My Dad’s a Goldfish – war of nutrition continued

After a sleepless night, I went up to make breakfast for the Goldfish, who was already sitting at the kitchen table. Step-monster said she wasn’t going to allow it – she was perfectly capable and she was going to make his breakfast.

I pointed out she’d agreed yesterday but she shrugged and said: “I’ve changed my mind.”
I wasn’t prepared to argue with her in front of the Goldfish who was beginning to look upset and went into the living room. I phoned DH whose advice was to repeat what we agreed and persuade her that this was how it has to be in order to make sure the Goldfish had enough to eat.

She came through to the living room leaving the Goldfish eating breakfast cereal and battle commenced. It was like talking to someone whose head is stuffed with cotton wool. My words just vanished, not understood, possibly not even heard. She accepted the Goldfish had lost a lot of weight but not the reason for it, still maintaining ‘he eats very well.’
We were getting nowhere. Finally, I said: “Social services have it on record the Goldfish is a vulnerable adult at risk. If you won’t accept Wee-sis and I preparing the meals it could mean going to court. Surely you don’t want that.”

“Oh, well,” she said, “you do as you think best. But, you know, your dad won’t live forever.”

“Yes, I do know that, but while he’s still with us he deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and be provided with good food in appropriate quantities.”

She said she does treat him with respect and dignity. Oh, yeah, making him pee in a bucket is so dignified.

And so a whole new phase of my life begins with the goal of fattening up the Goldfish. He does enjoy his food and usually has two Weetabix with a banana and whole milk plus a slice of toast with butter and honey for his breakfast. At lunchtime it’s homemade soup and a sandwich – Wee-sis made him macaroni cheese the other day, which he enjoyed – and in the evening it’s meat and two veg. He loves mince and tatties.

You can't beat a plate of Scottish mince and tatties

You can’t beat a plate of Scottish mince and tatties

At first, whatever we put in front of him, though, elicited the same conditioned response: “Oh, goodness, what a plateful. I can’t eat all that.”

“That’s okay. Eat however much you want. You don’t have to eat it all.” He then scrapes the plate clean. If I ask him if he’d like any more he says no, he’s had plenty. If I say, there’s a wee bit left in the pot, could you finish it up? He is happy to oblige, before devouring a pudding.

I am so angry but there is nowhere for the anger to go because the step-monster blanks everything she doesn’t want to hear. She is worried to death about what this feeding business is costing! I really think her obsession with thrift is becoming an illness but her family are not picking up on it and just seem to see this sweet old lady – and totally ignore the fact she was starving my father. I believe she is showing signs of dementia and her need to save money has become an illness. Everything she buys is the cheapest the supermarket has on offer. She haunts the reduced price section. She is terrified we’re going to present her with a bill for the food we are supplying. However, I have the money from the sale of dad’s car and we’re using that for now. If it is the beginnings of dementia, I should feel compassion for her – but I can’t.

I’m not sleeping well. I absolutely hate walking into the Goldfish’s house not knowing what the step-monster is going to be like. Sometimes, I find the Goldfish sitting in the living room on his own and she’s nowhere to be seen. She hides out in her ‘study’ either on her computer or watching television. Although we have offered to bring enough food for them both, she refuses point blank to eat with him at lunch time or in the evening, which he finds very confusing and upsetting.

I’m so tired though, with all the planning and cooking and sorting out the rota with Wee-sis. It’s a tough gig, this, but we are getting into a routine. One day I’m on breakfast, and either Wee-sis does lunch or I take the Goldfish out and she does the evening meal. Sometimes the DH does a turn, which gives us a break. Tomorrow I am on for breakfast then I’m going to take him out for lunch and I hope DH will do the evening meal. Next day, Wee-sis does breakfast, and I’m on lunch and evening meal. The day the Goldfish is at day centre we don’t have to prepare and take his lunch – gives us time to cook! We’re both batch cooking and freezing meals to try to save some time.

We are keeping a food diary for the dietician. The Goldfish seems stronger and better physically and definitely putting on weight. Although he is a bit more alert mentally as his brain is now getting some nourishment, he will never recover the level it was before the starvation. Will top him up with vitamins.

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14 thoughts on “My Dad’s a Goldfish – war of nutrition continued

  1. Oh wow, this reminds me so much of when I cared for my grandmother-in-law. Lunch was always soup and a sandwich. I would wheel her hospital cart in and she would look at it and exclaim, “This is too much food! You want to make me fat!” Every darn day, lol… Meanwhile, she was 100 lbs, and TALL!
    I’m enjoying reading this blog Mary. You are an excellent daughter!

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    • Thanks April. I hope you have some good memories of your grandmother-in-law. I don’t feel much like an excellent daughter and I have to admit to feeling a bit resentful about what’s happened to my life. But, when the weight started to go on it was worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do have a lot of good memories and I totally get the resentful thing. I had breaks, you don’t. If I was 24/7 with her I can’t imagine how overwhelming that would feel, especially when you are having to fend off family members too…. I once nearly got into a fist fight with one of my grandmother-in-law’s sister who took a VERY HOT curling iron to her head in a sad attempt to curl her hair. I wasn’t having ANY of that! I heard one “ow” and that was it! LOL

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lesley, Good title! It’s heartbreaking and makes me so angry as well because the monster inflicted a lot of damage. However, when I see him tucking into his food and gaining weight, it is worth the work.

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      • The anger is understandable but it IS worth it and he’s worth it. When your dad is no longer here you will be glad you did what you could, when you could. At the time it’s like a nightmare that seems to go on and on but when I look back now, it wasn’t really so very long that I had to care for my dad. I find myself wishing I had done more but I’m glad I was there when I could be and believe that he had a sense that it mattered, that he mattered.

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  2. I know you and wee-sis are dead against residential care, but am wondering on the basis of your increasingly alarming posts about Step-Monster’s mistreatment of your dad whether he would be better off there – at least you could know he was safe and not being deliberately starved…

    You two sound wonderful daughters, but this level of visitation and meal provision surely can’t be sustainable long-term, and the times you are not there he is still at Step-Monster’s mercy…

    I also agree with previous comments that – consciously or subconsciously (and I hope the latter, for all your sakes) she is trying to “hasten the end” by having him lose weight and therefore be more prone to physical illness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comments, DementedGirl. What’s been so good about this blog and the comments from others is that I feel I’m not imagining how awful the step-monster’s behaviour is. There have been times when I’ve found myself thinking I must be wrong about her but when I write down what has been happening and others respond as you have then I know she really is a bit of a monster.
      We live in a rural part of Scotland and to be honest I would aboslutely hate to see my dad in any of the residential homes here. Now Wee-sis and i are more involved (and how I wish we’d stepped in sooner) we are in a better position to do things to help dad.

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      • I want to add a postscript to that because it makes it sounds as if all care homes in rural Scotland are bad and I don’t mean that. As we live in such a small community we hear about what goes on in the homes around here – and dad’s not going to any of them.

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