The New Kids on the Block
They’re he-ere! I can’t quite believe it. All the planning and agonizing has finally come to fruition. My parents are now officially my neighbors.
The noise of the move, boxes strewn across the floor, the unfamiliarity of her surroundings—all overwhelmed Mom. I took her to my house for several hours where we pet the cat, drank tea and read children’s books.
Mom wasn’t happy about returning to her new home, but when she saw my dad she visibly relaxed. The strangeness of the day must have worn her out because she agreed to go to sleep with little difficulty after dinner. Once she was sleeping, the rest of us, including my brother Simon, our lovely caregiver Sahli, and my husband Jeff, made a huge effort to unpack as much as we could. We knew that the more orderly her surroundings, the calmer she’d be.
Taking it all in, I actually cried tears of relief. They were finally here. When Simon showed me some of the family videos he’d put on my father’s computer, including one of Mom giving a speech at Simon’s daughter’s baby naming, we realized once again how devastating our loss; she was once a thoughtful and charming competent woman.
There was also a video of a visit Simon and my sister-in-law Sharon made to Israel in 1996. The camera was on Sharon reading to our two-year-old son, but I heard myself in the background berating Mom for some obscure annoyance. I cringed to hear myself interact with her.
As much as Mom has changed, I have changed, too—or at least I hope I have. Dealing with Mom has made me kinder and more open to individuals with handicaps. I pray that I have the continued patience to interact with Mom on a more loving basis, one in which her needs are recognized, and in which my annoyances are held at bay. As Joni Mitchell so aptly wrote, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
Mom has not been quiet. She has stormed angrily about yelling obscenities, mostly at herself. I believe it’s her new, strange surroundings that are bothering her, which in itself is somewhat strange as she didn’t really remember her old, familiar surroundings either.
We will play this out one day at a time. As of now, my “Spidey” senses are tingling all the time, like a mother who goes about her day with part of her mind constantly preoccupied with how her children are doing. I will do what I can, and somehow we will find the balance of being together and being apart. Right now, especially with Simon here, I crave to be with them. We went shopping for a few odds and ends, and it felt right for the four of us to be together. There is something innately comforting in being with your nuclear family. And it only gets better because this weekend, all my kids will be home. I want them to see my parents as I see them—loving, generous, quirky, and oh so young at heart.
Welcome home to the new kids on the block!
I received a new gadget for my birthday, courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law. It’s a Sharper Image 4 in 1 Chop and Slice, a hand-operated contraption that chops anything in seconds (including fingers, if you’re not careful). I decided to use it to make an Israeli salad. It literally cut (pun intended) the prep time in about half.
I had always heard that Israeli salad was created in the early years of the state and popularized by kibbutzim as a way to compensate for not having any lettuce. It appears, however, that the basis for this chopped tomato and cucumber salad is actually a Palestinian rural salad, and exists in other cultures, too. Indians add ginger and finely chopped green chili peppers.
Being American, it was hard to switch to creating a tiny chopped salad that contained no lettuce. Even as fancier salads have gained popularity in Israeli restaurants, this “chopped salad,” is still preferred by many. I make it the way my kids enjoy it. I hope you do, too.
2 small tomatoes, diced
2 small cucumbers, diced
1 red pepper, diced
¼ onion, diced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp crushed garlic
Parsley and mint to taste optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Dice all vegetables and place in a bowl. Add lemon juice, oil and spices. Mix and serve.