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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

Complicated Liaison

I had a wonderful visit with Mom today. I really did. She was awake and enlivened. She asked who I was when she first saw me then accepted the idea that I was there to visit. She engaged with me, smiling and laughing. She held out her arms to hug me. I was so tempted to walk right into them, so ready to feel her arms around me. Instead, I moved back as she got closer to the visiting site and went to stand behind the tables that separated us, as is required. Mom was so engrossed in our conversation, she asked if she could come play with me. "Absolutely!" I enthused.

“She’s like a new person,” Nurse Regina commented to me.

It seems that adjusting Mom’s medicines has rolled back much of her lethargy. She now tries to stand up by herself, which, while dangerous because she lacks balance, is amazingly progressive for someone who has been sitting for the better part of two years. She carries on long “conversations” with the staff—they joke that she’s teaching them English—and she can still read simple children’s books we’ve supplied her. Not only did Mom walk all the way to the visiting area, but she was awake for the entire 40 minutes.

We sang and conversed and I left feeling content that Mom was in good health and in good hands.

And here’s where I stop and realize that there is a profound admission in stating that I had a wonderful visit with Mom not that we had a wonderful visit. I’m not saying that the visit wasn’t wonderful or that we both didn’t get something out of it. I’m saying that Mom’s existence is such that any visit with her is one-sided. It is not a mutual proposition. She had no part in the arrangement of the meeting; she just followed along when the nurses told her to get up and walk with them. She certainly didn’t know who I was. At one point, Mom even said she didn’t know who she was either.

This is a complicated liaison. I want to visit Mom to provide her with stimulation and to remind her and the staff—and perhaps myself—that I love her. If I didn’t visit, these things would all still be true. But then I would be putting all her care in the hands of others. I’m not comfortable with that scenario. If, during this pandemic, the best I can do is stand two meters from her, wave my arms and sing, then that is what I’ll do. I know she enjoyed chatting and singing with me. I could see it in her reactions. And I certainly enjoyed it, too. These intermittent visits are perhaps more for me than they are for her. And so, I resignedly accept and live with the yawning truth that Alzheimer’s has made this a lopsided relationship.

Meanwhile, my dad isn’t feeling well. In fact, I took his visitation slot with Mom so that he wouldn’t get anyone sick. We’re pretty sure it’s simply a cold, but today I took him for a corona test, just to be on the safe side. We will have the results within 24 hours.

These are the times in which we live, where the smallest sign of sickness becomes a worrisome burden. Here’s praying all is ok and that he is well enough to visit Mom early next week.

I am so excited that my niece Eliana has moved to my neighborhood for the year. Not only do I see her gorgeous kids much more than I otherwise would but I also get to try all her amazing recipes. Here’s one for a tangy sweet potato salad that is just delicious.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

So, I reached into my cupboard and was dismayed to find that all three of my sweet potatoes were going bad. I cut off the offending parts and made this salad. Great decision.

2 sweet potatoes, cubed

½-1 Tbsp oil

2 scallions, chopped

¼ cup parsley, chopped

¼ cup peanuts

2 Tbsp sesame seeds

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 Tbsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp sweet and sour sauce


Coat potato squares in oil and roast on a large tray at 400° F / 200° C for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. In a small container, combine soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and garlic. When potatoes are cool, add remaining ingredients and sauce and mix.

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Nov 11, 2020

Sounds like your mother is doing great, even though she doesn't know who she is or anyone else.


Nov 11, 2020

I'm davening for your dad. Hope he soon feels better and it's not Corona! Please keep your loyal followers updated. We really feel like family.


Nov 11, 2020

In recipe: 2-3 CLOVES of garlic!!?? Aren't CLOVE the WHOLE ball of garlic= ALL the "teeth"?? I've been here so long, can't remember the English for Garlic "teeth"

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