A Belated Birthday, Mom!
What a wonderful visit I had with Mom last week! It was her birthday on March 1, and I finally got to see her after about a two-month absence that was due entirely to Omicron being so contagious.
I didn’t know how Mom would react to seeing me, but I needn’t have worried. Though she clearly didn’t know who I was, she understood that I was there to see her. Mom was oblivious to the passing of time. We sat close together and I was able to give her some wonderful hugs.
There is still a mask mandate inside the facility’s grounds, and they are still only allowing one person to visit at a time. As my dad wasn’t feeling great, he and my husband Jeff came by to stand outside the gate and sing, “Happy Birthday!” from a distance. They stayed for a short while until Mom needed to sit down and could no longer see them from the courtyard.
It’s strange how momentous time is in our lives. A year’s passing holds significance—moments of love and joy, heartache, etc. And yet for Mom, time has stopped. We see her aging though she does not—cannot—see it in herself.
I don’t know how I merited to spend a whole hour with Mom, but the time flew by as we sang and talked. Her stubborn anger returned again and again with no apparent trigger, and I did a really good job of leading her to other thoughts, other emotions.
The best thing is that I walked away intact. I didn’t feel drained or overwhelmed by loss. I didn’t fight irrelevancy or feel my task had been Sisyphean. I simply internalized that the time we’d been together had been positive and perfect, and that while she’d forget moments
later that I was even there, she would retain a sense of being loved, at least for a while.
Somewhere in Mom’s word salad, I did hear her say my name. And, “I love you.” That was enough.
The fun and all-consuming festival of Purim is happening this week, and if you’re interested in adding a tasty wine-soaked rice dish to your meal, this one is a good one.
Wine-soaked Rice with Mushrooms and Onions
On Purim, there is whole-hearted approval to drink until you can’t distinguish between two of the main characters in the Purim story. Though the wine in this dish may actually all evaporate during cooking, it makes the rice a beautiful purple color. You can pretend you’re fulfilling the mitzvah!
1 cup brown rice
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cups water
½ cup red wine (your choice)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed, and divided
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onions and mushrooms in oil until most of the liquid evaporates. Add half garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley. Place rice in a small saucepan with oil and garlic, adding salt and pepper to taste. When rice is slightly heated, add water and wine. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer until all the water is evaporated. Mix in mushrooms. Serve.