Besotted with Life
I flew to London for four days last week to see my family there, most significantly my mom’s sister Barbara. Barbara was given three months to live…five months ago! Her chemotherapy is not easy, but it has staved off this round of leukemia long enough to allow her to witness the birth of a new grandson, among other wondrous events.
I’ve learned a lot of life’s lessons from my Auntie Barbara. Besotted with life, Barbara is my reminder to keep enjoying myself. When her previous meds made her put on weight, Barbara said with a flourish, “It’s better to be fat than dead!”
I guess I also feel that because Mom is incapable of saying goodbye to Barbara (though the time is blessedly not yet upon us), I will say it for her. It makes me immeasurably sad, this terrible confluence of death and memory loss. Mom has lost the memories that define what a sister is or what her little sister once meant to her.
I remember them together on more than one occasion just laughing over their shared childhood, or singing together as they cleared the kitchen. Their favorite songs were from the movie Carmen Jones, their rich voices filling the air with a humming excitement.
Barbara would visit Israel often twice a year because both her mother and sister lived here. Once, when we were all staying at my grandmother’s place, I heard my grandmother whisper to my grandfather that he’d better be quiet or he’d wake “the children.” They were in their 40s by then.
As my grandmother aged, and as Mom descended into her Alzheimer’s, Barbara’s visits always brought a sense of joy to our lives. We laughed together, and got Mom to laugh along with us, even when she didn’t quite understand what was going on. Barbara’s visits didn’t stop when my grandmother died; she came, then, to be with her beloved sister.
Barbara is surrounded by people who love and honor her, and this is how it should be. It may be that the chemo will stop working, or Barbara will opt to stop receiving it, or something else will intervene to change the course of her limited future. It’s pretty clear to all of us that another visit to Israel is not in the cards. That's why I’m already planning another trip for that dose of Barbara’s unmistakable enthusiasm for life.
Sometimes the best thing to do when you’re feeling down is eat what you most enjoy. I was hosted with style and love by my cousin Lara and her husband Mo in their beautiful home, and it was amazing to reconnect, and to see my cousin Mark and his partner Elise with their new baby. So, here are roasted potatoes drizzled with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary in honor of Lara’s love of the innocuous spud. And these are especially tasty.
Sliced Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary
I go through phases of deciding whether it’s better to cook rice or potatoes. And I always come back to this most generous of starches.
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375° F / 190° C. Cover potatoes with water and parboil them in a small pot. Let them cool then slice and arrange on a large baking tray. Spray (or drizzle) with olive oil then sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic salt and rosemary. Bake for 30 minutes until brown and crispy. If they don’t brown to your satisfaction, broil on high for 3 minutes.
And a shout-out to my Auntie Barbara Goldstein and cousin Joanna for hosting me in Southend!
I invite you to leave a comment, or visit this link to read more about Alzheimer's.