Dining with Miss Lil: Caring For the Elders That Once Cared for Us

November 19, 2013

Daddy_n_JJ_at_JHS_GraduationBy Lil Nickelson

Have you been blessed to have loved ones to live to be 70 years old or older?  If so, somewhere in between the late 70s and beyond our roles begin reversing and you will be given the opportunity to care for the elders who once cared for you.  One of the big ways that you can make a difference is by making sure they are eating right.

For example, when I go to visit an elder in their 70s, I bring groceries so that they don’t have to deal with the hassles of shopping and struggling to bring the groceries home.  I like to take fresh fish, fruits and vegetables one time, and the next time I’ll bring staples like coffee, tea, and sugar.  I might even bake a cake or pie and surprise them with that.  My Dad (photo above) used to love it when I would surprise him with a lemon meringue pie I baked just because he liked it.  If they are filling a little under the weather I will make and take them some chicken soup.

When they get into their 80s and beyond instead of bringing food for them to fix for their self, I bring cooked meals so they only have to heat it up.  My Mother passed away at 54 years old however her mother, Mrs. Lola Jackson lived for 29 more years after she did.  Grandma was three months past her 93rd birthday when she died in 2003.  My father, the late James Broxton was two months shy of his 94th birthday when he died in 2007.

After my Mom died, Grandma, my sisters and I starting cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  One of my sisters would cook the ham, I cooked the side dishes while Grandma made the turkey and pies, and we feasted at my Dad’s apartment.  My oldest sister died five years after Mommy and my younger sister relocated to Savannah, GA three years after that so Grandma and I did all the cooking.  By the time Grandma reached her late 70s arthritis started getting the best of her hands and she asked me to come over to peel the apples for the pies.

As I peeled the apples Grandma was preparing the turkey.  When she almost dropped the stuffed turkey as she was putting it in the oven, I realized I needed to step up and do more to continue this family tradition.  From that point on I took a week’s vacation the week before Thanksgiving, and Grandma and I shopped, cooked and just had a grand old time bonding in the kitchen.  We did the same thing for Christmas dinner as well the years that we didn’t go to my sister’s house in Savannah.

For the new century I started working on my personal relationship with God and started attending worship services with my Grandmother each Sunday.  I would ride home with her and the other mothers in the church van and have dinner with her.  It pleased her so much that I became active at our church, as she referred to it.  I can’t tell you how much I learned about my grandmother during these years; they were priceless.  It warmed my heart when Aunt Boots (her baby sister) wrote me note after she passed to say that she believed these years we shared extended Grandma’s life.

When she passed my Dad got me to start cooking all of the holiday meals in his apartment.  He said he loved having his home filled with the scent of the family meal to come.  He’d sneak a taste of the cornbread stuffing before I stuffed the bird and get some more of it and the collard greens to sample once they were done; quality control he called it.  The tradition continued until my Dad passed in 2007; I still cook for the holidays but it’s not the same.

So now I lavish my love of cooking on some of my elder church family members, and friends of my parents and grandmother.  I call them when it’s real hot outside to ask are they drinking enough water or if they are staying cool.  In the winter when the weather is bad I will call to see if they need some groceries from the store, and will offer to pick them up and bring it to them.  I recently saw a sign on the bus that said that October 1st was Elder Care Day and laughed because to me everyday you are blessed to have them should be so.

What about you?

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