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  • Miriam Green

A Circumscribed Life


Whenever I’m with my extended family at an event, I always feel torn between my sense of responsibility and my desire to enjoy myself. The brit of my grandson was no exception. (Yes, I have a new grandson and his name is Roi Michael, and I am so thrilled to be a grandmother!)

I sat with my parents, making sure Mom was never alone. I took her to the bathroom, helped her find the tissues in her purse, surreptitiously removed from her purse the fancy cloth napkin she insisted was hers, soothed her anger when she denied that we were attending her great grandson’s brit, and prevented her from stealing the silverware (really).

Taking photos was difficult. Mom’s attention kept wandering, which annoyed the photographer. The subtlety of including or excluding her from specific photos was lost on her. The fact that my mom is now a great grandmother was also incomprehensible to her.

I was not the only one taking care of Mom; my dad and our lovely caregiver Sahlee were also there. Mom enjoyed interacting with the guests, including those she’d never met before. She cooed and awed over the baby. She even spoke French to my daughter-in-law’s French speaking relatives. Language, like music, seems to be holding steady in her memory.

I divided my time between Mom and the other guests. I allowed myself time to interact with my son and daughter-in-law, and I held the sweetest baby imaginable.

There are currently five generations of my family alive at the same time. What an amazing concept. My grandmother Millie, at 100 years old, couldn't be with us. Her life is circumscribed by her lack of mobility, much as baby Roi's life is. She can still hold conversations, but even those are fraught with miscommunication. Still, with my parents and in-laws there, plus two great grandmothers on my daughter-in-law's side, this baby had six great grandparents present at his circumcision.

A generation is typically separated by 22 to 32 years. My grandmother is 100, my mother is in her mid-70s, I'm in my 50s, my son is in his 20s, and baby Roi is, well, 1½ weeks old. I've become so conscious of my age. I'm definitely getting older. I've probably lived more than half my life. With the birth of this scrumptious baby, however, I realize that 50 is only the cusp of experience.

I am saddened beyond words to think that Mom will never completely share in this baby's life. The lively, interactive, loving grandmother that my kids remember just doesn't exist anymore. When I showed her photos from the brit just one day later, she didn't remember anything.

"That's me," she said. Then, after a short pause, "Whose baby is that?"

My life is divided between the sorrows of Alzheimer's and the joys of my growing family. And yet, despite those sorrows, I carry an ineffable optimism that what lies beyond is exquisite.

Making new food discoveries is almost as exciting as meeting your new grandchild. Well, not really, but for me, eating kohlrabi for the first time was definitely fun. Kohlrabi is a turnip-shaped vegetable that is part of the cabbage family. It has a mild, sweet flavor and a crisp, crunchy texture. Once you’ve peeled it, you can cook it or just eat it raw.

Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad

For some reason, though it grows throughout the year, I associate kohlrabi with the hot months of Israel. Here’s a simple salad that will brighten up any table.

1 kohlrabi, peeled and sliced

2 carrots, peeled and cut into strips

¼ cup fresh parsley

¼ cup oil

2 Tbsp vinegar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Peel and slice kohlrabi and carrot into small strips. In closed container, mix oil, vinegar and spices. In a small bowl, pour dressing over vegetables. Add parsley. Toss. Can marinate overnight or serve immediately.

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