Here we go again. Visits to geriatric facilities have been cancelled at least until mid-July as the COVID-19 infection rate in Israel soars. My dad’s appointment for this afternoon was called off, too. I am so sad. We’d finally found a formula for visits that actually worked and now it’s as if we’re moving backwards to a place where our relationship with Mom is once more distant and challenging. This disease has made our already tenuous relationship even more so.
Nothing about these days is straightforward. The virus is wide-spread and seems to be affecting people in random patterns. I actually long for those first few weeks when everyone was in isolation together. We all knew where we were supposed to be and what we were supposed to be doing. There was camaraderie in being in the midst of the pandemic together. The first time my husband Jeff returned to work, I actually felt abandoned by him. He was out of the house and I was still stuck there.
We can’t remain in lock down forever obviously. While my family might be able to make it financially for the foreseeable future, there are many individuals and businesses who simply must go back to work. I understand that, but it leaves us neither here nor there—neither in total isolation nor in full return to “normal” life.
We must be cautious if we choose to go out. We must be cautious in our interactions with people. We must have patience and sympathy, understanding and empathy.
I totally understand why they’ve chosen to close my mom’s Alzheimer’s care facility to outside family members. This situation is volatile and to keep our most vulnerable population safe, we must take extreme measures.
I can no longer take for granted that if I don’t see Mom today, I can see her tomorrow or next week or the week after. We are reduced to a long-distance relationship despite her living only 10 minutes away. With the help of the staff, we can speak to her by video call. Not that she’ll understand the technology involved or who is trying to talk to her. But at least it will give us a small picture into her ever-shrinking world.
Perhaps the uncertainty in our world-wide predicament is similar to the permanent sense of uncertainty that Alzheimer’s patients experience. Nothing is as it should be. The world is tilted and there’s no sense of a standard day or typical goings-on. That’s one of the reasons that schedules are so important for our loved ones; schedules help them understand the passage of time. What we have that they don’t is the far-reaching knowledge and awareness that this period is completely out of the ordinary and that one day it will be reduced to history.
Patience, sympathy, understanding, empathy. This is my new mantra.
We treated ourselves to a special steak* dinner the other night when our youngest son came home from the army for the weekend. To accompany the steak, we made smashed potatoes. That’s when you boil whole potatoes in water until they are soft, smash them open on a baking tray, spice them up and bake them for 20 minutes. What a tasty combination.
There is always that elusive potato dish to try, that additional way to make and eat the ever-present ever-reliant spud. Here’s to trying something new.
6-8 medium potatoes, unpeeled
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C. Boil potatoes in a pot of water until potatoes are soft and can be pierced with a sharp knife. Do not peel potatoes. Remove from water and place on baking tray. Using a rolling pin, the bottom of a cup or even the heel of your hand, smash the potatoes on the tray. Brush with oil and sprinkle with spices. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown.
*Steaks by Andy Shapiro Katz, our local gourmet chef.