Her first reaction was annoyance. “I don’t need anyone interfering with the way I live my life,” Mom declared. “Who is she anyway?”
It was 9:30 a.m., and we were waiting for the bi-annual visit of the city’s social worker. Try explaining to an angry Alzheimer’s patient why she receives special attention without using the words Alzheimer’s, memory loss, inability to take care of yourself, or caretaker. How many euphemisms are there?
When the social worker finally arrived, Mom was all smiles. She loves chatting with people, and this gave her ample opportunity to be center stage. The conversation stimulated her, and the details she remembered about past events were surprising. She remembered her grandson’s wedding and even described what I’d been wearing. When we were talking about her, she called us on it, demanding to know what we were discussing.
The social worker told us that she enjoys visiting our family. For all our troubles, we are a healthy, happy family, and we are using our resources to the best of our abilities. That was nice to hear.
When the social worker left, we gathered our things and went to visit my grandmother. I hadn’t seen her in a while. She was in good form. She remembered who I was and even joined in the conversation, albeit forming her sentences slowly and with missing words. I reminded her that we both have birthdays coming up in August. My grandmother is turning 99-years-old. Can’t quite fathom that. We talked by skype with my aunt in England, too. It gave us all a chance to laugh and enjoy the moment. (And for a few minutes, Mom knew that I was not her sister.)
We ended the visit by having lunch in a cliff top restaurant overlooking the sea. Oh, it was idyllic. The sun made everything golden. We could see white peaks forming randomly in the water. The breeze was strong and cool. I felt enveloped by love and good spirits. It was a mini-vacation of sorts.
On the bus on the way home, the radio announced that Hamas’ rockets were still targeting Israel. I missed two sirens in Beer Sheva but heard one as we passed Rahat. Holiday over.
And that brings me to the idea that sometimes forgetting can be a blessing. Mom can’t hold the thought of war in her head longer than the headlines. How blessed it would be to give up the worry over family and friends; the heartbreak of lost lives; the terror of dodging rockets. If I am the repository of Mom’s memories, these are some I will not remind her of.
This week I made a zucchini dish that was influenced by the rocket fire. I forgot to turn off the stove when I ran to my safe room. As I sat there listening to the tell-tale explosive sounds, I worried about what was happening to the simmering vegetables. Who would have guessed that sautéing them to death would add to their flavor.
2-3 large zucchini coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp rosemary
Salt to taste
Chop zucchini into large chunks or circles. Coat with oil and spices. Place in a pan and let cook until bottom layer begins to brown. Turn zucchini chunks and let cook again. Repeat until most of the chunks have browned on both sides.