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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green


Updated: Jul 20, 2021

I never thought I’d get to the point where I could let go of the guilt of putting Mom in a care facility. I feel so grateful to the staff there for caring for her with love and compassion.

Why now? What has made me see Mom’s residency at her care facility in a new light?

Last week my dad was hospitalized due to his chronic low heart rate. Whereas a normal pulse is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, Dad’s average is around 30 to 60. It rarely goes higher than 70. He’s been under observation by his cardiologist for the past year where he takes a Holter test every four months. This is a portable device for cardiac monitoring that is worn for at least 24 hours to get a picture of the heart’s functioning.

Three days after Dad’s last Holter test, he received a call from the cardiologist’s clinic to go immediately to the hospital: Dad’s heart was weakening, they said.

Off we drove, first to see the attending cardiologist, then, with results in hand, to the emergency room at our local hospital. I packed a bag with snacks and water, reading materials and a sweater, everything we might need while we waited for Dad to be admitted.

It took hours to get Dad into the ICCU, the intensive cardiac care unit. It being Thursday, I knew that not much would happen in the hospital until Israel’s work-week started up again on Sunday. The tentative analysis was that Dad needed a pacemaker.

The first thing I did was cancel the plans my husband and I had made for a vacation Shabbat get-away with friends near Eilat. The second thing I did was try to convince the doctors to let him come home with me over Shabbat. I promised to bring him back on Sunday. Given his low pulse, though, they would not let him out.

Sunday rolled around and instead of scheduling a procedure to install a pacemaker, the ICCU doctors decided to perform more tests. Dad was experiencing no light-headedness or unconscious spells normally associated with this type of issue. They wanted to know if his heart was really in need of an invasive procedure.

Finally, Monday afternoon, four days after being admitted, the doctors pronounced him fit to go home. We were all relieved, though I wondered why, if he was a candidate for a pacemaker, it wouldn’t be better to install now while he was relatively healthy, rather than wait until he experienced signs of distress or other complications. Still, it was good to get him home. I know he was thrilled to be back in his own space.

Not once in all that time did I worry about Mom. Nor did I need to worry about her. I knew that she was safe and receiving the attention she needed. Not once did I divide my worry or run from parent to parent to care for both of them. Not once did I regret that Mom wasn’t with us or in the know about her beloved Jack. Not once.

I don’t know that the guilt has gone away entirely, because placing Mom in her facility was and is still the hardest decision we’ve ever made. Last week, I was at peace with it. Dad functions at full capacity with energy and life and an interest in the world. When he needed me, I could be with him 100% with all my heart and soul. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I’ve been frazzled lately with juggling all my responsibilities. It has made me less attentive to this blog, and I may take breaks now and again to recharge my batteries. But we still need to eat. So, I offer you a braiding method for meat pies, desserts or even challah that will make your dishes look extremely elegant. I used this method just this past Shabbat for a delectable meat pie. My favorite, though, is a chocolate babka.

Braided Meat or Dessert Pie

This is seriously a beautiful way to braid pastry dough. It reminds me of the fishtail braids I used to make for my daughter's hair.

Defrost and carefully unroll a frozen French pastry sheet. Transfer to a lined baking sheet. Place meat or chocolate filling on top of the pastry and form into a long brick shape, leaving a good-sized gap on either side. Take a knife and cut ½ in / 1½ cm strips down each side at about a 45° angle. Fold one end flap of pastry over the end of the filling then alternate strips from each side to form a braid. Wet the ends of the pastry to make them stick, if necessary. Once you’re close to the end, fold up the end flap of the pastry and then finish the braid with the end tucked underneath. Brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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