My Mother, My Teacher
There it is again. That small pause as I try to retrieve a word. Ah, ah, um, think. What letter does it start with? What are its associations? What does it sound like? It’s not there. I can’t get it. Can I create a sentence with an understandable alternative? Wait. Wait. I’ve got it. My whirling brain picks out the exact word I want. Did anyone notice that gap in our conversation?
I know I don’t have Alzheimer’s. But I worry that I may one day succumb to it. I read an article about a man who was diagnosed with early onset at the ripe old age of 50. It started with mood swings and was misdiagnosed as depression before his wife finally figured it out. Now, several years later, this man doesn’t know his own children.
We say goodbye a little at a time to the people we love. Mom is there in body but not in mind. And as she slips away from us, her memories, her life force, her very existence, become hollow. I shower her with love because my feelings towards her have not changed. We are bound by the inexplicable bonds that exist between a parent and a child. She is still my mom.
This was week two of Mommy-sitting. Mom’s routine of walking through the city, visiting my grandmother (her mom), and attending the weekly Monday music concert are the things that keep her tethered to the present.
Yesterday, after lunch, as I recited the blessing for eating bread, I added the part about eating at my parents’ table. “God of compassion, bless my father and my mother, my teachers, hosts of this household.” At first, I felt sad saying those words. Is Mom still my teacher? How can she be? She taught me so many things when I was growing up, some quite practical (like how to check eggs in a carton before you buy them), others intangible (that children thrive when you love them unconditionally). But now?
I can honestly say that Mom is still teaching me new things. I am learning to accept her reality, to explore ways of stimulating her and keeping her active. I am learning that time can shift as past memories become the present; and that laughter is a precious commodity. And I am learning to let go of the frustration I feel in losing myself when I am with her.
While last week was relatively easy to be wholly with my parents, this week was more difficult. The kids are on vacation, and I wasn’t with them. Plus there are Passover preparations to oversee. I am truly part of the sandwich generation, caught between my obligations to my children (and husband) and to my parents.
I have a day and a half to make everything come together before my parents arrive at my house for Seder. Perhaps once Passover starts, I will experience the freedom of leaving the metaphysical Egypt to find myself in this time of renewal.
The house is almost ready for Passover. As soon as the kitchen is up and running, the first things I always make are matza rolls. These rolls are for the kids during that in-between stage when we can’t eat bread, but we also can’t eat matza. They are good with everything—tuna, butter and jam, cheese, even cold cuts.
When these rolls start cooking, your kitchen will smell like Passover. For a more gourmet taste, jazz up these matza rolls with onion and garlic. Eat them hot out of the oven with a little butter. Yum! Yup, Passover is almost here.
2 cups matza meal
1½ cups water
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup oil
Measure matza meal and baking powder into a bowl. Remove to the side. In a small pot, boil water, sugar and salt. When boiled, pour water over matza meal and let stand covered for five minutes. Whisk eggs and oil and add to matza meal. Mix well. Using your hands, form round patties. Bake in a muffin tin or on a greased cookie sheet at 350° for 50 minutes.
I'll be on vacation next week, so the blog will be back in two weeks. Happy Passover!