Care-taking and Top Picks for Falmouth, MA

My New Mantra

I’ve come to know Falmouth, Massachusetts quite well these past few years. So when it came to writing about this alluring Cape Cod destination for Discovery Map, I found it hard to limit myself to just two pages of content for Falmouth, Mashpee & Woods Hole. But I did because that’s what the assignment required. Take a look at Instagram-able Places and Eat Your Way Through Falmouth, Mashpee & Woods Hole to find out some of the reasons why you should visit this beautiful New England coastal area.

So how have I come to know Falmouth so well? I am lucky enough to have a few friends that live there, however, I haven’t been able to spend much time with them. The main reason I’ve visited Falmouth a lot these past few years–especially this past year–is because of my mom’s oldest and dearest friend. Let me call her El. She’s like an aunt/second mother/good friend to me and since she doesn’t have any children–or even many family members left in her life–I’m like a daughter to her. I love her dearly and have been happy to visit her in her little Cape Cod house (and during one visit by her bedside at the hospital) numerous times in recent history to bring comfort, aid and hopefully a bit of cheer.

Autumnal Glow in Falmouth

That was my mission this past holiday weekend when I cooked up a plan to drive my mom to Falmouth and spend Thanksgiving with her best friend. Well, like most of you perhaps, I took on too much and as I digest the events of our visit, I’m sifting through and cherishing the good moments and yes, well, letting the shit go. Don’t get me wrong–we had a lovely visit and there’s plenty to savor. But dealing with two very strong-minded 84-year-old ladies suffering from an array of health issues is a tall order. Add to that all the stress that comes with holiday gatherings–no matter how small–and you’ve got a scenario best handled by the truly robust. I must admit that’s not me these days because I have been working through my own health issues.

Off Season at the Beach

Like my mother, I suppose, I don’t do things minimally, which meant I cooked for two days and packed up the turkey and all the fixings and drove mom through thick traffic down to the Cape on Wednesday. By the time the three of us sat down to eat at 7pm on Thursday (a respectable time for this European-influenced gal who knew that no one in our little group rarely dined before that hour), I had already been besieged with all kinds of crabbing, including “Oh, you didn’t roast the turkey before you arrived?”

“I thought we’d enjoy the smell of it cooking for a couple of hours (it was a breast) while we enjoyed drinks and apps,” I replied. “I thought it would be nice to have the time to visit first.”

More grumbles even though the plan worked out perfectly.

Chowder Time:  Black Friday Lunch at the Black Cat in Hyannis

The next day followed with more criticisms re: my timing and execution of a good number of tasks. The coup de grace came when I expressed that I was tired and feeling terribly foggy and was informed that only 84-year-old women had the right to complain. Oh-kay. (By the way, I just about never complain because I subscribe to what you put out is what you get back, which is maybe why I eventually joined the complaining bandwagon of our merry little group.)

Needless-to-say, I felt under appreciated and over extended. I’ve been following a super strict diet to combat my own health problems, which I blew off completely by having wine two nights in a row (big pours!). Had there been a bottle of tequila, I might have hit that as well. After almost having fallen asleep at the wheel on the way home on Saturday, I pulled into Starbuck’s for a massive pumpkin latte. I’d been off of sugar and caffeine, too, and half expected to have a major case of the shakes but no, that’s just what I needed to set me right. By the time I arrived home, I felt like I wanted to lose myself in a whole a box of chocolates but instead settled for a healthy dinner and two more glasses of wine.

Soaking Up the Serenity at Brenda and Michael’s

Fortunately I’ve recovered both mentally and physically. Certain apologies were extended after the fact (under the guise that “We know each other so well that we can be real.”) And I’m still very grateful for having organized such a gathering between old friends.

I’m focusing on the positives: how heartwarming it was to see that El had picked up her dining room and prepared it for our feast and also how she changed out of her nightgown and dressed up for the occasion–two things she has not had the energy to do this past year. I do know that mom and El loved the food I prepared and all the effort I put forth, which gave me satisfaction. I’m touched by how my mother wanted to go out the next day and buy El a microwave after hers blew up during the middle of our Thanksgiving food warming. (Thankfully I was not blamed.) Yes, mom and I braved Black Friday at Walmart’s despite our exhaustion and the crowds. It was worth it because it made Eleanor feel like Christmas had arrived early for her and most importantly she was once again in a position to warm up her coffee a gazillion times a day.

