Slice of Normal

Cooking with a son, playing dinosaurs with a grandbaby, she sees light at the tunnel’s end.

Fran LoBiondo
by Fran LoBiondo

My life is turning for the better this week, I believe. We’ve been informed that Greg’s Saturday respite program is ready to open. Not this week, and maybe not the next, but soon. It will not be the same as it was before the coronavirus shut everything down and Greg’s routine was decimated. But he so wants to go back.

We have prayed for a respite from the rules to contain the virus, and now that the end is near, we feel like we can breathe.

Before things shut down, I packed a lunch for Greg five days a week. Lately, on Friday mornings, he’s been asking for five bags of Goldfish crackers, because that’s what he got every day when his daily program was open. I haven’t packed his lunch bags yet, but when I do, I will feel like it’s his first day of school.

We have cooked together a lot during these indoor days, and he has helped me with all aspects of the meal, such as reminding me of spices I forgot, stirring and tasting, and rinsing and drying the dishes.

Sometimes I catch him taking a slug from the vanilla extract, but I can’t blame him, I think that stuff is high in alcohol. I believe cooking should be fun.

I am surely going to miss my helper.

Lately he asks for a waffle for breakfast. It has been decades since he asked for that, and there was a time when he asked for one every day, and I made it.

Now I remember why I stopped. It’s a mess, and you must wipe down the waffle grill every day, because he always puts too much batter in it, and there’s a big lava flow onto the machine and the counter.

In the interest of teaching him life skills, I have calmly showed him how to mix his own batter and pour it onto the heated grill. Cleaning it with a sponge is more challenging, though, and that’s why he puts it away in the cabinet before I can see it’s still smoking, and the crust is drying all over the outside. He’s no dummy. He knows that I won’t let him put it away dirty.

There will come a day when his program opens, and there will be no waffle time before the bus comes.

That will be a fine day, indeed.

We had a fly-in visit from our Brooklyn family last Sunday—George and Kaitlin and our grandson, Ben. They just came for the day. Therese is away at college, and Ben is a handful and his parents were tired, so I felt like I should occupy Ben for as long as I could.

When he came through the door, he looked like he wanted some fun, so I gave him the obligatory kiss and hug, and then I roared like his friend T-rex and ran away. He caught on quick, and almost caught up to me, but I did a U-turn and smoked right by him. When we met halfway around, I howled like a sharp-toothed ancient dinosaur and made a fierce and menacing face. He stopped, laughing, but looking terrified, like maybe I was a Jurassic giant looking for a snack.

He took off. We were like the Roadrunner, speeding away in a cloud of dust, and Wyle E. Coyote in hot pursuit.

Just before I collapsed from exhaustion, Kaitlin called Ben into the kitchen for a bagel and some chocolate milk. He veered off toward the food, and I caught my breath, contemplating a small nap. It was not long before he came back and, grabbed my hand. “Come on, Nonnie let’s play!” And he led me to the living room, where he dumped a huge basket of toys on the floor.

Time flies when you’re playing dinosaurs.

I also look forward to getting back to the gym for exercise. I have lost some weight over the shutdown months, and as my body shrinks, so does the muscle mass. I may look thin, but everything jiggles when I move. That can’t be good for anyone.

The restaurants are opening their dining rooms for limited seating, which hasn’t kept people from lining up outside waiting for a table.

Last weekend we took a chance on a brand-new restaurant that had a short wait, and we enjoyed our selections from their varied menu. In other words, they served chicken tenders and fries, Greg’s favorite meal. I call that a success!

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Life Sentences