I cannot take care of both my mom and my 1½-year-old grandson at the same time. Perhaps this is an obvious observation, but it became apparent when my son and daughter-in-law left for a long weekend—and left their precious cargo with us.
I was thrilled to babysit, though I had forgotten how much intensive energy is involved in watching a small child.
I was alone with them both for half an hour. We were in the safe confines of my house and Mom was enjoying watching Roi’s antics. But I breathed a sigh of immense relief when my dad came to pick Mom up and take her home. She had just indicated that she must leave me now, though she was sorry to do so. Yes, the door was locked. No, she could not leave unaccompanied. And yet the fear of having to split my attention, perhaps miss some dangerous antics by either of them, was almost too much to bear. How would I have protected both of them? Who would I have chosen to shelter?
Is it fair to regard Alzheimer’s patients as children? Alzheimer’s makes them naïve, simple, trusting, and emotional. It also makes them angry, opinionated, demanding, and off-kilter. As with a child, we forgive them their strange or annoying behavior.
I think of Mom as a child. She shines at little things, she throws tantrums, she is unpredictable. Today at the mall, as she entered a stall in the bathroom, she looked at me in fear and said, “Don’t leave me!” And yet, she bristles at being treated like a child.
We cannot leave Mom alone. We cannot trust her to remember how to function in the world.
Mom is an adult. She has a past filled with experiences. She understands adult concepts (when she is lucid).
It is a terrible trail to navigate, this intensive interaction with a devolving woman. For the biggest difference between my grandson and my mom is that while my grandson makes huge leaps in understanding and development, Mom is cognitively shutting down.
I hope that as Roi continues to visit and interacts with Mom, he will remember Savta Naomi as the great-grandmother who loves to laugh and sing. I hope I can pass down to him all the wonderful nursery rhymes and games she taught me and then my kids. I hope, too, that there are good years ahead for us all to enjoy being a four-generational family. And if it happens that I am alone with these two special people in my life, I hope I have the wherewithal to deal with them both effectively and gently.
I was thrilled to host three of my “girlfriends” for dinner the other night. We drank wine, talked about our lives, and ate yummy food. In addition to the onion pie I made, I tried a new salad brimming in taste from the combination of avocados and citrus fruits. Of course, it didn’t really matter how the salad tasted. What was important was sharing our joys and burdens in a loving, life-affirming camaraderie.
Spinach Avocado Citrus Salad
This salad can be made ahead of time, but pour on the vinaigrette only when you’re ready to serve it.
200 gram bag baby spinach leaves (minus 1 handful for the vinaigrette)
2 oranges/grapefruits/clementines, peeled and segmented
5 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
¼ red onion, slivered
½ cup vinaigrette
1 cup combination spinach (see above) and parsley
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon or lime juice
¼ cup orange juice
½ tsp mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and remove rind and pith and segment oranges. Remove also any seeds and the skin of the segments. (You may use a combination of orange and grapefruit.) Cut avocadoes in half, remove seed, and score each half with a knife. Once scored, use both hands to turn the avocado half inside out. Use a knife to slice along the bottom closest to the avocado skin and let avocado cubes drop into salad bowl. Toss in bowl with remaining vegetables. In a blender, combine vinaigrette ingredients and blend until liquid. Poor ½ cup over the salad. Serve immediately. Note: There will be more vinaigrette than you need. Store it up to 3 days in the fridge and use it on another salad!