Senior Happy Meals

happy old guy
Not one of my in-laws

My in-laws, both in their seventies, don’t eat all that well. Part of the issue is cultural, both of them having been brought up where if it wasn’t fried, it wasn’t food, but part of it is age-related. Knocking together a salad or a pot of pasta or somesuch, a simple task when you’re 30 or 50, can become a major ordeal for the older person. My mother, 94 years old, struggles with opening jars and lifting some bowls, even when they’re empty. A story on NPR recently brought this nutritional challenge to my mind.

A healthy diet is good for everyone. But as people get older, cooking nutritious food can become difficult and sometimes physically impossible. A pot of soup can be too heavy to lift. And there’s all that time standing on your feet. It’s one of the reasons that people move into assisted living facilities.

The story revolved around a company that sends chefs into senior’s homes to cook a week worth of meals for them. Having listened while driving, I didn’t have pen and paper at hand, but the cash flow of this business didn’t seem to make sense. If I’m figuring it right, these chefs are bringing in a whopping $360 a week on average. Presumably they have a restaurant job to rely on.

But since Chefs for Seniors has not made it to most cities around the country, the great senior nutrition challenge falls to the seniors themselves or their friends and families.

What a great service a church or just a good neighbor could do by ensuring that not only do healthy groceries make it into the house but that those foods are prepared or accessible. What does that mean? Perhaps it means pre-packaging some meals that can be popped into the microwave. Maybe it involves cutting up produce. It might simply require putting some pickles or other jar-dwelling food into something easier to open.

When Jesus said “Feed my sheep,” He did not mean primarily to feed them food, but I’m fairly certain that He didn’t intend to neglect that. Preparing healthy food for those who struggle to do it themselves might not lengthen their lives but it will surely improve their lives and bless you at the same time.

Funny Place to Park

Penny had a conversation with her friend Monica this morning. I can hardly expect to plumb the depths of female-to-female conversation, but I do know that this conversation wound up with Penny inviting Monica to come over.

“But don’t try to drive up our hill,” Penny warned Monica.

“Is it really that bad?” Monica asked. Keep in mind that Monica drives a full-size van. In other words, she has a big box full of nothing sitting over her drive wheels. Our hill seems to be just about ready to vanquish freshly re-tired front-wheel-drives. Monica’s van on its baldies truly had no chance. She made it half way up the hill and then apparently drove sideways, miring herself on the left side of the driveway at some bizarre angle, pretty effectively blocking the road.

We tried dumping kitty litter and ice melt all over the place. We tried pushing with as many as four stout lads. We pushed up and down the hill. Nothing helped. Finally, we managed to back down the hill a bit, enough to get the van parallel to the driveway, clearing the way.

I tried hooking up Moby Dick, my great white whale of a pickup to the van and towing ever so carefully down the hill. We couldn’t get the beast to move out into the driveway and ran the risk of dumping it into a fairly scary ditch. We stopped. Eventually, I decided to let Monica’s husband destroy his own vehicle.

Part of me wanted to be angry with Monica for finding that funny parking spot. Because of her refusal to listen to Penny’s warning, I had to park my car way down the hill and spend over an hour trying vainly to get her out of the pits. Yeah, I wanted to be angry, but I couldn’t really do it.

You see, as stupid as her attempt to drive that big box of nothing up the hill was, I know I’m fairly likely to attempt something even stupider next week. Far too much of our lives are dedicated to ascribing blame for all sorts of stupid things that happen. Wouldn’t it be nice if we managed to instead commit ourselves to get all the stupid things sorted out. I can help you sort out your stupidity and you help me sort out mine.

What a great possibility. Rather than pointing fingers, we join hands and help stamp out stupidity. I think the idea has merit.