One of the weekly treats I like to bring my brother-in-law, who is almost done in the rehab center, is a cheese steak. For some reason, this small gesture makes him enormously happy. He eats every single morsel and makes me pick up the remains with a fork so he doesn’t miss a bit. He’s become mildly obsessed with his food choices. This makes a lot of sense as it’s about the only choices he actually has on a daily basis.
If I wore a hospital gown every day, no shoes, didn’t go anywhere and could only choose my TV programs, I, too would be fanatically choosing my meals every day. So I try to be understanding when it takes hours to go through the menu to pick his meals. I’m so understanding that I turned that job over to my mother. She meticulously goes through every single appetizer, main course, including condiments, right down to the amount of salt, pepper and sugar to bring with each meal, dessert and beverages. Then she makes a copy to leave with my brother-in-law so he can check to see what he’s having or if they brought what he actually ordered.
I find this OCD behavior over food and menus daunting. Probably because I’m on a diet. Or maybe because ever since my babies grew up, I’ve become Attila the Hun about having to worry about any body else’s food. And yet, as my mother and I were visiting him the other day the aide brought him a grilled cheese sandwich for his lunch.
The looks of horror on all our faces told her she was not leaving that room unscathed, because we had just finished this conversation:
Brother-in-Law: “What am I having for lunch, today?”
Mom:”I don’t know, let me look at your copy of the menu. So you chose a hot dog and a cheeseburger for today.”
Me: “Oh you’re having your own summer picnic!”
With that the grilled cheese sandwich arrives. This poor girl is accosted by all three of us with a resounding chorus of “Noooooooooooo!” like she had finally brought the hemlock as we had all suspected.
Now I’m trying to figure out how ‘hot dog’ and ‘cheeseburger’ looks like ‘grilled cheese’ on a pre-printed menu. But I still want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. As I go to look at the menu, my brother-in-law starts to eat his grilled cheese.
“I might as well eat some of this, who knows how long it will take,” he mumbles through bites.
He eats half the sandwich, half the ice cream sundae, which he did order and it is now melting, and lo and behold the hot dog and hamburger arrive sans condiments. We take care of THAT catastrophe and all is well in the land of lunch.
By the way, I finally got my hands on that menu….there was no grilled cheese sandwich as a choice anywhere on any day for this entire week. I imagine the people in the kitchen saying things like:
“Oh we ran out of hot dogs, these people won’t notice a grilled cheese instead. I hope they’re not lactose intolerant.” Or any other kind of intolerant.
“You Just have to Laugh….”