Wednesday, October 5, 2011


“I’m going to go have a smoke, because I’m mad.”

So finally, I tell you about Bessie. Becoming a live-in caregiver, or companion, was not the career move I had in mind, but it’s the door that opened. The door being of the trap variety, it opened, and I just sort of fell through. Life is like that.

Bessie is 95 and has lived through a great deal of change in her lifetime. No electricity, unpaved roads, riding a horse out to the field to take lunch to her father with a gallon of boiling hot coffee, churning butter, riding a horse to school in the snow and her feet getting so cold they hurt. Now she lives in a modest house in town, has electricity, a microwave, running water, a furnace that turns on automatically, pizza can be brought in from the pizzeria, and coffee percolates by simply plugging in the pot (though I admit the coffee pot is still old fashioned by most standards.) It is incredibly amazing and really just makes history come alive and seem not so very far in the past.

I’m off for a couple days, but she was sleeping a lot better before I left and I hope that is a trend that continues when I return. Getting up three or four times during the night is a lot. I signed up to be a caregiver, not a mother. :)

So far I have found Bessie to be very sweet, at times hilarious (to me), but I have seen a feisty side to her too. I wasn’t there, but I hear tell she threw a cookie at one of her daughters recently. I was there when she was complaining about her awful doctor that had prescribed nausea medication, which she didn’t need because her stomach was fine and if it was upset, it was all his fault because “he’d make a maggot puke.”

On Monday before I left, her oldest daughter was over visiting and helping in the garden, or trying to help as the case might be. Bessie was becoming more and more convinced she didn’t have a clue what she was doing.“Poor girl,” she said sadly of her seventy year old daughter.

While Bessie and I ate lunch, Janet, who had declined a meal took one of the Jam Thumbprints I had baked the day before and which Bessie had informed her earlier weren’t very good, “so we had to eat them all.” And she said it with a straight face too. But Janet ate one of the two remaining cookies and told me they were very good and said to her mother, “no wonder you ate them all.”

Her mother looked at her and asked, “Do you want another one?”

“No, this one’s fine.”

“Then shut up.”

I think the whole gardening situation had made Bessie less patient.

So far I haven’t got into trouble with Bessie, and I’m hoping it remains that way. It was a little hard on Bessie in the beginning not being used to people in her house, but now I think she’s adjusted to us and likes the company and security that our presence brings. (One of my sisters is trading off with me.)

One time late at night, or early in the morning, Bessie told me I was an angel. And the other day when I was helping her to her “smoking bench” she told me that my little hands were such a comfort to her. I’m pretty certain that she said little, which considering I’m not exactly a petite person, would have been figurative.

Sunday afternoon she did tell me not to bother her, but she didn’t mean it. She was feeling blue and she was trying to tell me not to be bothered if she was crying. I knew what she meant, even before she corrected herself. That’s okay, I told a lobbyist the same thing once. I had meant to say, “don’t mind us,” but it just didn’t quite come out right.

I have noticed Bessie and I are a lot alike in many ways. I haven’t thrown a cookie at anybody yet, but when I’m ninety-five, I might take the liberty. Consider yourselves sufficiently warned.

Pleasant lives to you,


1 comment:

Hannah Moss said...

Huh. Sounds like one of those constantly-interesting-experiences-jobs. Very much enjoyed reading this post. :)