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August 15, 2014 9:59 AM   Subscribe

The Cherry Cordial Revolution Do I help Grandma? Or do I follow the (eavesdropped) rules and refuse to buy Grandma her cherries?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (45 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is the only appropriate response to cherry cordials.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 10:29 AM on August 15


Cherry cordials are great.
posted by Redfield at 10:39 AM on August 15


I used to get a box of them every Christmas from my grandparents.. Good stuff.
posted by k5.user at 11:09 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


I liked the piece, but as someone who has spent a lot of time visiting loved ones in assisted living facilities and developed a ton of empathy for the staff at those places, I had to side with the facility on this one.
posted by gimli at 11:13 AM on August 15 [5 favorites]


she had broken her third hip and could no longer stay at home alone

What kind of monstrous grandmother thing is this?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:16 AM on August 15 [12 favorites]


I, for one, welcome our new insect grandmothers.
posted by The Bellman at 11:29 AM on August 15 [3 favorites]


Hahahahaha, this is great. I love helping my grandmother break the rules. Even the ones that are "good" for her. Sometimes her daughters want her to eat less sugar or go to bed earlier or not take too much arthritis medicine. The other night, I gave her an extra dose of Tylenol for her neck, and the home health aide said, "Won't that hurt her liver?"

I shrugged and said, "She's 93. What are we trying to do, preserve it for her old age?"

I come by this honestly; my dad used to tell her that since she had made it to 85, she might as well start smoking again. If I thought she'd enjoy it, I would honestly seriously think about it.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:45 AM on August 15 [11 favorites]


My dad gives me a box of Queen Anne cherry cordials every Xmas. Last year he switched brands and got some knockoff variety. The goo wasn't even gooey, all crystallized and gross. The chocolate was even waxier than Queen Anne's. And the trays weren't even sealed. Somehow half the cordials were upside down. He better fly right this year and accept no substitutions. I expect only the best in cheap nasty candies for my Yuletide cheer.
posted by ian1977 at 11:53 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


BRACH'S. They're terrible! I kind of understand if you prefer the pure liquid of a Cella's, but the only reason to eat Brach's is because you hate yourself and Christmas.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:59 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


What kind of philistines are you people? RUSSELL STOVER'S OR DEATH
posted by scody at 12:08 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Russell Stover's or death? I'll see myself out then.
posted by advicepig at 12:13 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


Oh, I'll definitely take See's for awesome boxed chocolate. I just meant that if you were choosing between drugstore brands...
posted by scody at 12:24 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Even the ones that are "good" for her.

I think these were the rules that were "good" for every single other person in that facility.
posted by inigo2 at 12:24 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


If anybody ever gives anybody some cherrycordials they don't want, please email me for my home address.

Even Brach's.

Likewise, I will sneak cherry cordials to anyone's relatives within a 75 mile radius, no questions asked, but especially supportive of revolution candy.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:28 PM on August 15 [9 favorites]


Damnit!!! They are old. They aren't going to be here much longer. I have a great deal of empathy for the staff, but as long as she doesn't have herpes or any other public health menace to consider, LET HER EAT HER FUCKING CHERRIES (and leave them all gross and sucked out on the windowsills).

Viva la Revolucion!!!
posted by Sophie1 at 12:31 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Brach's? See? Russell Stover? Queen Ann??

And I always thought the PC v Mac thing was extreme…

Cella4eveh
posted by ShawnString at 12:41 PM on August 15


I'm more a fan of their caramels, but my Ohioan wife swears by Esther Price's cherry cordials.
posted by emelenjr at 12:42 PM on August 15


Oh, I'll definitely take See's for awesome boxed chocolate.

Yes, but -- their Mayfair has cherry in it, but no real chocolate-covered cherries at See's.

The goo wasn't even gooey, all crystallized and gross.

That's the difference between the good and the bad kinds. Did somebody mention Brachs?
posted by Rash at 12:57 PM on August 15


I was really hoping this story was going to end with her working out some way to go over to the nursing home and help clean up all the gross cherries her Grandma was leaving all over the place.

Imagine having to put your mother in a nursing home. Now imagine learning that it's the sort of place where residents leave sticky bits of half-eaten candy all over the place.
posted by straight at 1:01 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]


Imagine being at the end of your life and no longer having any control over where you live, what or when you eat, when or if you leave the house, how and when you take medicine, or any other thing in your life, which is now painful and small. Imagine that the only form of protest available to you is leaving sticky bits of half-eaten candy all over the place.

