The funny thing about talking to someone with Alzheimer’s is that you never know where the conversation will end up. My husband Jeff and I stopped by on Saturday to say hello to Mom, and after walking to a quieter section of the building, we sat with her to sing and play catch. We sang all sorts of songs that we knew Mom would resonate to.
Jeff, who is very fond of My Fair Lady, began singing “On the Street Where You Live.” The first line is, “I have often walked down this street before.”
“Oh, you’ve been here often?” Mom asked.
“Yes, I come often to visit you,” Jeff replied, cleverly reechoing Mom’s use of the word, “often.”
A little later, I started the song, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
Instead of singing, Mom gave me a puzzled look.
“What were you doing on the boat?” Mom asked me.
“Oh,” I said, trying to figure out what to say. “I was rowing.” Then I burst out laughing. And Mom laughed, too.
I hadn’t realized how literally she would react to the words we were singing. Those are the two songs I remember her commenting on, though I am sure there were others. It made me happy that in between the nonsensical conversations, Mom had actually connected to our being there with her.
Perhaps the visit was so successful because it was Shabbat and I was not caught up in my weekly activities. Instead, I had no sense of needing to be somewhere else; I was with Mom 100 percent, and she responded.
I always need to remind myself whenever I visit to let everything else fall away and be in the present. Considering Mom’s past is hazy and her future is non-existent, the present is a pretty good place to come together.
Combining two disparate foods to create an amazingly tasty salad is an art. I’d heard about watermelon feta salad for many years but thought it too crazy to even taste. Imagine my surprise when I finally realized how astonishingly good it is! The burst of sweetness from the watermelon, the salty, crumbly feta, and the surge of freshness from the mint, it is a brilliant combination.
Watermelon Feta Salad
I think I’m hooked on this salad now. There’s no turning back. Each bite is a burst of flavor. Some people add cucumber to this salad, too, which adds another layer of freshness, but I don’t think you need it.
3 cups watermelon, cubed
1 cup feta cheese, cubed
½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
2½ Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine oil, lemon juice and salt in a small closed container and shake well. Pour over watermelon, feta and mint in a large bowl and stir so that cheese begins to crumble. Serve cold.