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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

Oh, The Places You'll Go

Here’s a new one. Mom absolutely refused to open her mouth when she brushed her teeth. She stood in the bathroom brushing the outside of her teeth, When my dad suggested she also brush the insides, she started screeching in very harsh tones, teeth clenched in the extreme. She was trying to say words, but they remained indiscernible growls.

Daddy and I were both surprised. We shared a startled moment then the gears in my head started working out ways to calm her down. Daddy backed off his insistence that she brush properly, and I changed the subject, suggesting we go for a walk. I reminded myself that the world would not end if Mom didn’t brush her teeth.

And so we went out for coffee. We sat in the sunshine with our backs to a small water fountain which intrigued Mom. She asked me a dozen times where the water was going. I told her it circulated around and around (just like her mind circling the same question). The weather was delightful, even hot at 23° C. Mom commented on how busy the streets and sidewalks were and she seemed genuinely pleased to be sitting there.

After walking through the city, we met Daddy for an early lunch at their favorite sea-side café. Everything was fine until I had to take Mom to the bathroom. The restaurant was in the middle of renovations so we had to walk to the adjoining restaurant to use their facilities. To say that they were unclean wouldn’t speak to the problems we encountered. There was water on the floor and one of the toilets was inoperable. We waited for the other stall to become available. First, the door opened inwards, so Mom had a hard time squeezing herself in the stall. Then I realized there wasn’t enough toilet paper. I found some in the men’s stall and brought it to her. She refused to take it, using the little she had. Except the door was closed, so I don’t know how she took care of herself.

When she finally came out, her skirt was all twisted. And the jacket she was wearing was bunched up around her waist. After straightening her out, she decided she had to take off the jacket. But her purse was over her shoulder. We were crammed into a small space and her jacket was getting caught in the strap. She refused to take off the purse. I managed to talk her through taking off one sleeve then the other and then I slipped the jacket out of the shoulder strap. Phew. Except that after she washed her hands, she decided she had to wear her jacket again, despite it being overly warm. The bag ended up being zipped inside the jacket, but I decided this was one thing that didn’t need fixing.

We walked the short way home and Mom decided to lie down. That gave me a few minutes to unwind before heading home. Of course, when she heard me speaking with my dad, she popped out of bed again. We shared a lovely long hug and then I was out the door.

Sometimes my time with Mom is less than scintillating. But my place is there beside her for as long as she is here.

When a friend brought me a bag of dates from her kibbutz date fields, I decided to turn some of them into date spread. I sorted through the bag opening each date and checking it inside. Some were unusable due to mold or bugs. But most were plump, appetizing Medjool dates. Such a simple recipe yielded the tastiest date spread I have ever eaten. I offer it in honor of Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish new year for trees which falls this Shabbat.

This week also marks a milestone in my life. My youngest child, Hillel, is turning 18. I am thrilled and relieved to realize my children are all adults now.

Date Spread

This date spread tastes nothing like the sugary kind you buy in the stores. The golden brown paste is flavorful and healthy. Try it with a thin layer of peanut butter.

3-4 cups dates, halved

1 tsp vanilla

Boiling water


Cut dates in half and remove pits. Place in bowl. Pour boiling water over dates and let sit overnight. When dates are soft, place in blender with vanilla and half the water and blend until smooth. For a thinner paste, add more liquid.

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