Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Death by Vitamins

It was a wonderful day.  My daughter and granddaughter were visiting from Arizona and we had a big day planned- the Varsity and Atlanta Zoo.  Katie specifically wanted to see the gorillas.

I remember when I was a young girl. Our family visited the Atlanta Zoo to see the famous "Willie B." He was the main attraction. I would line up for the primates building hoping the star of the zoo would be inside his cage so I could make a picture.  On one occasion he was very funny sitting on a tire swing eating a banana, swinging back and forth watching everyone looking at him.  I’m not sure who was most entertained him or us!

It’s been years since my last visit to the zoo. Of course, as a grandparent, I'd do anything for my darling granddaughter- this includes the urgent business of smelly animals.  So... I was up early getting ready for the day.  Our special guests were on west coast time (THREE hours earlier) which meant they were still sleeping in our upstairs loft.  I was trying to be as quiet as a mouse.

Mother woke up and came out for breakfast. 

I quietly prepared Mother’s apple-bran muffin with peaches and a glass of milk. 

I said the blessing very softly (I didn’t want to wake them).

After she had sat staring for a while I whispered, “Mother, eat your breakfast so we can get ready.”

She looked at me and said, “What? I can’t hear you!”

I whispered a little louder, “Eat your breakfast.  We need to get ready to go.”

She slowly began eating her breakfast.  Then she looked around the room.

“Where are they?”

“Up there.”  I pointed to the upstairs.

“We have an upstairs?!!!”


“What’s up there???”

"Everything they need.  Just please eat your breakfast so we can go to the Zoo.”

“The ZOO?!?”, she yelled.

“Yes!  You know the place you can see the lions, elephants, gorillas and all the animals God made.”

“Why are we going there????”

“Because Katie has never seen gorillas up close and personal and she’s interested in Zoology." 

“What’s that?”

“Mother, don’t worry about it."  I whispered in her ear, "Eat your muffin.”

 “WHAT???? I can’t hear you!”  She looked at me like I was crazy.

I looked at her and made a gesture like I was eating. (....imaginary spoon going to my mouth)

“WHAT are you doing???”, she said loudly.

“I’m trying to show you how to eat your breakfast!”


“We can’t go until you, EAT YOUR BREAKFAST!!”, I shouted (in a whisper).

Mother finally finished her muffin and I removed her bowl.  Next was a cup of prune juice.  I call it her fruit coffee.  I can’t put everything on the table at once because it’s too confusing.  Next her pills took "center stage".  I put all ten of them in a little glass bowl with a glass of water. 

“Take your pills and you’ll be ready to go.”

"That's too many pills."

“No it’s not!  You take ten pills every day.”

“This is more than ten pills!  This looks like a hundred.  This could kill me.”

“Mother, don’t be ridiculous.  Take your pills!”  (Whispering over.) 

I had to make sure she took those pills.  Lately strange things have been happening. I find pills on the floor that she has "dropped". So I constantly check for "runaways". One day, she poured her glass of water into the bowl of pills and all the pills turned into little water colors.  She was stirring all the pills with her finger.  I wasn’t sure whether she should drink all ten at once or throw them into the sink and start over.  Another time she had one pill on her tongue for hours.  She said she didn’t know what to do with it.  She suddenly took it out of her month and gave it to me. I looked with horror at the stubborn little vitamin that had been hiding in her mouth for who knows how long. Ugh.

At this point, I decided to employee a "method".  I took a few pills in my hand and said, “Open your mouth and swallow just these three pills.”

“I told you, I’m not taking those pills!!!  I’ll die!”

“You’ll die if you DON'T take the pills!”

“Mother, these pills are keeping you alive!”

“No they’re not!”

“Yes they are!” 

Thank goodness, my sweet granddaughter came down the stairs.  Now I had reinforcements. 

“Good Morning Mama Shockley!”

Mother smiled broadly and they hugged.

“Katie, Mother won’t take her pills."

“Those pills will kill me.”

“No Mama Shockley.  They are "little helpers" that will keep you alive!”

Mother looked at the pills and said, “They don’t look like 'helpers' to me.”

“Katie, will you be a witness if I die.”

This is what Mother actually takes.

This is what Mother sees (I think).

“Yes Mama Shockley.  I’ll be a witness.”

Slowly...very slowly.... Mother started taking her pills- one at a time.  Her hand trembled as she picked up each pill.  You'd think each pill weighed about fifty pounds.  Finally.... the last pill was "down the hatch".

“Mother, open your mouth. I want to make sure nothing is hiding."

She opened her mouth.  The house was empty.   

An hour later she was still alive and we were on our way to the Varsity to have a chili dog and onion rings.  (Now that WILL kill you!)

Later that night I was thinking how Mother didn’t trust me with her pills. Didn’t she know that I’m her caregiver? I love her and I would only do what’s best for her.  If she can’t trust me, who can she trust?  Then God reminded me of the times that I haven’t trusted Him to take care of me.  He’s my Caregiver and He loves me and He always does what’s best for me. If I can’t trust God who can I trust? 

How about you, dear caregiver? Are you trusting your Heavenly Father to take care of you as you care for someone else?  He will guide you and care for you each day.  Trust Him and take one day at a time.  

Thanks for joining me on my journey. We need each other for encouragement.  I LOVE reading your comments!

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143: 8.



  1. Awesome. I really laughed.

  2. I was rolling with laughter....Carol you are so good with words. Get a little pill crusher. crush everyone that you can and then either with a spoonful of honey or applesauce it will be over. It becomes hard for them to swollow. Would love to come see you at your home and meet mother.

  3. Anonymous...and Anonymous....
    Thank you for reading! I will definitely try crushing the pills....great idea. Come and see me anytime!

  4. Another great one! Love you sooo much!

  5. I can't decide which I like best, the hilarious dialogue between you and your mother or the heartwarming inspirational words that sum up your writing. Great post!

    I have actually heard Katie talk about her own "helper pills". She's such a sweet spirit. I'm sure your mother was comforted by her very presence.

  6. Crystal, How right you are. Katie has been my nurse and aid all week. Always smiling. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words.