A Bushel and A Peck
Updated: Jul 20, 2021
What a difference a good mood makes! Mom was almost dancing as she came towards us with her walker, her feet moving to some beat she was singing. It wasn’t a song exactly, but we could tell she was with-it.
I wish the success or failure of our visits—the feelings we have when we leave her presence—were not so hinged on Mom’s moods. But there it is. When she’s happy, so are we.
What a laugh we had! Mom sang all her favorite songs with us and actually remembered most of the words this time. When she’s in an angry mood, she often makes up her own foul lyrics to suit her anger.
We called Mom’s sister Barbara on the phone, too, and despite the fact that she at first insulted Barbara, she readily listened while Barbara described to Mom how she had been an integral part of their shared childhood and had taken care of Barbara when they were little. There’s a six-year gap in their ages. Not really significant now, but it was when they were children.
I wish I knew what made Mom feel one way or another. Is it something external that we could solve by knowing more about her day or her interactions? Is it something internal, something so deeply imbedded in her psyche that there’s no understanding it? Or is it simply physiological, determined by an unfathomable combination of unstable brain chemicals and misfiring synapses?
When she was a younger woman, Mom did experience mood swings. Mostly, though, she was high on life, a social butterfly with countless friends and acquaintances with whom she readily engaged in loving, meaningful conversations. Her walking pace—her very long strides—always seemed to keep a steady rhythm when she hurried to and from her destinations.
I miss all that. I miss her great liveliness and curiosity. Perhaps that’s why we so enjoyed our meeting this week. It reminded us of the best of who she was.
Tonight in Israel is the stark emotional transition between Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror and Independence Day. We go from mourning to celebrating, from acknowledging the sacrifice of our soldiers to celebrating their military victories. The two days back-to-back are suffused with sadness and joy. They epitomize for me the true nature of being Israeli—the ability to hold in our hearts the loss of so many along this historic journey to freedom and independence.
My emotions of Mom are, of course, also tinged with sadness. She used to love attending the traditional barbecue we have every year on Independence Day with our University of Maryland alumni friends. Sadly, she is stuck in her care facility. But I am here because of her. And so I salute her—and my dad—for teaching me what it is to love this country with all my heart.
I signed up to make coleslaw for the traditional Independence Day barbecue which is funny because the recipe I make is the one I learned from my mother-in-law, Marilyn. The trick is in using the right mayonnaise. Homemade mayonnaise is clearly best, but barring that, be sure not to skip on buying cheap, local alternatives. Stick with the Hellman’s and they’ll be lining up for seconds.
If you prefer non-sweet coleslaw, feel free to add less sugar and/or add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard as an alternative.
1 head white cabbage, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp sugar
1½ Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop and grate vegetables and place in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whip dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over vegetables and mix well.