Updated: May 26
I’ve lost my enthusiasm for visiting Mom after my dad’s less than stellar experience. What bothers me most is that we won’t be able to touch. How can I not hold her hands and pull her to me for kisses and hugs? That’s how I tell her I love her. That’s how she knows I love her.
Daddy wasn’t even sure she knew who he was though she did say, “Hello, Lovely.” The visit was conducted outside under a canopy especially erected for the family visits, but the heat made her drowsy. They lasted all of half an hour before she fell asleep in her chair. This week, due to the extremely high temperatures—42° C / 107° F and higher—they have mercifully moved the meetings indoors.
Two staff members had to help her walk to and from the meeting. Her walking has apparently deteriorated in our absence. There’s no one to blame for this deterioration. It could be that Mom isn’t getting enough exercise. It could be that Alzheimer’s has just claimed more of her. As Alzheimer’s is wont to do.
Tomorrow I’ll be visiting Mom for the first time in almost three months. I will keep my expectations low. Mom won’t be able to see my mouth, so I’ll have to rely on other body parts for expression. (We are looking into purchasing clear masks so that Mom can see our mouths.) I will make do with the resources available: songs we love to sing; active hands and eyes.
I pray that I don’t feel despair at visiting Mom in this time of corona. What do I do if I feel that? If my thoughts turn to how easy it would be to just leave her there in that institution without calling or visiting or acknowledging her presence? She is with me all the time. I’m living in her home and her things are all around me. Memories and reminiscences surface with ease. What I’ve pushed away is the gap between those snippets of feeling her whole and the woman she is now. Somehow, by not visiting her, I feel like I have become less invested in her well-being.
I am trying to change those feelings, that script I’ve written in my head before I even get there tomorrow. I’m also trying to replace the time when I previously visited Mom to instead visit friends in hospital and at home recovering from surgery. I’m trying, in essence, to reclaim my love for her through deeds and actions that would make her proud.
On the home front, we’ve been eating well. With lots of time to spare, my daughter Liora and I have challenged ourselves to cook new things. This week, we tried sushi. The preparation to making this dish is more involved than actually rolling up the seaweed. We decided to cook our salmon, and we also cooked thin slices of sweet potato. We made both traditional rolls and inside out rolls. We skipped one of the steps in rolling the sushi, though, so ours came out in swirls instead of rolls. It didn’t bother us. There were no leftovers.
Here’s what you need to have on hand: seaweed, wasabi powder, ginger, a sushi mat to roll the sushi (preferably covered in plastic wrap), thin strips of vegetables like cucumber and carrot, shallots, sweet potato, salmon, omelet and avocado, and soy sauce. Preparing and gathering these items is the most complicated part. Rolling and cutting the sushi is the easy.
1 cup small grain round rice
2 cups water
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cucumber, thinly sliced in long strips
1 carrot, thinly sliced in long strips
1 sweet potato, thinly sliced and peeled in long strips and baked
1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
1 salmon steak, cut into thin strips
Cook rice in water bringing to a boil then simmering until water evaporates. Add rice vinegar, salt and sugar. Rice should be sticky. Let cool. For fish, line a pan with baking paper and cook thin strips of salmon on 350° F / 180° C for 15 minutes. Cut all vegetables and sweet potato in about ¼ inch thick strips. On another baking tray, lay strips of sweet potato, spray with a little oil, and cover with foil. Cook on 375° F / 190° C for 15 to 20 minutes or until sweet potato is soft and edible. Cover the sushi rolling mat with plastic wrap. Lay a piece of seaweed on the mat so that the shiny side is down. Using wet hands, spread a palm-sized ball of rice on the whole area of the seaweed that is facing up. Try not to crush the rice, and leave about an inch at the top of the seaweed. Place a combination of vegetables and fish along the length of the rice just below the center. Using the mat, roll the seaweed completely over the ingredients and use the mat to tighten the roll before rolling up the last part. Press against the seam so that the top of the seaweed (that was not covered in rice) adheres to the roll. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into eight pieces, first cutting it in half and half again and so on so that the pieces come out even.