Mom caught COVID. The heaviness of knowing her illness was beyond our control took its toll on us, and we lived for the short videos that the staff would send us confirming that she’d caught a mild case. Small miracles.
What wasn’t so clear was whether Mom would be out of isolation—or whether the whole memory care facility would even be open to visitors—when my brother Simon and his family arrived for their first post-pandemic visit.
Thankfully, we eased into this too, and I am grateful to the wonderful staff for expediting our visits. Granted, we had to sit outside in the steamy August air, but at 9:30 a.m., it was just getting hot.
On the first visit, Mom warmed to Simon immediately. My sister-in-law had the bright idea of bringing a bubble wand with us and there were moments of pure magic as we sang and laughed together.
On the second visit, we had fans cooling down the space, so it was more comfortable, and again, Mom seemed to be in her element. She was interested in chatting and singing, and the visit passed enjoyably and quickly.
When Simon said goodbye to Mom, he and I teared up realizing that it may be a while before he sees her again. Aging is sometimes rapid and beyond our control. Not that she understood that, though every time they sat together, Mom clearly loved seeing him.
The reason Simon didn’t visit more than twice was also complicated by COVID. My niece Shoshana caught COVID on a group tour, and when she arrived at our house, she isolated in our back room, emerging just a few times over the course of a hard week. On one of the days we were due to visit, Simon’s antigen test revealed an apparently false positive. We didn’t know that at the time, but of course, he could not see Mom. And we couldn’t either, having possibly been exposed to his illness. We all laughed when he tested the next day and got a negative result—as if it was possible to be sick with COVID for only one day (and boy, did he ham it up!).
I can’t remember the last time we were all together, the four of us, Mom, Dad, Simon and me. It’s different now. It’s been different—hard—for a while. But what are our options? Mom is still with us. I cherish each and every moment we have together.
We ate very well when Simon and Sharon were with us. Many take-out meals (COVID, remember?) but also a heart-warming Shabbat (sans guests because, yes, COVID) (I thank Rise and Zeev for braving a humid Shabbat dinner on our porch).
Here’s the recipe for the peanut butter banana chocolate chip cake I made. It came out high and fluffy and I was pleased with its moistness. Of course, by the time I remembered to photograph it, it was mostly gone. That’s a good thing.
Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cake
This is the first year that I can really remember having the option of eating bananas all year round. There are so many wonderful summer stone fruits to feast on that we keep forgetting to eat the bananas. Great excuse for banana bread! Plus, it's got my all-time favorite combination of chocolate and peanut butter.
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup brown sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup peanut butter (reserve 2 Tbsp)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
½ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup chopped peanuts for decoration
In a large bowl, mash bananas and add oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, mayonnaise, and peanut butter. Mix well then add flour, baking soda, salt, and chips. Pour into greased loaf pan and decorate the top with remaining peanut butter and chopped nuts. Bake at 375° F / 190° C for 55 minutes or until baked through.