I never cease to be amazed by peoples' reactions to Mom. Sometimes she embarrasses the hell out of me. Today, when we were in the bathroom at the mall, she went up to a complete stranger who does not speak English and started singing, “It’s too darn hot!” I was washing and drying my hands and couldn’t quite head her off in time. But wouldn’t you know it, this lovely woman praised Mom’s voice and thanked her for singing.
Unfortunately, Mom often makes snide comments about people.
“That woman has no face,” she declared as we passed a sour looking individual.
“Look at that man’s size,” she marveled at a large man ahead of us in the grocery store. “He should go on a diet.”
I tell Mom that we have to be pleasant to as many people as we can. I think it’s more reassurance for myself that the woman I learned kindness from can still be kind herself.
And yet for all my embarrassment, Mom does have a positive effect on people. One of the workers stacking vegetables in the store stopped to say hello. He got more than he bargained for because Mom started talking incoherently to him. I don’t know if he realized, though, and after a few minutes of very friendly interchange, I moved her along.
As we were leaving the coffee shop, Mom called out a friendly goodbye to two middle-aged men at the next table. And they rose to the occasion, thanking her for her greeting. Again, I don’t know what they saw—a shuffling old woman with her daughter and caregiver in tow, or a joyful smiling individual who clearly was overcoming her difficulties. Or maybe she is both of these.
When a man begging for change stopped us, Mom immediately opened her purse to find some coins. I told him she didn’t have money, and when she offered him her tissues, he thanked her anyway, blessing her with long life and happiness.
Mom also connects well with children. This past Shabbat at the synagogue, as we were walking into the building, one of my friend’s sons, aged 5, came up to say hello. Mom took his hand and invited him to come inside with us. We sat down in a row of seats, and he and Mom had about a 15 minute whispered conversation where they read some kids’ books and talked together. I have no idea what they said to each other, but I was in awe of their connection. Like minds….
I guess I must stop feeling awkward when I’m with Mom in a public place and just let her do her thing. I’ll be there to interfere if need be, but these interactions remind me that she can still handle short one-on-one exchanges, even if they are often non-sensical. She should be blessed with long life and perpetual joy.
Vegetables can’t talk back. They won’t tell you to stop eating chocolate or clean up your act. Or even break into song in unusual places. And, if you eat them, they’ll be kind to you. All sorts of mushrooms have been appearing on my grocery shelves. I made this dish with large white button mushrooms.
Spinach Mushroom Kugel
Something warm and full of taste for these cold winter days.
1 bag 200 gram fresh spinach
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onions and garlic in a large pan. When onions begin to brown add mushroom and spinach. Mix carefully to keep spinach in pan. Cover pan and cook for five minutes. Remove from flame. In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Add in spinach mushroom and stir well. Pour into oiled casserole dish. Sprinkle top of kugel with paprika. Bake at 350° for up to one hour until kugel browns on top and sides.