A Dose of Oatmeal Cookies
Imagine a world where reality is suspect. Think Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, The Matrix, Ender’s Game. If you’ve seen any of these sci-fi films, you can visualize the protagonist’s fight to overcome the reality espoused by those in power. Each movie ends cathartically with the protagonist winning his battle to reveal the true reality.
Now imagine on a smaller scale an individual who battles against disbelief her whole day, an individual who is told by the very people she loves most that what she thinks is real is not. No wonder Alzheimer’s sufferers are angry and fearful.
This week’s visit was difficult. As we were walking home from town, Mom had a panic attack. We’d been talking about my brother’s recent visit, how wonderful it had been to see him. All of a sudden, as we were crossing the road, she yelled, “Where’s Simon?” I told her he was at his home in California. She wouldn’t accept that. “Where is he,” she cried. “He was just here. Where did he go?” I could not convince her that Simon was not with us. She angrily accused me of covering up the truth about his whereabouts. “You’re trying to trick me,” she hissed.
I stood there for a few minutes utterly despondent. With no way of getting her to accept reality, I simply decided to change the subject. If I could step back from her “court,” her perceived reality, I might be able to divert her attention. And then, her memory loss would kick in and she’d forget it ever happened. I certainly couldn’t change her mind about my implied perfidy. Do you know how sneaky that made me feel?
Then, Mom’s nails needed cutting. Her pinky nail had already broken leaving her finger bleeding and sore. The remaining nails were longer than I ever remembered them, and she was refusing to let us cut them. “I don’t need you to cut them for me,” she insisted, “I can do it myself.”
Mom’s anger at being corralled into something she didn’t want to do was evident. As much as I tried convincing her (again that word), she balked at my suggestions. I hated being the “bad guy,” but I had no choice: Mom could no longer take care of herself.
How awful it is to write those words. It means that she is no longer competent, no longer in control of her own destiny, no longer able to discern reality. It means that I am the mother of my mother. I finally made a game out of it. I told Mom we were going to the beautician to get our nails done. We put on our coats, took a stroll around the apartment, took off our coats and sat on the couch. “May I have your hand,” I asked in my best French accent. It worked. Mom was wooed by the drama. Cutting Mom’s nails made her seem so vulnerable as if she really were my child. I worried that I’d hurt her or be incapable of cutting and shaping her nails properly. I plunged in and cut. It helped that we sang much of The King and I as we sat together.
Daddy and I have discovered that it takes patience and creativity to deal with an Alzheimer’s sufferer. I wonder if all care givers come to that conclusion. I wonder, too, if reality is all that its cracked up to be.
With Purim next week and Pesach just around the corner (really!), I decided to use what I had in my cupboard and make oatmeal cookies. They were so good that they’ve already disappeared and I have to make something else for Mishlochai Manot.
Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips
2 cups flour
2 cups rolled oats (uncooked)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup canola oil
2 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tbsp orange juice
¼ to ½ cup chocolate chips
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients, including oats. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and oil, vanilla and orange juice. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. When dough has formed, add chocolate chips. Form the dough into small balls and place on a baking paper-lined baking sheet. These cookies don’t spread as they cook; use a fork to flatten them into round cookie shapes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350. Makes approximately 50 cookies.