Snacks as self-care

13 Jan

On 18 July 2021 I wrote

I drive past the Galloway Smokehouse at Carsluith every time I go to visit Mum in hospital.

I lie.

Some days I don’t drive past, but stop in and see what snacks they might have for supper.

My brother and I knew from the outset that caring for Mum would be, as they say, an emotional rollercoaster. And it’s fair to say that it was. I hardly need to say that I’d known Mum all my life, so witnessing her slow decline each day, towards an inevitable death was almost impossible to bear.

But it was not by any stretch of the imagination unrelenting sadness and doom. Though most days one of us would cry, we looked after one another. Being in Galloway was a huge comfort in itself – the views would make my heart sing, the trees in the local woods bathed me with their dappled sunlight, but the shore was always the balm of choice for my soul. And even on days when I didn’t manage to get down to the sea, just knowing it was there, waiting, always there, was a comfort to me.

Our family has always found comfort in food, in eating well, in caring for one another through making something that nourishes their soul as well as their body. So, of course we were going to buy a lobster from the Galloway Smokehouse! And it was delicious, and only £12, if I remember right.

On the last day I drove the 84 miles round trip from Gatehouse to the hospital in Stranraer and back again, I also stopped off at the Antique Shop I’d driven past so many times. You can see its big sign on the side of a farm building from the main road, but essentially it is deep in the middle of nowhere.

It was one of the hottest days of the year (I know this for a fact, because one of my other projects that year was making a temperature blanket, so I recorded the highest and lowest temperature of each day for the whole year), and there was not a breath of wind. I’m not used to hot weather and don’t actually like it very much, so it was sweet relief to head into the cool byres and rummage about in the piles of musty furniture and random stuff. It was fairly inevitable that I’d come away having bought something, but who would have predicted the vintage jelly mould? Eighteen months on, I’m still to get into the jelly-making habit (not helped by the jelly mould being stored in Mum’s larder, while I live 100 miles away). But there’s time, there’s always time. Until there isn’t, of course.

As I write this I’m about to set off to see Mum. It’s a 200 mile round trip these days, but I do it so willingly and with joy in my heart at knowing I’ll see her when I get there. When I arrive in her room, with my arms open wide with joy, I greet her with “Hello Mum… it’s me…. Loïs”. I started doing this instinctively at a point when she found it increasingly difficult to find the words she wanted, and that could include a person’s name. And, although this is a kind thing to do for someone with dementia, I realise it is a kindness to do it in all sorts of situations (though post pandemic I don’t find myself in those network type situations any more, so perhaps I will never put this into practice).

I know that I won’t always look forward to seeing Mum, there will be times when it is more than I can bear to see her so changed from that vibrant, confident Mum we all knew – and over the last 18 months there have been times when I have almost dreaded visits. But I seem to have found a zen spot that works for me at the moment. If she is alert we can have a limited conversation, and there are usually smiles somewhere along the line. And if she isn’t, if all she can manage is to vaguely flicker her eyelids open and then go back to snoozing, then I can sit quietly knitting or embroidering for a while. I occasionally read a section of her memoir to her, or just talk to her about things she’s told me about her childhood. We often will make sure she has a lucky stone to hold, and I tell her how lucky that stone is to be held in her hand, how lucky I have been in my life to have been held by her, my favourite mother.

***

Finally, if you want to catch up on how we got to this point, this series of posts starts here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; meanwhile her memories were being thrown around like so many pieces of jigsaw in a big box.

Not in the mood for this? That’s ok. But if you feel like a bit of cooking or baking, perhaps making Energy Bars, then you could check out my recipes here. This blog started out as recipes, sometimes accompanied by wee stories, so I’ve got a back catalogue of tasty things to make. Do let me know if you’d like me to add more recipes in the future – I had an ambition to make a carers cookbook a couple of years ago… perhaps some day.

One Response to “Snacks as self-care”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Taking Smock of the Situation | Shewolfinthevalley - January 14, 2023

    […] Snacks as Self Care […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: