The good news is that Mom still reacts positively to personal interaction with the staff at her memory care facility. The bad news is that Corona has prevented us, her loving family, from engaging in that personal interaction.
Most of the video chats we’ve held with Mom are utterly depressing. While she may initially be interested in hearing our voices or seeing our faces—and may even react a little—not even her most beloved songs seem to stir her to talk to us. Mostly, Mom stares away from us and seems to enter her own world. She cannot be roused by our voices.
It would be much easier to simply forget to call, to leave her there at the mercy of her Alzheimer’s fog. And indeed, I have forgotten to call a number of times over the past two weeks, despite my best intentions. Thankfully, time gifts me with additional opportunities, so we end up “talking” to Mom at least a couple of times each week. Or at least talking to her profile as she stares into space.
Those lines from the rock opera Tommy keep flitting through my head.
“Tommy, can you hear me…Tommy, can you see me.”
I’m not sure Mom can really hear or see us. And sadly, I don’t feel that we can do anything about it. I still believe that when we sing familiar tunes to her, we can still possibly tap into an essential connection that is deep beneath the labyrinthine tangles of her brain. We just don’t see the results played out in her facial expressions.
I know that Mom’s decline is inevitable, but it hurts so much to be separated from her. Perhaps we’d still be able to make her smile, or at least have a funny, strange conversation together. With the closure of her facility, it makes interaction nearly impossible.
It is true that staff goes in and out of the facility, taking precautions when they are not working to keep healthy. Would it really be so different for family to visit as we did just a few short weeks ago under strict health-conscious procedures?
There was an article circulating on Facebook about a woman who took a job as a dishwasher at her husband’s locked down facility so that she could enter each day and see him. When we showed my dad, he sadly shook his head and without missing a beat, said, “It’s a pity I don’t do dishes.”
We are all trying to keep our sense of humor, praying that this pandemic ends before we are lost to her entirely.
Some days I have energy to cook and some days, well, the bed glue is so strong I have a hard time getting up and motivated. I need the fact of Shabbat rolling around each week to harness my energy to something bigger than myself so that I can cook special meals for my family. Since my daughter’s return home, we’ve been eating a lighter two-course meal on Friday nights. The first course is a variety of different salads with challah; the second, a flavorful dish of Moroccan fish and potatoes. And, of course, vegetables. Here’s an easy roasted squash and tomato dish that will make any table look elegant.
Roasted Zucchini, Squash and Tomatoes
The colors in this recipe are eye-poppingly beautiful. It is a stunning reminder of the amazing world we inhabit. And even in these difficult times, we should remember that the process of getting them to our table is not straight-forward and involves many peoples’ efforts.
2 green zucchini, sliced in ½”-thick slices
2 yellow squash, sliced in ½”-thick slices
15-20 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 400° F / 200° C. Place cut vegetables in a large bowl. Line a baking tray with baking paper. In a small bowl, mix oil, spices and garlic then pour over vegetables and toss gently to coat evenly. Place vegetables on baking tray in a single layer, then sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until vegetables are cooked through and begin to brown.