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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

Fanny By Gaslight


“Hi, I’m home,” I say to Mom on the phone.

“Where have you been?” she asks.

Well, that’s a first. Mom doesn’t remember I visited today. I’m used to being called “Barbara” (her sister’s name), or even being confused with some other Miriam who disappears and reappears with alarming frequency, but to have my whole visit just vanish in the space of two hours, that’s unsettling.

When Mom fails to recognize me, I experience warring thoughts:

  • I should correct her and tell her it’s me, not someone else;

  • My visit is somehow invalidated if she doesn’t think it’s me;

  • It doesn’t matter who she thinks I am, the important thing is that we have fun together;

  • What I wouldn’t give to have my sibling visit once a week.

My dad is having a harder time than I am with this aspect of Mom’s failing memory. After 55 years of marriage, it is disconcerting for your spouse to think you’re their parent. It kind of ruins the intimacy of the relationship. One morning last week, Daddy stuck a message on his forehead that read, “I am your husband Jack.” It was the first thing Mom saw when she woke up.

“Who am I?” he asked her.

“You’re my stupid husband Jack,” she answered.

“That’s right,” he said, sending them both into fits of laughter.

Mom gets angry when you ask her seemingly obvious questions. “He’s making me out to be ‘Fanny-by-gaslight,’” she tells me, pointing at my father. That’s one of her favorite expressions. It’s based on a British film from the 1940s where a young woman discovers that her perceived reality is suspect.

There’s no sense in arguing with her, or pointing out the truth of a situation. She just doesn’t get it. So I say, “Mom, I came to visit you today.”

“Oh, thank you,” she says. “I miss you already. When will I see you again?’

It is so hard to navigate these waters.

One of my comfort foods is potatoes, especially sweet potatoes. They add taste and nutrition to almost any meal. To satisfy my family’s penchant for regular old spuds, I mix both kinds of potatoes in this recipe.

Oven Roast Potatoes

My friend Malka asked me to share this recipe. Make extra of these. They are always gobbled up.

10-12 white potatoes

1-2 large sweet potatoe

2 Tbsp canola oil

Granulated garlic





Cut potatoes into small pieces without peeling. Line a large baking dish with baking paper. Place potatoes in dish. Coat with oil and spices (the more the better!) using a large spoon (or hands) to cover evenly. Bake at 350° for an hour or until a knife can slide through the potatoes with ease. Stir once or twice during cooking process.

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