As an adult child of octogenarian parents, I wore a virtual millinery shop full of hats. Often, it felt as if I needed more heads. I know I needed more arms and legs – and much more time.
One of my most frayed chapeaus was my thinking cap, for I was most certainly the daughter of invention. A big part of my role as the designated caregiver was inventing gizmos that would make my parents’ lives more manageable and comfortable.
When my mom first moved into her assisted-living apartment, she hated the 6-foot-high, gray concrete wall that separated her balcony from the real world. So I camouflaged the wall with painted leaves. Mom never stopped teasing me about the “anatomically incorrect” foliage, but it did alleviate the claustrophobic feeling.
Mom’s walker was another coup. To encourage her to embrace the dreaded equipment, I gave it a personality. A child’s denim skirt from a local thrift store made a practical, hanging catchall. A goofy bicycle horn and a bicycle license plate announcing “New Kid on the Block” warned other pedestrians to get out of her way.
To keep her blouses safe from spilled food, I fashioned an apron out of old denim overalls. And when the apron fell short of her zest for food, I bought an assortment of colorful fabric remnants which she appliqu