ask the old bag
Dear Old Bag: We have a big family and have always gotten together for big holiday dinners. It used to be at Mom’s house, but since she downsized, others have taken on the task. The problem is, we haven’t had a big family dinner since the pandemic started. We don’t see Mom except on family Zoom. None of us want to be responsible for giving her the dreaded COVID virus, as she is 81 and has underlying health problems. What do you recommend? Signed, The Kids
Dear Kids: I’m reasonably sure your mom understands what is going on and appreciates the care you are extending. This holiday season will be like no other. This isn’t the year for big holiday dinners. Instead, I suggest each kid has the holiday within their own “bubble”—your kids and those you associate with on a daily basis. I also recommend ordering a nice dinner in for your mom. Each of you FaceTime or Zoom with her on the holiday. Let’s all pray that the holidays in 2021 will be a time to rejoice with the whole family. OB
Dear Old Bag: When Dad passed away, I helped Mom pack up his things. I was amazed to see the unworn shirts, ties, pajamas, slippers and other brand-new gifts we’d given him over the last few years. The poor guy had so many gifts that he could not use or did not want. Please tell us how we could give more useful gifts to our parents! Signed, D.M.
Dear D.M.: Last year I heard from a daughter that she’d given her dad, who lived alone, coupons for 12 homemade pies. Each month she’d bake the pie and take it over so they could enjoy it together. Her dad said it was the best gift he ever had. Another idea from a reader: Write down stories or things you remember about your parent when you were younger. They can read this collection of stories and reminisce. Most of us old people have the things we need, although when I do need something I can’t afford, gift cards are a nice present. After all is said and done, it’s the giver that we love more than the gift! OB
Dear Old Bag: My daughter was in the hospital recently for an elective spinal injection. She was very nervous. When the resident anesthesiologist introduced himself, my daughter felt she wanted someone more experienced and requested someone who wasn’t a student. The attending physician corrected my daughter, saying the resident was a full-fledged doctor, not a student. Sensing my daughter’s tension, the nurse suggested another anesthesiologist, who calmed her down and did her spinal. Was she within her rights to say something, or should she have just shut up and let the resident do her spinal? Signed, Mother
Dear Mother: While it’s true that the resident is a full-fledged doctor, I subscribe to the philosophy that patients have the right to speak up and feel confident in their practitioner. That doesn’t mean they’re always right. From my perspective, the first physician—in correcting the patient—was in a sense arguing with her, which just adds to the patient’s anxiety. The nurse was very intuitive and saw that a better solution needed to be offered. I’m glad your daughter’s story had a good ending. As a former nurse, I was taught that patients come first! OB ■