Jan 212016
 

“Was I there, too?” Mom asks as my dad tells us about a concert they attended Monday night.

“Of course,” he responds.

“I don’t remember,” Mom replies. “I don’t even know if I’m here or there.”

We laugh, because in context, it’s funny. What it means, however, is that Mom is aware of her memory loss, of her dislocation from time, of her inability to live beyond the moment.

We’ve accepted this about her. And in fact, as Mom’s abilities decline, some things are easier. Mom doesn’t fight me anymore when I need to cut her nails. She willingly holds hands when we cross the street. And, whereas before she rejected sandwiches for lunch, she happily eats them because we now cut them into bite-sized bits she can eat with a fork.broccoli

What remains a mystery is how Mom, who sits on the sidelines for most conversations, suddenly enters the fray with a zinging comment. Here’s an example from this afternoon.

As most of their bills are in Hebrew, Daddy and I have taken to going over them together to make sure he understands them. He has a pile of papers waiting for me when I get there, and as we sift through them, I notice that one whole stack is not for him. The address is right, but the name on the letter does not correspond to anyone in their apartment. When we finally decipher the last name (Hebrew is written without any vowels, so it is sometimes a guessing game as to how to pronounce words), Daddy realizes the papers are for their upstairs neighbors, the Pe’er family.

“I think they’ve both died,” Daddy says, “although, maybe she’s still alive.”

And then Mom, transliterating from Hebrew to make a joke: “What a pair they are.”

Zing.

Mom’s brain is functioning.

We laugh long and hard over that joke. It is a small celebration of her vitality and it makes us feel as if our efforts to keep her active and engaged do have an effect.

As I gather my things to head home, Mom tells me she’ll miss me. “I’m like a yo-yo,” I say. “I’m leaving now, but I keep coming back.”

“But when will I see you?”

“I’ll visit next week,” I promise. Mom is still with us. I want to experience that for as long as I can.

The thing about broccoli is that it’s good brain food. The broccoli kugel featured here is in honor of Mom’s phenomenal brain.

Broccoli Kugel

If you’re not overly fond of broccoli, you can substitute almost any other vegetable—cauliflower, squash and carrots, spinach, even cabbage—and still create a hearty vegetable side dish. My favorite: broccoli. This works with fresh broccoli, too.

800 grams (1.7 pounds) frozen thawed broccoli, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic

4 eggs

4 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tsp mustard

4 Tbsp flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Paprika to sprinkle on top

Directions:

Sauté onions and garlic until they begin to brown. Let cool. In a large bowl, mix eggs, flour, mustard and mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Add broccoli and onion mixture. Pour into a small casserole dish and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until browned on sides and top.

About the Author: Miriam Green writes a weekly blog at thelostkichen.org that chronicles through prose, poetry and recipes her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s.  Her unpublished cookbook, “The Lost Kitchen: An Alzheimer’s Memoir and Cookbook” is filled with advice for the novice cook, easy and elegant recipes and home-spun caregiver advice. Her poem, “Questions My Mother Asked, Answers My Father Gave Her,” won the 2013 Reuben Rose Poetry prize. Miriam is a 20-year resident of Beer Sheva, Israel, and a mother of three.

 

Learn More:

  7 Responses to “Zing”

  1. Feeling your pain/loss. I just came home from a wonderful lunch with dad filled with zings. I ordered a bottle of champagne (swollowed the cost) I just don't know how many lunches I have left and toasted to life( La hieghem???)? sorry only 1/2 Jewish.
    God bless you and thank you for sharing

  2. As I read your article, I realize that other ones loved ones act like my mom! It is so crazy how she does not know where she is, or remember where her room is, or even know that dad has been gone for 23 years, but she can say a "zinger" that is appropriate to the conversation and we can laugh and joke about it.
    It is such a crazy disease! And yes you are so right, she is still in there and I am going to enjoy it when it shows up!
    Thank you for your words and may God truly bless you and all of us in this journey!

