A Day to Remember
Mom’s attention fluctuates greatly. We are walking outside noticing the red hibiscus when she veers off course and tells me she’s looking for something in her bag. I stand patiently while Mom opens every zipper pocket, takes out things she’s squirreled away—like a bottle top or three pretzels wrapped in a napkin—then puts them back into their respective spaces. If for a fleeting moment she knew what she was looking for, the image or idea of that thing is now long gone.
“Here’s a tissue,” I say, trying to find a way to redeem her frustration. I pull one out of my bag and hand it to her.
“Oh, thank you,” she says.
Mom wipes her nose, stuffs the tissue in some pocket or other, hangs the bag back on her shoulder, and we continue walking.
We make our way through town window shopping and happily commenting on everything around us. I’m surprised by Mom’s coherence.
“If you could choose one item of clothing to buy in these stores, what would it be?” she challenges me.
“I don’t know,” I admit. “Something has to speak to me in order for me to want to try it on.”
“Do you want spots?”
“Polka dots?” I ask, trying to figure out what she means. “No, I don’t need those.”
“Are you sure? Maybe you do.”
Ok. This is getting strange. I change the subject as we walk down the crowded city streets. I can feel Mom getting anxious about the number of people around us. I keep her hand in mine, not only to provide comfort, but also support. It seems she’s been tripping over uneven sidewalks lately. My dad calls to tell us he’s finished his errand at the bank and we should meet up in the city center. As we near our destination, Mom spies Daddy standing in the center of the walkway before I do. She suddenly rushes off as I start to protest; when I see where she’s going, I relax a little. We joke that Daddy is the center of the universe around which all other objects—and people—orbit.
Is it a blessing in disguise to have such a short attention span? If Mom is angry, her anger is apt to defuse rapidly, and she has no memory of it. If we remind her to walk with someone, she forgets that too, or is annoyed at us for trying to control her. (As if we could.)
Today marks Israel’s Memorial Day. This commemoration is characterized by two public sirens wailing for one minute at night and two minutes in the morning. The day is somber and is felt on both a personal and national level. When the sirens sound, the whole country comes to a remarkable standstill. I’ve been with Mom when the sirens sound. She dutifully stands at attention, but she doesn’t know why. She can’t understand why there are so many flags flying on buildings, on passing cars, or even on her own balcony.
Tonight, Israel transitions from mourning to celebrating with the start of the 68th Israeli Independence Day. Perhaps the country’s emotional swing is similar to Mom’s fluctuating attention span—we have only a fleeting ability to hold onto the sadness of this Memorial Day. I’m hoping that as we shift from somber reflection to joyous celebration, Mom’s mood can also swing to glee at the beautiful flags that adorn our homes and our hearts. The difference is, we remember.
Tabouli or tabbouleh is a Mediterranean salad traditionally made of bulgur, tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. You can substitute quinoa or rice or even couscous for the bulgur. Or, if you want a low calorie tabouli, mince fresh cauliflower to create the same texture. When you know you’ll be eating a lot at your Independence Day picnic, fill up on this dish instead of some of the more fattening foods on offer.
This tabouli has a wonderful crunchy texture. The addition of mint gives it a startlingly cool taste. Even when I think I’m making it only for myself, everyone at our table enjoys this dish.
1 small head cauliflower, checked, cleaned and cut into florets
2 cucumbers, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
2-3 spring onion, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
12 to 15 mint leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
On pulse setting, mince cauliflower florets in a food processor. Add garlic if using. Remove to bowl. Chop tomatoes, cucumbers and onions into tiny pieces. Add to cauliflower. Chop parsley and mint. Toss in olive oil, lemon juice and spices. Mix well and serve.