Aside, my grandmother has been in skilled nursing facilities and I worry more about her fall risk, her pain levels, and her declining mental state the longer she is there than I do about whatever the other residents do to stay sane.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:12 PM on August 15 [7 favorites]


"I can't be bothered to take on the responsibility of taking care of my parent/grandparent in their final years, I'm willing to place them in a 'home' they hate, and, once there, I will support their protests against living there by aiding them in their efforts to make all those other people who live there, probably against their will, too, unhappy! Because that's just how I roll, as a contemporary American!"
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:31 PM on August 15


I don't think the 12-year-old had any say in where she was placed.
posted by Shmuel510 at 1:34 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Imagine that the only form of protest available to you is leaving sticky bits of half-eaten candy all over the place.

That and manipulating children to do your illegal bidding. All my 117 great aunts and uncles and cousins three times removed and grandparents used to do this to us. "Quick, your mother's gone to the pharmacy. Nip out and get me a carton of Marlboros". It was great fun.
posted by fshgrl at 1:44 PM on August 15 [7 favorites]


You can simultaneously be unable to care for your relative at home*, and be upset and angry about her terrible living conditions in a skilled nursing facility, and think it's kind of funny and hopeful that she staged a one-woman candy intervention against her imprisonment at Shady Pines, and feel bad for the other people in a place where cordial cherry strikes of conscience are a thing.

*Not enough space; can't lift the elderly person at all or with reliability; can't assist elderly person physically with activities of daily living due to caretaker's own illness or health problems; can't afford in-home care and insurance doesn't cover; work during the day and elderly person has dementia and is not safe to be alone; work during the day and elderly person is a high fall risk and is not safe to be alone; can't afford to privately fund a nicer SNF; limited choice of or space in SNF near family; elderly person not candidate for certain SNFs.

I like to think that if my grandmother had to live permanently in a nursing home, I would break her out like it was Attica and we would go on the run. But the truth is, I wouldn't. I can't lift her. I can't help her transfer if she isn't able to assist me. I get impatient with her and need to take breaks every hour on the hour. I would have to quit my job and school. You can put a relative in a nursing home and hate yourself for it, believe me.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:46 PM on August 15 [16 favorites]


Imagine that the only form of protest available to you is leaving sticky bits of half-eaten candy all over the place.

Seems about as appropriate as "protesting" Wal-Mart's business practices by egging the cars of a few of their cashiers.
posted by straight at 1:55 PM on August 15


"I don't think the 12-year-old had any say in where she was placed."

No, but the discussion in this thread and the retrospective POV of the piece assume supporting an unhappy elderly relative's protest against their living situation while eliding the issue of responsibility for the fact that said relative are where they are in the first place.

"You can put a relative in a nursing home and hate yourself for it, believe me."

I do know. I've been in this situation, too. I hope to not ever be in this situation with my now-68 year-old mother, but it was her mother we had to put in a home and my sister and I may have to face this issue sooner than we think. Hopefully not.

But if it's a bad home and they're protesting it, then the target of their protest is properly you or me, who placed them there, not the staff and the other people in the home.

I like the idea of a legitimately non-responsible third-party supporting someone's protest against their living conditions. And, ostensibly, this recalled 12 year-old girl had no responsibility. But her parents did. She should have been leaving nasty candies out for her parents to deal with. And, anyway, the larger perspective on this piece takes for granted the injustice of an elderly person in an unhappy home, puts forth a "stick it to the man" message, while completely ignoring that "the man" is really us, not a conveniently faceless staff as if demeaning retirement/nursing homes were some inevitably of life.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:09 PM on August 15


And, ostensibly, this recalled 12 year-old girl had no responsibility.

No 12-year-old child bears any responsibility for her elderly grandmother's living situation. The author of this piece was a child who was not in any way responsible for placing or not placing her grandmother in a nursing home. She had no responsibility to be anything other than 12.

But if it's a bad home and they're protesting it, then the target of their protest is properly you or me, who placed them there, not the staff and the other people in the home.

We can agree that this sucked for the other residents, but the staff of a bad SNF are absolutely people who have the power to change things. It's perfectly fine to make your grievances known to the staff. And my larger point is that many, many families don't "place" their relatives anywhere (for the younger relative's convenience or not); it's simply the best of bad options, and often the only option.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:20 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


But her parents did. She should have been leaving nasty candies out for her parents to deal with.

Ivan, seriously, she was twelve years old.