Our parting goodbye at the door will forever remain etched in my mind. How tender it was to see two old ladies that have shared more than seventy years of friendship say goodbye to each other. How touched I felt that despite all the ups and downs of our holiday weekend, I was responsible for making it all happen. Part “Driving Miss Daisy,” part “Grey’s Garden,” part “On Golden Pond,”part “Terms of Endearment,” it felt like I was living within a movie during the long drive with mom and throughout our visit at the Cape.

I’d rather, however, live inside a romantic comedy. But that has not been my life these past months.

For anyone who has been involved in care-taking, you know it’s a duty that comes with its rewards and challenges. Those popping in for a short visit have no idea how the day-to-day can wear you down. Yet I am so very grateful to be able to be available to my mother and El as well. I have by no means done it perfectly but I have tried my best.

I’ll be heading back to Colorado soon and picking up my own life. I trust that mom will fare well enough on her own during the upcoming months. And yes, I’m sure she needs a break from me, too.

In the meantime, I will continue to breathe deeply and let shit go.

I bought the above mug during my mini shopping foray with mom on the Cape. Apparently it’s the shop’s bestseller. No surprise there! I’ll be drinking from it daily as I continue to deal with the many hurdles (or should I say, opportunities for growth?) in my life. You can buy the above mug and other cool gift items at Wish Gift Co., a cute little shop in Mashpee Commons. Act fast before they sell out. Be sure to mention Bonjour Colorado to receive 10% off of anything you purchase from the store. You can also call them at (888) 978-9474.

Go to my Online Shopping page to find other wonderful purveyors that also offer 10% discounts to Bonjour Colorado readers.

Remember to take a look at my Discovery Map write ups (Instagram-able Places and Eat Your Way Through Falmouth, Mashpee & Woods Hole) to find out some of the reasons why you should visit this beautiful New England destination.

Also, know that Falmouth is an enchanting place to visit during the holiday season. The shopping there is tops, so maybe that will be the subject for a future Discovery Map piece. I visited El at the Cape in the fall once before–that time with my father and mother–and wrote about it at Cape Cod, Cranberries and the Creation of Ever-Lasting Memories.

Our Parting Shot

It Takes a Village

Painting from The Black Cat in Falmouth: Can’t Be without Cats

Making things happen for anyone and most especially for elderly people often requires the help of many. For this particular excursion, I am very grateful to my dear friend, Jane, who suggested I stay at her sister’s house in Falmouth. Brenda and Michael graciously opened their beautiful home to mom and me while they were away. Staying there was one of the highlights of our visit to Falmouth.

We are also grateful to mom’s neighbor, Karen, who checked in on our three cats, our babies, while we were away. I’m fine with leaving my two for a few days on their own, however, mom lives by a different standard, so fortunately Karen stepped in.

One More Thing

Mom Putting Up with Another Picture

I particularly wanted to share this experience with you because we are in the throes of one of the most stressful times of the year, a time when people can’t help having expectations around get togethers with friends, business contacts, family and other loved ones. I hope my sharing will help you identify this phenomenon and help you to recalibrate your feelings about these experiences before, during and after these events.

Traveling can also be filled with ups and downs, which is why I wrote the story Travel Lightly:  Something to Remember During the Busy Holiday Season and Always. I think you will also find it to be helpful this holiday period and always. Thank you to Jane for the inspiration for that story as well.

I feel so very grateful for so very much. Namaste.

Note that I’m sorry I don’t have any photos of our Thanksgiving feast. I was too busy taking care of my gals to take pictures. Plus, the ladies are at an age where they’re not keen on picture taking. I’ve actually come to understand that, which brings me one step closer to grasping what it must be like to feel old and tired and less than at the peak of your form. Compassion begins with empathy.

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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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