Cantaloupe: How a melon taught me to be more loving, respectful and accepting of my mother.

Tammy Cox By Tammy Cox, 12th Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Elderly Relatives

Bringing an elderly parent to live with you can have lots of challenges. Your success may depend on your willingness to change your own attitude with love and a free heart.

Off to a rough start!

In her early 80’s it became evident that my widowed mother could no longer live alone in her country home. After exploring all possibilities, the family decided that she would move in with me. The first six months were very challenging. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried nothing pleased her and neither of us were happy. She was demanding, contrary, stubborn, and just plain hard to live with! I really tried to please her though.

Pleasing her was hard!

For several days she had been looking at grocery ads and would always say “That cantaloupe sure looks good!” I finally got the message: she wanted cantaloupe! That very day I went to the store and brought home a perfect melon. The next morning I got up early and cut it up in nice bite sized pieces just the way she liked it. When she came in for breakfast I said. “Mom, I got you some cantaloupe and it is all cut up and ready for you to eat.” She said, “Oh! I can’t eat cantaloupe. It upsets my stomach!” I wanted to kill her! But, I held my tongue – for a few minutes. Then I noticed that one more time she had left her dirty butter knife on the bread board and I lost it! “Mom, would it be too much for you to just put your dirty knife in the sink?”

She broke down and started to cry, saying “Can’t I do anything to please you?” It suddenly hit me that she was feeling exactly the same thing I was feeling. “Can’t I do anything to please her?”

A Big Lesson and A Special Story

I thought about this for several days and I finally realized that if we were to live together something had to change. I knew I could not change her so it had to be me. I thought about what it must be like for her to have given up her independence, her home and a lot of her things. Her children had made decisions for her and knowing she had no real choice she agreed, but she obviously was not happy about it.

About that time I ran across this story about a young woman in China wanted to get rid of her mother-in-law. It made quite an impression on me.

A Decision

I decided to make it my mission to really try to please Mom – not just go through the motions. I started asking her what she wanted from the store and took her with me when I could. I hunted for activities and events that she could enjoy. I started looking at having her with me as a gift instead of a duty and behaved accordingly. Before long she became an absolute joy to live with – and she ate lots of cantaloupe with no tummy aches.


We had over 12 wonderful years together. We went through some challenging times and some serious health scares, but we always had each other. When she died at almost 95, I was able to let her go knowing that what we had was very special. We might not have had it without that cantaloupe.

I am now living with my daughter and trying hard to remember the lessons that melon taught me.


Acceptance, Elder Care, Respect And Understanding

Meet the author

author avatar Tammy Cox
Parent educator and instructor trainer, relationship coach, public speaker, writer, Mother, Grandmother, former caregiver of elderly parent and now several dogs and a cat.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
12th Aug 2014 (#)

I took care of my mother while she was suffering with Parkinson's it is never easy to look after somebody like that. We do it out of love.

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author avatar Tammy Cox
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Yes we do it out of love Mark and the rewards are just added benefit.

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author avatar Retired
12th Aug 2014 (#)

This is lovely, and your commitment to making it work even more so. Thank you for sharing.

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author avatar Etc.
12th Aug 2014 (#)

What a wonderful personal story. You are blessed coming and going--having those wonderful years with your own mother, and now giving the same years to your daughter. I pray she can rise to occasion and truly appreciate them.

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author avatar Tammy Cox
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Thank you Etc. My daughter tells me everyday how much she loves having me in her home and I am so happy to be living with her.

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author avatar Tammy Cox
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Thank you for such kind words Susan.

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