On this, the last day of my daughter’s visit, I am filled with sadness at the thought that I won’t see her for another year. Yes, we are constantly in touch, but there is no feeling quite as special as having all your children together in one place. Our family time was precious.
We visited Mom twice with a combination of kids. The first visit was actually uplifting for me. Mom interacted with us and seemed to be not only present but in a good mood. It didn’t last for the whole visit, but it was enough.
On the second visit, we brought her three great-grandchildren to meet her. The oldest had vague memories of visiting during a lull in the corona pandemic, but this was the first time the three-year-old was meeting her, and of course, the baby, her namesake, Ayala Naomi.
I suppose I was buoyed by the first positive visit. I must have anticipated a moment—or two—of real connection. Maybe it was there and I missed it, but from my perspective, the visit left me feeling such sadness that Mom will never know her great-grandchildren in the same loving way she knew her grandchildren.
We met outside on the covered balcony. The boys had a good time running around. I held the baby close to her hoping for at least a photo that would document their connection. Mom grabbed Ayala’s feet and I felt her tugging on the baby. Fearing that Mom might accidentally hurt the baby, I quickly moved away.
There was nothing new in Mom’s behavior. Sadly, she was mostly hostile, and her concentration was elsewhere. Nonetheless, although I left feeling disappointed and deflated, I was also consoled by the loving and respectful encounter between our four generations.
This was a short episode in an otherwise brilliant three-week visit. And yes, I let it go. I put my all into playing with my grandsons and being with my children. I read books and bounced the baby, organized meals, held conversations, and lived fully our time together.
When tomorrow settles, I will realize that my husband and I are once again empty nesters, and I will do my best to fill the void.
It’s not that I’m scared to cook lamb, it’s that lamb is just not on my radar as a potential Shabbat meal. Oh, but when Liora is here, she pushes her way into the kitchen and we venture into uncharted territory. As in past years, the lamb dish she made was excellent.
Leg of Lamb
This dish was the hit of our family Friday night dinner. It truly melted in our mouths.
1 leg of lamb, approx. 2.5 kilo / 5.5 lbs.
20 small potatoes, whole
2 whole bulbs of garlic, with the top sliced off
15-20 garlic cloves, peeled
10-15 shallots, peeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
2 Tbsp date honey and/or honey
3-4 twigs fresh rosemary and/or thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Place leg in a large pan. Rub leg with olive oil, honey, mustard and spices. Toss in onions, potatoes and garlic. Add a little water to the bottom of the pan. Cook covered for up to four hours at 275° F / 135° C, then uncover and continue cooking for another hour or until meat is soft and pulls easily from the bone.