It was so much fun catching up with my aunt Barbara—Mom’s real sister—who is visiting with her partner Brian that I almost forgot to interact with Mom. We did our share of laughing and singing, but my focus was directed elsewhere, and I was reminded again how fragile, how tenuous is Mom’s connection to reality.
These are heady days for Israel. Today is Yom Hazikaron, the national day of remembrance for soldiers and victims of terror. Last night, at the start of Memorial Day, we were preparing dinner. Mom loved the bustle of helping in the kitchen. With their rudimentary understanding of Hebrew, it didn’t make sense to watch the national ceremony on television; we opted instead to play the game Upwards. Mom sat with us as we played, but this game is now beyond her capabilities. At about 9:30 p.m., Mom went to bed. She felt suddenly exhausted, despite sleeping in the afternoon.
As we stood outside today on the footbridge at the entrance to Netanya, we watched the traffic on the highway beneath us and waited for the siren, when the entire country comes to a stand-still—pedestrians stop in their tracks, drivers stop and stand by their vehicles, office workers stand by their desks—for the two minutes of silent reflection on the tragically heavy price we’ve paid with the lives of our dear soldiers and the victims of terror over the past seven decades. Did Mom understand what we were hearing? She stood silently next to me. When the siren was over, she kissed me and said, “Please God, till next year.”
Now we are in the transition from Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day, to Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day. We shift from mourning to celebrating, from heartbreak to joy. Though she may not be able to verbalize it, Mom knows these mood swings, too. I often watch her move from anger to laughter and back again without understanding the reasons for the transition. There is something deeply internal and intense going on in her brain that we cannot comprehend. The most we can do is guide her to a better place with personal attention and patience.
So, what did we make last night for dinner? We made a tasty, flakey salmon similar to the recipe below.
Poached Salmon with Rosemary
This is an elegant and simple recipe. So simple that even my dad can make it.
4 salmon fillets
½ cup water
½ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup white wine
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Place salmon fillets skin side down in a large pot with water. Add oil, lemon juice and wine, and spices. Cover and cook on stovetop for about 15 minutes or until fish flakes when you cut it.