Let’s get this straight. I do not want your pity. I don’t want you to commiserate on how difficult it must be, this Alzheimer’s, this dealing with the slow disintegration of my beloved mom. I already know it’s difficult. And you do, too. Please don't dwell on those dark and obvious challenges.
And I will try not to pity you over the burden you carry, whatever it may be.
We all carry some hardship that shadows all we do in our lives. The key is to acknowledge it, to openly talk about it, to accept and somehow find a way to be positive in the face of it.
If I cried all day (instead of just occasionally) about how disjointed Mom’s conversation is, how unsteady she’s become in her walking, how nasty and incomprehensible her temper is, I’d miss the truly beautiful parts of her. The way she hugged me when I arrived and said our skirts looked exactly alike (they didn’t, not even close) and launched into a version of “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story. How she stood with joy in front of the TV conducting along with Zubin Mehta. Or the excitement she expressed at purchasing a new bag just big enough to hold all her tissues, the other one having inexplicably disappeared along with her keys and wallet.
I want to keep Mom in the sunshine. I want to distract her when she’s angry and bring her back to joy, to a few moments of bright connection for as long as that is possible. I will do it knowing there is more pain and sadness to come, knowing there is an inevitability to this disease—as there is in all our lives, whether we live disease-free or not.
I’m not saying it won’t be tough—or sometimes impossible—to find my way through with laughter, song, and family love. I’m not suggesting I won’t despair or feel the heartbreak of this burden. What I am saying is that if I can make it past the sorrow, the self-pity, the debilitating pain (both emotional and physical), the world’s beauty can lift me up, even momentarily.
Do ask how my day was, whether anything special happened, what I accomplished, what projects I’m working on. I won’t begrudge those who care about me the opportunity to help get me through when things seem the most dark and lonely.
Be prepared to listen. Life’s beauty is most easily perceived and valued when shared.
Momentous events are taking place this week. Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification. It is also the anniversary of my father-in-law’s passing 31 years ago, and my daughter’s Hebrew birthday. She’s turning 20! In addition to all this, the festival of Shavuot is next week. Originally a harvest festival, Shavuot also commemorates the giving of the Torah. It is traditional to eat dairy on Shavuot. There are several reasons for this, one being that the numerical value of milk in Hebrew is 40, the same number of days Moses took to bring down the Ten Commandments.
I often joke that my daughter can’t really be mine because she doesn’t like chocolate. (I know, right?) But it just so happens that she loves cheese cake. Here’s a simple no-bake recipe that doubles as a birthday cake and a dessert on Shavuot.
Easy No-Bake Cheesecake
This recipe is simply the easiest and least caloric of any cheesecake I’ve made. It is not overly sweet, which is good, and you can divide it up into portions based on the size of the biscuits. Of course, you may want to eat more than a 12th of this cake. Go ahead! I had a hard time finding a suitable sized pan for this cheese cake. I ended up making it in two small pans and freezing one.
24 petit beurre biscuits (may use chocolate)
1 80 gr package instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
500 gr soft white cheese (quark)
Pour milk into a small mixing bowl. Dip the first layer of biscuits in milk and lay them in the bottom of the pan. Add sugar and vanilla to the milk, then whisk in pudding mix. Add white cheese and stir till smooth. Pour half the cheese mixture over cookies. Refrigerate remaining cheese mixture for ½ hour until it thickens. Place 2nd layer of cookies in pan. Remove cheese from fridge and pour over evenly. Decorate with fruit or chocolate shavings. Let cool in fridge for 3 hours before serving.