My wonderful Auntie Barbara is visiting from England. She is full of laughter and the promise of adventure.
It means, though, that Mom is more confused about who I am. I stopped correcting her long ago when she called me Barbara or introduced me as her sister. As long as there is love between us, it doesn’t matter who she thinks I am.
Mom’s access to her memories is jagged. One minute she’ll rail that she doesn’t have a sister. The next, she and Barbara are fluidly singing songs from Carmen Jones, a movie that came out in 1954.
This is Barbara’s first trip back since her mother—my grandmother Millie—passed away in January. While Daddy took her to see the gravesite, I took Mom to town to run some errands. We decided it was not wise to expose Mom to the loss of her mother again, just in case she understood this time and was affected emotionally. Mostly, though, Mom only mentions her mom in the abstract and has not once asked to visit her.
We were outside by 8:30 am, even before most stores were open. Mom insisted on wearing a sweater despite the heat (it went up to almost 100° F in Netanya), plus she took along her bag, which is virtually empty, and her hat.
We found beauty and friendship in the most interesting places. We walked along the paved cliff top stopping to notice small multi-colored pansies and snapdragons, the way the pergolas threw checkered shade upon the path, the sea’s green-hued waves down below, bathers, and umbrellas, women in flip-flops, orange hair, shuttered shops, and the green trees giving us shade. Mom randomly talked to strangers and cooed at babies. Some women responded to her overtures with their own enthusiastic greetings, and Mom literally radiated happiness in those moments of contact.
We had walked a good hour by the time we made it to the coffee shop. Mom was so thirsty she didn’t even fuss about drinking "tasteless" water. And then we were on our way again, making it home by 12:00 pm, with new insoles for her winter shoes and a cart full of groceries. I even managed to cut her nails; she was so wiped out by walking that she affably agreed to watch a musical while I snipped away.
Mom climbed into bed at about 1:00 pm with her sweater still on, though I did manage to remove her glasses before I kissed her goodbye. I was pleased that despite a few snide and angry moments, we had spent a pleasant morning together, and though she won’t remember it, I am grateful for the joy we experienced.
Here’s a bright and fresh tri-colored pepper salad that will boost your taste buds and provide a cool crunchy delight to whatever else you make. Plus it reminds me of the colors of the flowers I saw with Mom today.
Tri-Colored Pepper Salad
This colorful salad is a gift to your eyes as well as your palate.
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange pepper, thinly sliced
½ purple onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1½ Tbsp vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice each pepper into small, thin strips and place in a bowl. Add thinly sliced onion, dill and garlic, salt and pepper. In a small container, combine oil and vinegar. Shake well and pour over peppers. Mix and serve. Can be made up to a day before serving and kept in the fridge.