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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

The Language of Music


“My Mirale, it’s so good to see you,” Mom says, drawing me into a big hug. She knows who I am! We dance across the living room, and I am comforted to be in my mother’s arms.

I’ve arrived on a beautiful winter morning, the sun bright, the city calling us to walk out and explore. We grab our coats and head out. Our mission: buy a house warming present for my son and daughter-in-law who we will visit next week.

This is kind of hard for Mom to understand. Simon, my brother, is arriving at the end of this week, and I’ve arranged to spend a few days with him and my parents in Netanya. During that time, we’ll visit my son in his home near Haifa, which, since we come from the south in Beer Sheva, is relatively close to them.

“Isn’t Simon down-stairs playing?” she asks.

“No, he’s in California,” I explain.

“What’s he doing there?” she squawks.

I decide it’s not worth dwelling on this because Mom can’t comprehend it. Not that he’s 48-years-old and not that he’s lived there for more than 24 years. I start up a song, which she immediately sings with me, and I steer her to the door.

Two hours later, we are back in their apartment. We’re eating lunch by ourselves; Daddy has taken advantage of my presence to meet with friends. It is my job to entertain Mom while her caretaker, Sahli, rotates her summer and winter clothes. I hate being dishonest with her, pulling the proverbial wool over her eyes. If I’m going to play my part, I must find something to distract her. I rummage through the cupboard and find the small keyboard she once bought for the kids. It still works! The sound is tinny, but somehow she magically remembers how to play some easy tunes. We end up laughing hysterically over an old song my grandfather taught me, “Oh, will you wash your father’s shirt? Oh, will you wash it clean? Oh, will you wash your father’s shirt and send it to the queen?” (I thought it was a song made up by my grandfather, but it turns out its real! Here’s a version I found on line:

And then it’s time to leave. “I’m going to miss you,” Mom says. “When does your plane leave?”

“I’ll miss you too,” I respond, “but guess what, I’m coming next week to visit, too.”

“You are? You’re the best sister I could ever have.”

When I say goodbye, I take solace in our closeness, in the fun we’ve had, in our shared hours. That’s what matters.

These warm winter days are dazzling in their warmth and brightness. Yet, early mornings and evenings are cold. As an accompaniment to the soups I like to make in winter, here’s a corn bread recipe that adds a touch of sweetness.

Corn Bread

This bread goes with almost anything. Serve it hot with melted butter. Or use it in a tuna sandwich. We love eating it as an accompaniment with soups and stews.

1 cup yellow corn meal

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 cup soy milk

¼ cup date honey

1 egg

3 Tbsp vegetable oil


Whisk together egg and oil, honey and soy milk. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well. Spread into a greased pan and bake for 20 minutes at 425°.

This recipe is based on the one in the Moosewood Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 1977).

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