Perhaps when you were twelve years old, you carefully determined the moral value of all of your decisions in strict preference utilitarian terms before acting - frankly, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest - but to be honest most of my happy memories of being twelve involve committing some kind of crime, so I for one am more inclined to just let this one slide.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 2:42 PM on August 15 [5 favorites]


You have been told directly by your grandmother to buy her cherry cordials. You have not been told directly by your parents not to. So go buy your grandmother her candy - it's what she would have down for you.
posted by maryr at 3:06 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


The entire premise of the story is that the twelve-year-old is asking herself what's the right thing to do. So of course the reader is going to consider the question as well and maybe sympathize with people who aren't on the twelve-year-old's radar.
posted by straight at 3:11 PM on August 15


It wasn't a bad home, and Grandma's children didn't place her there because they couldn't be bothered to take on the responsibility of taking care of her. The 12-year-old recognized that Grandma was protesting the fact that her body was changing, and everybody told her what to do all the time. The girl empathized because the same thing was happening to her. So she helped her grandmother demonstrate for the last two months of her life, in the only way available to her, that she wasn't completely defeated.
posted by ogooglebar at 3:14 PM on August 15 [12 favorites]


I don't get this post.
posted by clvrmnky at 3:35 PM on August 15


I love this piece. I'm a nurse and I've worked as a health aide and dealt with plenty of messes and aggravations, and I know that those cherry globs must have been incredibly frustrating to deal with. But I still delight in the gumption of the woman who put them there and the kid who helped her.

You see so many people who are just devastated by the deterioration of their bodies, minds, and/or living circumstances as they age or face serious illness. It doesn't have to be a "bad home" for living there to be a terrible experience for an elderly woman who lived for decades as master of her own home. It's just the awful fact of needing to be taken care of, or being in pain, or not being able to set your own schedule. Some people can roll with it but other people cannot, for reasons of personality or personal history, and those people suffer. It's hard to watch that suffering and there seldom is a whole lot you can do to change it. Which the author intuitively understood as a nerdy girl on the cusp of adolescence.

There is something very hopeful about sticking those cordials all over the nursing home. I love seeing those little ways in which people's spirits refuse to totally sputter out, even in circumstances that are difficult and unlikely to ever improve.
posted by bookish at 3:50 PM on August 15 [13 favorites]


bookish: thank you. I was not charmed by this article--although I am often charmed by a good grandparent/grandchild conspiracy and usually moved by a good not-going-gently-into-that-good-night story. But when I first read this piece, all I could think was "this nasty woman is leaving disgusting bits of chewed candy in the common areas of her residence and we're supposed to cheer for her?" I thought of all the other people living there who had to deal with flies or sticky goo and of the staff who had tried to come up with a way of letting this woman have her candy without being gross for all the other residence (frankly, I imagined the ask.me: "guys, my roommate leaves sucked out centers of cherry cordials everywhere. I've offered napkins, special ashtrays, everything, what can I do now" and the chorus of "kick the disrespectful motherfucker out" answers)

I could not find anything here to celebrate.

I still don't quite agree with you that this was anything but nasty spiteful behavior, but yours was the first comment which made me see the possibility that it was something else.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:04 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


"It wasn't a bad home, and Grandma's children didn't place her there because they couldn't be bothered to take on the responsibility of taking care of her. The 12-year-old recognized that Grandma was protesting the fact that her body was changing, and everybody told her what to do all the time. The girl empathized because the same thing was happening to her. So she helped her grandmother demonstrate for the last two months of her life, in the only way available to her, that she wasn't completely defeated."

That's why it was a bad home! Her grandmother wasn't a child. She was being treated like a child, but she wasn't a child. The very fact of the comparison you're pointing out is evidence of what's wrong with this picture.

It's this combination of a sense of inevitability and patronization, along with, weirdly, a nod to the legitimacy of elderly protest that is very bothersome to me. It implies something very wrong about how we culturally think about the elderly. It's like we recognize that there's something not right about how the elderly are treated, but we don't much worry about who's responsible (because it's inevitable) and, also, it makes for a good anecdote, like grandma is a bit-player in someone's touching story.

"There is something very hopeful about sticking those cordials all over the nursing home. I love seeing those little ways in which people's spirits refuse to totally sputter out, even in circumstances that are difficult and unlikely to ever improve."

I'm disabled and my body is failing me. I wouldn't find it encouraging or supportive if someone reacted to my deliberately leaving messes around for others to clean up (to express my unhappiness) as a delightful example of how I am refusing to completely lose spirit. I'd find it patronizing in a way that just compounded my unhappiness.

