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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I think we should amend the idiom based on Psalm 8 to read, “Out of the mouth of babes—and Alzheimer’s sufferers—comes wisdom.” With Mom perhaps it’s not exactly wisdom per se but rather observations straight from her altered reality. She uses her limited language and memory resources to convey a message. Her statements offer clues as to how I can reach her and hint at how she is feeling. Here are two examples from today’s visit.

When we were eating lunch, Mom kept taking off her glasses.

“Don’t you want to wear them?” I asked. “They help you see well.”

“These are not my glasses. They belong on the table. My glasses are here,” Mom responded, pointing animatedly towards her nose.

Daddy tried to put them back on her. And again she took them off, complaining that they didn’t help her to see at all. That’s when we both noticed how smeared the lenses were. Ah, I thought, no wonder she didn’t want to wear them. Mom was telling us that her glasses needed cleaning. I realized I had to be open to her at times inexplicable behavior to understand the subtext of her message.

Later, when it was time for me to go home, I helped Mom into the front passenger seat of the car and buckled her in. She looked at me standing by the door and became quite concerned.

“Where are you going to sit? Come, you can sit on my lap. Right here,” she gushed, indicating her knees.

I laughed out loud. What a preposterous idea. It lacked all comprehension of cars, my age, my weight, the law—everything that would mark this as a dangerous suggestion. What it conveyed, however, was her desire to protect me and accommodate me, her love for me shining forth in this most generous of offers.

I gave her a kiss then slid into the back seat. I knew she wouldn’t remember our time together, but I was confident in knowing we’d connected on an emotional level. I hoped it would resonate with her for a longer interval and be harder to forget than a humorous car incident.

I said my goodbyes when they dropped me off at the bus station and watched Daddy drive away, back to their apartment for Mom’s afternoon nap.

Maybe it’s the influence of our Mexican friends, or finding really good whole wheat tortillas in the store, but I’ve been making refried beans quite often these days. They are easy to make, especially if you use canned beans, plenty nutritious, hearty and just plain yummy.

Refried Beans

It is not difficult to make this dish from scratch. Soak one to two cups of beans overnight, changing the water when you can and then cook covered in water until soft. Add 1 tsp baking soda to hasten the process. Mash as per directions below. And make sure to add some pepper flakes or other hot spices to spice up your beans.

1 medium onion, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic

1 can 580 grams spicy kidney beans

1 can 400 grams white or black beans

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

Salt and pepper to taste


Sauté garlic and onions in frying pan until onions begin to brown. Add peppers and cook until peppers begin to soften. Empty canned beans in a large bowl and mash using a hand potato masher. Add beans to pepper dish and cook until beans are hot. Serve on a tortilla with salsa, diced tomatoes and cucumbers, avocado, strips of lettuce, and grated cheese.

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