“These stairs are getting slower and slower,” Mom comments as we walk down the three flights to the street. I laugh at her expressive way of telling me she's moving slowly. I am like an anthropologist discovering the true meaning of her words. When we walk past a kitchen wares store, Mom says, “I remember the first time we went to look for frying pans together.” I decide she's telling me that she enjoys my company.
Mom is using her words to suggest that she has a connection to the past, that her memory is somehow intact: The stairs were once faster; in the past she bought frying pans. But I think this is rote behavior bolstered by association. Most of the time, Mom is squarely in the present. Can you imagine your every moment disconnected to the one before it and the one to come? That's where Mom is. There are feelings she intuits, people she recognizes, places that look familiar, but nothing to anchor her to what came before. There is only the now. We walk together through the city like kids at a fun-fair—everything sparkles, everything amuses.
When we meet Daddy for lunch, we talk about getting older. Daddy assures me they'll move to their new house near me before he turns 80. “How old am I,” Mom asks? “We must go over my age because I think I'm 180.”
Just when I'm despairing about Mom's fading skills, she'll start singing. And her memory is whole again. I always join in, despite my lousy voice. Who can resist “We're off to see the Wizard,” as we're strolling arm in arm?
This week marks the holiday of Shavuot, literally “weeks” in Hebrew. And in fact, one of the themes of Shavuot is counting and marking time. It's a bit like declaring that clichéd but true aphorism each and every day for seven weeks: Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Don't take your days for granted. Relish their unique blessings. Live in the moment; a lot can happen there. I'll take that positive approach over the bleak future which is Alzheimer's any day.
It is traditional to eat dairy dishes on Shavuot. I'll be making cannelloni, salmon with dill sauce, and, of course, cheesecake. You don't have to eat the cheeses with the highest fat content to enjoy the richness of this holiday's meals. Here's a lighter cheesecake that is based on a recipe my mom got off the back of a Cool Whip package. It was one of the ones I found in the cache of recipes my dad gave me on Passover.
Light Chocolate Cheesecake
What could be easier than folding chocolate pudding into whipped cream? Yum. If you freeze your cheesecake, remember to take it out to defrost half an hour before serving.
250 gr petit beurre, chocolate or vanilla
100 gr butter
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
500 gr 9% whipping cream
3 containers of diet dark chocolate pudding, approx. 300 grams
(low calorie, low fat)
Break cookies and place in blender with softened butter and sugar. Blend until ingredients combine to form a “dough.” Pat crumbs into bottom of a spring form pan, leaving aside ½ cup for topping. Beat whipped cream according to instructions. When firm peaks form, mix in chocolate pudding. Pour over crust. Crumble remaining cookie crumbs on top. Remove belt around pan base before serving.