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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

Will the Real Barbara Please Stand Up


What a laugh we had today!! Mom’s sister Barbara is visiting from England, and whenever she’s around, the laughter is contagious. Even Mom was in good spirits.

When I arrived, I met Mom, Daddy and Barbara at the doctor’s office. Daddy needed a letter from the doctor that stated that Mom’s Alzheimer’s is a permanent illness. This must be given to the court to process his guardianship of Mom. They’d been waiting for a while when I walked in, and we immediately fell to laughing and singing. We were so noisy, the secretary came over and asked us to be quiet.

With Barbara here, Mom won’t think I’m her sister, I thought. Here’s my chance to be me. But Mom couldn’t keep us straight. “Where’s Miriam,” she called out, though I was standing right next to her.

Nor could she remember how old she was. We joked that she was the only person we knew who got younger every year. Today she was about 25.

Barbara and I had a few minutes to ourselves. It is hard for her to watch her big sister become so childlike, to ask the same questions again and again, to forget something that’s happened the moment it’s over. In contrast to her own impatience, she realizes how understanding and supportive my dad has become.

It is always bittersweet. We have fun. We laugh. We live in the moment. On the one hand, Mom is missing significant pieces of herself. While her language facility is still intact—she remembers her childhood Yiddish and French almost fluently—her fear of crossing roads, for example, is exacerbated, as is her confusion over simple tasks like making tea (e.g., hot water poured over a piece of bread that’s been stuffed into the mug).

On the other hand, we must be glad for what we do have. Mom is joyous. She calls out to people she recognizes, though she can’t remember who they are. She laughs and makes puns (when I told her I’d recently visited the island of Spinalonga in Greece, Mom said, “It’s been a longa time”), she gives warm hugs and kisses to those she loves. Mom’s disease is progressing, and sometime soon she will be lost to us. Until then, we will delight in the present as much as possible.

I was away for almost two weeks on a fantastic cruise sponsored by my employer, AACI. It was a working vacation where we met fabulous people and saw amazing ports, including Venice. Perhaps the main attraction of a cruise is eating! How nice it was to walk into the dining room and be offered an array of tasty dishes without lifting a finger. I miss it.

The winter rainy season has begun here in Israel, and one of the benefits is an abundance of citrus produce. Our lemon tree is bursting with fruit. Here’s a tangy green bean recipe with a strong lemon taste.

Lemon Green Beans

Lemon zest is the grated peel of a lemon. Putting zest in a cake or vegetable dish, or using it as a garnish in a bowl of soup, adds a strong lemon flavor to your dish. I try to use all the lemon, so after I’ve scraped it’s peel, I make myself some sweet lemonade.

2 lbs green beans

½ to 1 onion thinly sliced

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp canola oil (can use butter)

3 cloves minced garlic

1 Tbsp lemon zest

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste


Sauté garlic and onion in oil until onions begin to brown. Add green beans and stir to coat. Cover and cook on medium flame until beans turn bright green. Add lemon and red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir, then cook for another two minutes.

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