Music, Food of Love
There are some days when I feel my mom so intensely, it is uncanny. Today was such a day. I woke up in a bad mood, as if the wind and rain from the last few days had somehow moved inside of me, as if I was utterly disconnected to the world around me—my singular world with its myriad of blessings—as if I was being buffeted by great gusts of weather that allowed me to see only grey, despite the sun shining in a bright blaze.
I got to work only to discover that the computer, which I thought had been fixed, was still not working. After banging on the keyboard with frustration—yeah, literally—I headed home to try to work from there.
Except all I really wanted to do was visit my mom. I wanted her embrace, her comfort. I know she can’t comfort me anymore, but perhaps I could cheer myself up by giving her comfort.
When I got in the car, the song on the radio was “Lola,” by The Kinks. I was seven when that came out and I heard it frequently because Mom liked it. I associate that song with her.
Next up was a song by the Beach Boys. Man, did Mom love them. “Good Vibrations” came out in 1966 and accompanied her as she gave birth to my brother, Simon.
What are the odds of an Israeli radio station playing two English-language songs that reminded me of my mom? Someone was clearly directing me to visit her.
When I arrived, she was dozing in her chair. There was an accordionist there, and I could see Mom’s head nodding slightly to the beat, even with her eyes closed.
“You came back!” she said, when she saw me. I wondered where she thought I had been.
I got her to stand up, and we danced through three songs, the last a boisterous rendition of “Hava Nagila.”
We walked around the ward a bit, sang a few songs of our own, and I was able to assist when they needed to change Mom’s diaper. Margalit, the occupational therapist, was putting out games on the big table. Mom sat down, but did not want to touch the colorful magnets in front of her. She again closed her eyes, and I accepted that she was tired.
I had been there for perhaps 40 minutes, if not less, and I saw that it was time to go. Mom was like a wind-up doll who had expended her energy in joyous movement then gone back to her original lifeless position. I knew not to rewind her. I had had her on her feet for quite a bit, dancing and walking, and it had obviously tired her out.
So I left. I left richer for the hugs and kisses we had exchanged. If that doesn’t chase away grey clouds, I don’t know what does. I guess, in a way, Mom’s pronouncement on seeing me was prophetic: I came back to myself.
And the song on the radio as I headed home? “Lay Lady Lay,” by Bob Dylan. I write about that song in my book as one I remember playing on the radio in Mom’s kitchen when I was growing up. What an education. And what memories of Mom as her former self. I remember. I will always remember.
Here’s another thing that can drive out the grey feelings: banana ice cream. Yes, it is winter, but the sun is shining, the temperature is climbing, and winter is banana season. I love making banana bread, fruit salad with bananas, adding bananas to my cereal, even eating them with chocolate and peanut butter. And banana ice cream is about the easiest thing you can make.
Banana Ice Cream
Eat this soft ice cream right out of the blender with a sprinkling of cinnamon, chocolate, and almonds. Or freeze for about an hour for a more compact texture. One banana equals approximately one serving. Make sure bananas are not overly ripe.
3-4 ripe bananas, sliced
1 Tbsp almond or soy milk (optional)
Place sliced bananas in freezer and let freeze, preferably overnight. Add banana chunks to blender and blend until bananas become smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the blender from time to time if necessary. Try different flavors by adding a ¼ cup blended strawberries, or 2 Tbsp cocoa.