When my dad is away, as he is this week, I try to visit my mom each day, even if only for a short while, so that I can verify with my own eyes that she’s ok. And, I post a photo of her to our family WhatsApp group so that they can see her, too.
Mom was smiling today, and when I took her photo, she asked to see it.
“Is that me?” she queried as she studied herself.
I assured her it was.
I’m guessing that Mom thinks of herself as much younger, certainly unlike the other residents who sit beside her. She has little occasion to look in a mirror let alone groom for any particular reason (though she does receive regular haircuts, and her silver hair is often brushed very nicely).
“There’s no face on her face,” Mom said as she looked at the photo.
I don’t know what that means, and she couldn’t tell me.
These are the times that I feel most guilty about her being in an institution and not in a warm home environment. I know there is no way to change this situation, and that we are incapable of dealing with Mom on our own, given her physical needs. But it doesn’t lessen the guilt. I should be there more often to talk to her and give her hugs, to distract her and keep her mind working.
She was contentedly “playing” with her activity blanket that my sister-in-law Sharon made for her, her fingers brushing over the different fabrics as she intensely touched and pulled on strings and a zipper. Then, as I was leaving, I put her headphones on. At first she angrily rejected them, but I persuaded her to listen, and soon she was singing away to The Sound of Music.
She was happy when I left. I’ll keep that image in my mind.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I finally received a copy of my book in the mail! The publisher had listed the wrong address, so it took ages to arrive. But it’s here, and I can now feel like a proper published author. I can’t quite believe it. I’m sending my story out there to all of you so that you, too, can find joy with your loved ones, regardless of their circumstances. It is a hard job, trying to be positive in the face of Alzheimer’s. I hope I have the strength to continue doing it.
Here’s a link to my book’s landing page.
On Sunday, May 26, I am giving a TEDx Talk at Shenkar College in Tel Aviv on “Finding Joy in Alzheimer’s.” I’m very excited about this and I’ve been practicing for weeks. I think our cat can also give the talk now as he’s heard it so many times. That also means that I haven’t been around much, and I’ve been leaning on my husband Jeff for cooking assistance. Let’s hear it for husbands who can cook! This crispy chicken with wine and mushrooms that Jeff made was super tasty.
Crispy Chicken with Wine and Mushrooms
It’s handy to have a husband who loves to cook and who loves to try new things. This dish was an instant hit in our family.
8-10 chicken pieces
2 cups flour
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
Canola oil as needed
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups mushrooms, sliced (can be frozen)
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
1 tsp turmeric
1½ tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onions and garlic in oil until onions become translucent. Add mushrooms and wine and sauté for another 10 minutes. Set aside. In a disposable bag, shake chicken pieces in flour, add a little oil to the frying pan and fry until brown on all sides. Remove chicken to a baking pan and place in a single layer in pan. Repeat until all chicken pieces are browned. Pour onion mushroom mixture over chicken. Cover and bake at 350° F / 180° C for one hour.