The hardest aspect of growing old or being sick is recognizing our limitations. What we could do yesterday we may not be able to do today. And there’s no guarantee that what we can do today we’ll be able to do tomorrow. If, as (somewhat) rational adults, we have the ability to acknowledge our boundaries, then it is up to us to swallow our pride, put aside our anger, and bravely ask for help.
My mom cannot ask for help. Alzheimer’s has robbed her of that ability.
I write this as I sit in the quiet comfort of my own home discomforted by what I saw today when I was with Mom. Unless compelled by circumstance, who thinks to examine the physical condition of their parent? Our bodies are intimately our own. Why would I want to intrude into that private space? Certainly not for my own pleasure. Who knew that Mom had a huge yellow bruise on her knee or that her toe nails had grown to monstrous proportions?
As it happens, I had scheduled a pedicure appointment for mom while I was with her. Mom’s moods are so mercurial I wanted to make sure she was ok during the appointment. When the technician took off Mom’s shoes, one of her nails was completely bloody and there was blood between her toes and on her sock. We were both shocked to see it. We quickly discovered that one nail had grown so ragged it had pierced the skin on the toe next to it. The blood had congealed under the nail, turning it temporarily black.
It was pointless asking Mom if her toes had been hurting her. They must have been. I wondered how she could have walked through the obvious pain.
As I bent to see her toes, I noticed a big bruise on Mom’s knee. Daddy had told me she’d fallen last week and was still complaining of pain in her side. Here was another sign of her fall.
We did not intentionally overlook Mom’s health issues. We just forgot that Mom needs us more than she’s able to express. The hard part is not only forcefully intruding on her privacy but also getting her to allow us to help her. Thankfully, Mom only grumbled a little bit during the pedicure. We kept her busy singing songs. Before we left the salon, we made a follow-up appointment for next month.
When I walked Mom back to her apartment, it was raining hard. Our twin red umbrellas turned inside out in the strong wind and I had to literally drag Mom across the street as she screeched in terror because her fear of cars had rooted her to the sidewalk. To change our mood, we spent the rest of our time together signing rain songs, playing with musical instruments, and dancing around the room to “I Feel Pretty.” Thank God for her short memory.
The festival of Purim is just around the corner, and I’ve started to think about baking some hamentashen, or oznei haman as they are called in Hebrew. Here’s an alternative to Purim sweet treats. Made with a filling of sautéed vegetables, they are a delicious accompaniment to any meal.
Savory Vegetable-filled Hamentashen
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup oil
1 tsp white vinegar
1 egg (for coating finished product)
2 medium sized carrots, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen thawed spinach, drained
1 tsp basil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl whisk oil, vinegar, egg and salt. Add flour and baking powder, kneading until dough is formed. Set aside. In a frying pan, sauté onion and garlic until onion becomes translucent. Add carrots and zucchini. Cover pan and let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Add spinach and spices. Simmer until spinach is cooked through. On a floured surface, roll out dough and using a circular bowl or cup, cut out as many circles as you can. Place a small amount of vegetable filling in the center of the dough circle. Lift on three sides and pinched closed in a triangular shape. Transfer hamentash to a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Gather remaining dough and roll again to cut more circles. Brush with egg. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until dough begins to brown. Can make them small or large.