Mom Keeps Busy With Food, Games, Puzzles And Chocolate


People wonder how my mom is doing since she moved to an assisted living place in the little town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin. She didn’t need to go, but my dad did, and she understandably wanted to be near him. Because dad needed more care, they were in separate buildings, but mom would trek over there several times a week, lugging a heavy satchel of books and newspapers. Then dad, an avid reader, would delve into the printed material, virtually ignoring mom. Old age is a perplexing thing.

“He says he wants to see me, but when I’m there, he just reads the paper,” she complained.

“But that’s his comfort zone, mom,” I tried to explain. “How many years did you two sit side-by-side in the den, with you knitting and him reading the paper?”

“I suppose,” she grumbled.

Well, dad’s gone now, and mom has embarked into her own comfort zone, a comfort zone I envy and will absolutely try to emulate someday. Her days revolve around games, puzzles and chocolate.

First of all, I must clarify that that is not all mom does. Mom also goes downstairs to eat. The assisted living place is very big on mealtimes. Menu choices are sent out just prior to the beginning of any month, the residents choose their favorites, and then the fun begins. Breakfast is from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Lunch is from noon to 1 p.m. Supper is from 5 to 6 p.m. Because Cedarburg is a suburb of Milwaukee, a drink cart with beer and wine shows up at 4 p.m. on Fridays. If the Packers are playing on Sunday, there is a buffet. Many of the residents sit outside the dining hall 45 minutes prior to mealtimes so they can claim a certain table. It takes them 15 minutes to get back to their rooms. So, you can see that their days are very full.

On the off chance that mom is not eating, going to eat or returning from eating, she delves into puzzles. She was very fortunate to get the apartment directly across from the puzzle table, and it serves as an auxiliary room for her. With very few exceptions, she chooses the puzzle, does the puzzle, decides how long to display the completed puzzle and then chooses the next puzzle, usually based on the time of year. Without thinking, I brought her a toy shop puzzle last January. That will be shelved until next Christmas.

If she doesn’t feel like sitting in the “ante-room,” she is back in her apartment, propped up in bed or sitting on her sofa with the day’s crossword puzzle or sudoku in hand. She has pretty much quit watching TV, not that she has to — the sound of nearby TVs blasts into the hallway.

“All I do is sit and eat chocolates,” she said. I don’t know if she’s complaining, bragging or angling for more chocolates. She described Easter this year not as a holy day on which I should be sure to go to church, but as “a good day to get candy.”

Whatever. She is my hero.