Pearl has lived with us since she was 93. She is 99 now. Go ahead, ask her how old she is, she will say 60. At 62, I am now older than she is. Does this mean I can now be the boss of her?
She was still living alone before she came to us, and for years she stayed by herself while we worked all day. We made sure she had meals and snacks at hand, but she did fine on her own for a few years. She was with us to see to her meals and laundry and make sure she was well.
Now there is no longer any chance that we can leave her alone for any period of time. Even to work in the yard. We explain what we are doing even if only one of us is leaving. While doing yard work we try to coax her out to watch. She may come out but not for very long, it is just as easy to watch us from the window. That requires us to continuously come inside to check on her.
The last time we left her she said, ”But what will I eat?” That should have been a red flag to us. We answered, ”You just ate dinner. It will be time for bed soon. Go on when you are ready, and we will talk to you in a couple of hours.”
I guess she had gotten the idea that we weren’t coming back, because when we returned home she was in the kitchen, repeatedly pushing the start button on the microwave and saying, ”I can’t get the light to turn off!” I checked the readout on the microwave and it showed 43 minutes cook time left before it blew out.
The “light” was a flame burning inside the closed microwave. We couldn’t get close to it as she would not move and continued to push the button. My husband started yelling over her “It’s on fire!” while I bodily lifted her and moved her out of the way to extinguish the flames. We asked what she was thinking and she answered, “I wanted a piece of toast.” There was no toast or any other food item inside of the microwave, not even ashes, there was only melted plastic from the ring. We told her she broke it and she promised that she would replace it.
After that we got help to keep her during the day. She was dropped off and picked up each day with a family member, and there she received excellent care. After about another year Ron retired, then a few months later I joined him in retirement, so we were no longer leaving her at all.
Grandma did pay to replace the microwave the next day. She still remembered her accident, and repeatedly said that she was going to replace the broken one. We were concerned that she would try to borrow the car to do just that while we were asleep, she was so determined, so we took her right away. Got one with a locking control panel.
We can laugh about it now but we thank the Lord that it was only a small contained flame. It could have been a tragedy. Needless to say, we never attempted leaving her after that, if she can’t go out, we don’t go out. Also, even though she has never driven in her life, just to be safe we keep the car keys in our room. She may decide to go out for toast.