When I was about 20, my parents were departing on some trip (they traveled a lot) and at breakfast my father looked at me and said, "Judy, if anything happens to us, you will take care of Jenny, won't you?" Jenny is my cousin in Canada, maybe three or four years older, bipolar though I've never known the actual diagnosis. At the time, all I could think was "Nothing can happen to my parents!" But now all these years, his words come back to haunt me. I have not seen Jenny since I was about 14, and we spent some time together at my aunt's cabin on the lake the family had called home for years. But my aunt declined and was no longer able to take care of Jenny (and has since died), so for the last three or four years, I have had power of attorney and managed Jenny's affairs. She is in a provincial nursing home, where they seem to love her quirky personality and put up with her neediness. Yesterday I had to cancel her daily companion--it was costing more than Jenny's pensions bring in. And her trust funds are dwindling (though in provincial nursing homes, they take care of you no matter what). She has been diagnosed with breast cancer--thank heaven for Canada's socialized medicine. But still I am trying to be a responsible steward--and it's hard long distance. I cannot understand Jenny on the phone, so I have given up on phone calls. Occasionally she dictates a notes to someone to send to me. Both the companion and the nursing home staff member who is my contact have told me how often Jenny talks about her dear, dear cousin Judy, asks about my children, etc. So today I sent her a copy of my cookbook/memoir, with its pictures of the children and grandchildren. And I resolve to write to her more often. I've just been absorbed in counting the pennies and ignored the human factor, and I'm a bit ashamed.
Meanwhile, for those who are following my cat report: Wywy is better today, sleeping on my desk, etc., begging for food--but not eating. So this morning I bought a can of whitefish in tuna sauce cat food (I know tuna is the worse thing for an older male cat with even mild kidney disorder, but . . . .) and I bought cottage cheese, which I know she loves (but I'm afraid will give her diarrhea). She is scarfing them down, so I've lost all my cat food principles. I'm going to start trying to mix in the kidney diet food gradually. This is the fourth day since her traumatic visit to the "spa."
Tonight Jeannie and Betty and I had dinner at Betty's Star Cafe. Jeannie and I split chicken fried steak (who could eat a whole one?) and I was stuffed, could barely touch the mashed potatoes with cream gravy that I had longed for. Thoroughly fun, though I'm full and feel like I've fallen off the calorie wagon.