More to the point, we collectively as a culture and I individually don't have to assume that my unhappiness and sense of helplessness is an inevitability, regardless of age and health. Being disabled, it will always be deeply insulting for me to be indulged as if I were a child, as if my disability implies childhood and requires an indulgence from those around me. The sick and the disabled and the elderly don't have to live in a context which assumes that their lives necessarily suck and, therefore, the least we can do is allow them to be assholes about it.

My mother's an RN and there's a genetic illness in my family that I suffer from. I've been around healthcare professionals my entire life. I fully understand and agree with having some tolerance and empathy for other people's pain; but I also have experienced first-hand how it's the case that many people, including healthcare professionals, can confuse empathy/sympathy for pity, caring for patronization, and help for disempowerment. And the absolutely first-rate clue for when this might be happening is if someone is treating someone as if they're indulging a child.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:17 PM on August 15 [3 favorites]


I think the author should start putting boxes of cherries in her mom's new living quarters. Only if it won't scare the beejeezus out of her. But it would be hilarious. Or maybe one box and then she spills the beans.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 4:30 PM on August 15


I'm not surprised to see I was TOTALLY WRONG AND MORALLY TRANSGRESSIVE for liking this story. My grandmother is in a nursing home right now, with dementia so advanced that she recognizes nobody and understands little. I wish like hell that she was able to plot little subterfuges like leaving gross candy bits everywhere. She used to love cherry cordials, too.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:01 PM on August 15 [6 favorites]


I think we have no idea how to treat elderly people in homes. They're too old to be children...but enough people in homes are suffering from dementia or something else where they are losing their adult-ability and are regressing like children. I think that's why everyone gets treated like a first grader (or worse).

On the one hand, gross, but on the other hand, I'd smuggle the candy in too.

Also, I despise nursing homes but sometimes they are the only option.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:12 PM on August 15


A lady named Millie was a resident in a nursing home I worked in 30 years ago. Millie spent most of her time in her room and didn't socialize. She was under day-in day-out pressure to take part in the social activities and finally, tired of fighting, she gave in and went to Afternoon Crafts. Five minutes later she stormed out of the craft room and ran to her room, nearly in tears. I asked what happened and she said, "GD it, I was a teacher for more than 40 years and in there they handed me a page out of a kid's coloring book and some crayons and told me to color." And yes, there were tears.

I worked in nursing homes for 11 years before I couldn't stand it anymore. Even though I loved my "adopted grandparents" and even though I understand that there are situations that simply have no other solution, the contradiction between a long life of independence and the new reality of complete dependence seems to be a final, razor's edge of cruelty to me.

I would have to smile at the idea of sucked-out chocolate-covered cherries found in strange places; the first one may not have been so funny, but once the jig was up it would be a good story to look back on. And bless the little granddaughter's heart for sharing a prank with her grandma.
posted by aryma at 10:13 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Old age sucks. I remember for my grandmother one of the big battles before my half of the family took her in was over a glass of scotch. Gram was ~80 when my gramps passed away and they had a drink every night together after dinner. My aunt, no moral paragon herself, insisted after he passed that she should have her usual after dinner glass of Johnnie Walker. Notwithstanding the choice of a blended scotch (yes, I'm a snob), it made her so mad that she couldn't have her evening glass.

One of the many arguments I can remember my mom having with my aunt was over the taking away of the scotch with my mom saying, very clearly, "she's 80, let her have a goddamn drink if she wants it." It was a battle of wills and a protest and a weird thing - she passed when she was 84 in my mom's care and those last few years, despite being stuck in the oppressive heat of Florida, she could have her small glass every night and remain her adult self.

I will not, cannot, imagine why people think the quantity of years matters so much that there must be a bitter fight for every last second.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:37 PM on August 15 [5 favorites]


What kind of philistines are you people? RUSSELL STOVER'S OR DEATH

I think you mean 'and.' If you're going for not amazing but decent chocolates, the only option is Quality Street.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:47 AM on August 16


Who makes the best cherry cordials, anyway? I cannot stand the things, myself, so I am at a loss as to how to judge value.

Let's mail a variety of boxes to the author and get a taste test started.
posted by adipocere at 7:29 AM on August 16


Around Christmas time Trader Joe's sells cherry cordials that have actual liqueur in them, enough that you have to be of legal age to buy them. They are the very best ever.
posted by Daily Alice at 11:58 AM on August 16


I will try those TJ's cherry cordials this Christmas. You know, for science.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:52 PM on August 16


Wait, we're talking about cherry chocolates that have a non-liqueur syrup in them? North America is a strange and terrifying continent. I love the occasional cherry liqueur chocolate. In the UK you can buy them from the age of 16.
posted by ambrosen at 7:33 AM on August 17


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