Patricia asked again, was she doing it right? Mam-ma didn't say anything. I told her again, "We'll be glad to do whatever... just tell her what you are wanting!" Mam-ma still just stood there. When Patricia was done, she said, "Was that what you wanted?" and Mam-ma said, "Yes."

Oh, by the way, Faye had wandered out to where we were standing, and when Mam-ma uttered her "damn," Faye went home!*lol*

THEN... Mam-ma said to Patricia, "Now if you will just take a real sharp knife and cut down the middle of that ball(right throught the roots she had cursed at me for cutting!), that's what you need to do." Patricia asked, "Oh, you mean divide the plant into two?" Mam-ma said yes, and Patricia said, "Well, Debbie, why don't you just cut through them with that shovel." One pass with the shovel, and I had divided the plant.

THEN... Mam-ma says, "Now I want you to take all them rocks and dirt out of that hole where you put 'em." I did, and then she said, "Now put half of that plant back in there." Patricia asked, "Oh, you want part of these flowers?" Mam-ma said yes. Soooooooo... three diggings of the hole, and putting the plant in and taking it out and digging deeper and so forth later... we had satisfactorily replanted half that "damn" peony! I don't even want to know what my blood pressure was by then.

After that, we circled the house, digging lilies, iris, a dogwood tree (tiny), another peony plant (also tiny), some lambs' ears and some oxalis. When we got back into the car to go, Patricia said, "She has absolutely NO patience!" I agreed and added, "and as you can see, I can do nothing right." She said, "Oh, I see that!" We laughed, but I was so embarrassed... for Mam-ma. Patricia said, "She seems very sweet... but very... crochety!" Sheesh! She's got that right!

I also told Patricia that, while we observed my grandmother go back inside her house, I'm almost certain after we were good and gone, she got back outside and got her shovel and worked on a few things.

So, get this... that night, while we're watching a movie, Mam-ma calls. I answered the phone, and she said, "See if this sounds like your buttermilk pie..." and she starts reading me a recipe. She saw that in the paper today and thought it sounded like the one I made the other night for a family dinner, and she might just try it... but it calls for a deep dish pie crust, and she doesn't have any. I offered to get one the next day, and she said, "Well, we'll see." Then she asks if I want to fool with using coupons on some of her grocery items tomorrow. When we hung up, Greg asked, "Did she call to apologize?" I told him no, and why she called... he just shook his head!

I don't mean to be ugly, but I am not putting myself in that situation again, which means I'm not taking her places where she can embarrass me or herself... and I am not taking friends over there again. A very dear friend of mine who is nearly 91 once told my mother, "In time, the bad memories will fade, and you won't remember much of it." I hope that is true... and I just hope I can still enjoy peONies after this...