Working with disability as I do, I know that one of the biggest issues in the field is the shockingly low pay that aides and attendants get for the work they do in caring for the elderly and disabled.
Today my grandmother made me realize a whoooole part of the picture I hadn't seen before. She's 85-ish years old, but really hasn't seemed "old" until the past year or two. If you have a traditional Italian or Jewish grandmother, you've pretty much met her. If not, here's the deal - she passionately loves her family, was a terrific cook, talks a lot, and believes that the Youth of Today ("youth" being anyone under 45) really needs a good finger-wagging and talking-to. Finger-wagging will make someone realize that they really don't need heroin, that they nobody's getting any younger so they might as well marry that nice boy, and that only members of the Clean Plate Club go to heaven.
Our weekly chat this morning, which focused on her somewhat-recent move into Assisted Living, went like this....
Me: So you're still happy in the new apartment?
Grandmother: Oh, yes. Everyone here is so nice. All you have to do is call and ask for something, and they take care of it.
Grandmother: The aides are all young, you know. They really like having older folks around, with our wisdom and experience. They love my advice.
Grandmother: Oh, yes! They used to ask me for it, but now I just go ahead and give it to them instead of playing that little game where I wait for them to ask, which I know they're going to do. Like yesterday, one of the young ladies came in and she had been tanning. I showed her all the spots I have from being out in the sun too much and told her she needs to wear a hat. And since we were talking anyway, I told her, "you have on too much makeup."
Grandmother: Well, someone had to tell her. She thanked me several times.
Methinks someone has stopped recognizing sarcasm, or doesn't realize there are angels in her midst. I hope it's the latter, and God bless them.
Years ago my grandmother sent me home with a loaf of her pumpkin bread. Living alone at the time, I brought it into the office to share. My manager wasn't willing to wait for the mail for the recipe (this was before e-mail); she made me call that afternoon, from the office, and write down the recipe as read by my grandmother.
A full cup of oil ("NOT olive", she specified in the recipe) is a LOT, even though this makes three loaves. I cut it down to 3/4 cup with no ill effect. In her own words, here 'tis.
Irene's Famous Pumpkin Bread
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups pumpkin
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. PAM three loaf pans. Bake 350 degrees, 45 minutes to one hour.
There it is. That's the whole thing. It really is terrific and it freezes well. And if I'd found this in a cookbook I would never have made it, given the 4 eggs and 3 cups of sugar. But then again, my grandmother has been in specactularly good health for most of her life so what do I know?
Maybe I need a good finger-wagging.