wings and things

A very quiet house

As many of you already know, Ming lives in an old shed we began to renovate for him years ago (before Anthony went into the nursing home). It has been a very long process but also very exciting. Once it was finally finished, with a new paint job, lino on the floor, windows put in, electricity connected and his bed moved out there (around six months ago) he began to sleep out there regularly. But it wasn’t until recently that he moved all of his stuff out of his old bedroom (in the house) to the shed. Then, two days ago, he moved our old refrigerator in there too so he now has that and a microwave, so he can be (sort of) self-sufficient when it comes to meals.

Ah, meals, yes – a contentious issue for Ming and me. You see he has always been extremely fussy with food. No, let me rephrase that; he has always been extremely FUSSY with food! Let me exemplify. As a newborn, he wouldn’t breastfeed or take a bottle without our coercion (Anthony’s confidence that he’d had this problem with calves, and he could fix it, was unfounded and Ming actually lost some of his scrawny birth weight in his first month of life). He simply wasn’t interested in any sort of sustenance full stop. That first summer of his life I had to actually syringe water/milk/custard/mashed banana into his sweet, rebellious little pursed lips. It was an absolute nightmare.

Long story short, he survived on the bare minimum for years. During toddler years it was crackers and orange juice and sometimes butter, but nothing else. Eventually I took him to a naturopath who did some magic and he got a bit of an appetite but he is still (at 20) one of the most unhungry people I have ever come across. He just doesn’t seem to have a normal appetite reflex thingy – a weird anorexia? Mostly, he doesn’t think to eat, meals are haphazard and then suddenly he will eat four steaks in five minutes.

Needless to say, Anthony and I gave up when he was a kid and just let him ‘graze’. And now that he isn’t a kid any more, he either rejects meals I prepare or says he isn’t hungry. So, a few weeks ago, Ming and I made a decision that has actually saved my sanity (and probably his). When it comes to food, he fends for himself. He buys and prepares his own food and I am not to interfere.

Well, since I don’t eat that much anyway, this has come as a bit of a relief. But it is so hard to let go of 20 years of trying to feed the brat and let him fend for himself.

But it’s so weird and so quiet now and it only hit me tonight. With Anthony now in the nursing home, and Ming in his shed, there is no need any more for me to buy, prepare or cook food for others, so there is no sound of something simmering on the stove or in the crockpot and, because there is nobody in the kitchen any more, the television is off, it is very quiet.

All those years ago, when I first met Anthony and his mother and family, this was the noisiest house I had ever entered – loud voices, radio blaring, eggs and bacon sizzling, kettle boiling, Aga thrumming, dairyhands eating, and big, boisterous Anthony yelling for more toast-and-marmalade please.

So now, with all of that fading into history, and Ants in the nursing home, and Ming in his shed, and food no longer being something any of us share any more, the house is deathly quiet and strange and a little bit unfamiliar.