    And I now have a new term for these moments, "Zing!"
    Donna Turner

  3. Another Zing story: I've been living with a couple, the wife of whom has had early onset Alzheimer's for more than 10 years. Early on in my time with them the husband suggested we all go to the local yogurt store, and as we were headed to the car, Margaret and I arrived at the door at the same time. I stepped aside and said, "You go first, I'll follow you out." Without missing a beat, she said, "Well, then there'll be TWO of us wandering around!! I was stunned by her quick humor. After 2 years, sadly, she now lives in a "memory facility".

    Yet another story: She and I were watching TV when a commercial came on: A couple were pulling up in their car to a creepy looking house, when a mussed-up, crazy-looking, strangely dressed woman stepped onto the front veranda. The man says, Siri, find us certified lodgings! That woman looks strange!" Margaret points to the TV screen and quips, "That's ME!!!"–and we both burst into laughter.

  4. Another Zing story: I've been living with a couple, the wife of whom has had early onset Alzheimer's for more than 10 years. Early on in my time with them the husband suggested we all go to the local yogurt store, and as we were headed to the car, Margaret and I arrived at the door at the same time. I stepped aside and said, "You go first, I'll follow you out." Without missing a beat, she said, "Well, then there'll be TWO of us wandering around!! I was stunned by her quick humor. After 2 years, sadly, she now lives in a "memory facility".

  5. Thank you so much for that – it helps me accept my own situation. I read all I can on that subject and a good part of my hope comes from the fact that I just happen to do what is very good for my brain: I still accept to do translation (but I don't seem to be good at using new features…) I still play piano, although nobody has time to listen to the tunes I have written. By the way, out of the 60 (or more) tunes I wrote, there are a few for which I can't remember the tune. Luckily, I have kept written copies of the words… but there is at least one that is only written by hand… and I am not sure that it is one of my songs… Of course, I would not include that one in an album… Ha, ha, ha!

    Not long before she died, I had a good laught with my mother. I am sitting beside her and she looks at me and she says to me: 'You are such a nice person!' as I was sitting with her. And I said, 'Well, of course I am a nice person, I am Patricia'. So, she looks at me and seems to appogize… and we bursted out, laughing together… Another time, we are sitting in the front porch and Mom looks like she is in complete shock as she sees a child pijama on the clothe line across the street. 'Who would dare doing that to a young child?' I said: I don't think it is a child – it looks more like a pyjama'. She looks again and she laughed so much… as I did also. Thanks a million times for what you people do for 'PEOPLE LIKE ME'
    Patricia Deslauriers 75 years old… I guess.

    Patricia Deslauriers

  6. My mom had Alzheimer’s and dementia and of course I wanted to spend every waking moment with her I didn’t want to miss anything and I do know that when she was there I took advantage of it and for the most of it she seemed lost but I always made sure that I was there or somebody she knew was there where she would never feel alone she knew she had Alzheimer’s whenever she was first diagnosed she knew something was wrong with her she would look in the mirror and say what’s wrong with me or I know that lady she is a good woman and I say yes she is and she says she’s a pretty lady I say yes she is you know she never did like the word no but as her also she fought a lot in the beginning and then I don’t know toward middle way just like she accepted that was just the way things were and she let me help do things for her as long as she was never told no I just got creative in the way I told her we couldn’t do it but it was all good I wouldn’t have had it any other way the last year the she was sick which was 2008 she ended up with colon cancer and also had to have her leg amputated so once that happened with her leg especially that really took her spirit away and and then of course in November of 2008 she passed away but there’s not a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t think about things funny things that she would say and you know thst would just make my day really and my heart does go out to all those that are going through the same thing and if I could do anything I would like to spend time with people that are in that same situation to help them and be what I need to be for that moment to just listen and know they r safe. Let them talk and let me express themselves but anyway I just wanted to share that my heart goes out to you and your family and God bless

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)

Alz.org main site  |  Research  |  Advocacy  |  Care and support  |  Message boards  |  Disclaimer  |  Donate  |  Contact us  |  Sign up for e-news
© 2011 Alzheimer's Association | Blog Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha