The Red Zone
Round two of worries to contend with. Two residents at Mom’s care facility have been taken to hospital after contracting COVID-19; four staff members are in isolation. To isolate the residents from one another so as to prevent any further spreading of the virus, they are all being kept in their separate rooms for most of the day, though the staff does take them out on an individual basis for exercise. Presumably, the staff makes rounds as well on a scheduled basis.
I just can’t picture how this is working. Is Mom by herself most of the day? Is she ok or bored or lost or lonely? I know she is all these things because Alzheimer’s has reduced her to a memory-less state. But in the context of Corona, is she being intentionally left on her own? Despite what Alzheimer’s has done to her brain, Mom remains a very social individual. She loves to talk and chatter. And there is nothing we can do right now to alleviate the situation.
Meanwhile, our worries over our soldier son have ebbed for now. He tested negative last week but was placed in isolation after more than 12 other soldiers in his unit tested positive. We visited him, sitting with him in a park outside the base. We were careful not to hug him. But imagine our worry when he called after Shabbat to say he’d spiked a high fever and had stomach pains. Was this Corona? Had we put ourselves—and my dad—at risk by selfishly visiting him? We curtailed our activities as best we could while we waited to hear from him about the results from the latest test. Relief and thanksgiving that he tested negative.
Once we found out we were no longer possibly incubating COVID, we rushed to pay a shiva call to a friend whose older brother just passed away. I was so sad to learn that he had had dementia and COVID-19, and had died of complications from the virus.
This is my worst fear for Mom. I want to be with her if she gets sick. Even in the darkness, though, there is light. I learned of an amazing group of volunteers of COVID survivors who visit those who are sick. They have antibodies and are hypothetically immune from catching it from other patients.
I keep reading that conservative estimates suggest this pandemic will end only two years from now. That means that we must find the fortitude to weather this upheaval long-term. I know there will be days—perhaps weeks—ahead that will test me and try my resolve. I know that I will falter; it’s in my nature to be pessimistic. We have learned that life is unpredictable and mostly out of our control.
So where does that leave me? I have two main goals. One is to do the best I can in maintaining contact with Mom through video chat and via communications with the director of her care facility. The second is to live my life as profoundly as I can. I may feel like I’m standing still, but I’m not. I am in flux, just as the world is, and while I can’t control where I may end up, I can try and make it a more positive journey.
Walk slowly, my wise friend advised when I told her all I wanted to do was rush to the kitchen and eat chocolate. I am doing that, and also trying a less sugary dessert to help pass the time. These Pistachio Bars are crunchy, satisfying and not too sweet. In truth, definitely not as amazing as chocolate peanut butter brownies, but they will do in a pinch.
Thank you to Emily for sharing these pistachio bars at our shared meal and this recipe with me. I think hers held together better, so I’ll have to keep practicing until I get it right. I suspect I need thicker peanut butter.
¾ cup pistachios
¼ cup pecans/almonds/walnuts (your choice)
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup ground flax seed
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp peanut butter (the thicker the better)
3 Tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 325° F / 160° C. Coarsely ground nuts and oats in blender then add remaining ingredients apart from chocolate chips. Blend together well until ingredients form a moist batter. Fold in chocolate chips. Pat batter tightly into a small baking pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until top beings to brown. Let cool for about 20 minutes before cutting into bars.
Photo by Liora Green