I use Nucleus with my mom, Eva, who’s 86. She lives with me in Gainesville, where I work at the University of Florida. I’m originally from Saugerties in upstate New York. Jimmy Fallon and I went to the same high school—that’s my claim to fame! After high school, I moved to California with my parents, and then to Nevada, where I was a travel agent for about 25 years. Scotland, South Africa, and New Zealand are probably the top places I’ve been, and Germany to see relatives.
My mother is from northern Germany, and my father was born on Staten Island, but his parents were German too. He passed in ‘92. They met in upstate New York through church people. After the Second World War, Germany was in disarray, and there were no jobs to be found, so my mom left to find work elsewhere. She was a very strict disciplinarian; she never took no for an answer. And my sister and I were never asked what we wanted to do. We were just told. That was the way she was brought up.
Nucleus is like a safety cushion for me with my mom.
Now she’s dependent on me because I’m her caregiver. I check in on her during the day when I’m at work, using the Nucleus app on my iPhone, and I also use Nucleus to see my two cats. It’s like a safety cushion for me with my mom. I had gotten her a flip phone for seniors, but it was so small she couldn’t see the buttons, and she refused to use it. Now I have one Nucleus device in the living room and one in the sewing room, which are the two places my mom spends her time. In the living room, I got her a slot machine since she was from Nevada, and video poker was her passion. She thinks I’m spying on her using the slot machine when she’s supposed to be doing something else, but at 86, what else is she supposed to be doing?!
Another passion is knitting. Since my dad passed, she’s knit mohair sweaters. When we were younger, she knit us ski sweaters. Now she sends sweaters to my sister in Nevada, who auctions them off to raise money for senior citizens.
The other staple of her life now is TV. The Price Is Right at 11, Wheel of Fortune at 7, Jeopardy at 7:30, and then her life is complete. She wears earphones because she turns the volume up really high, and I can’t take it—the whole house would literally be throbbing. At night when she’s watching, sometimes she’ll yell at the TV contestants, things like “You idiot, the phrase is ‘time of your life!’” It’s so funny because I don’t hear anything except her shouting.
The holidays are coming, and I’m looking forward to her lebkuchen, a German spice cake. It’s made with cinnamon and cloves and allspice. People here beg for it every year, and at 86 she can still make a loaf and cut it up and give it to people. It’s just the most wonderful thing.
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