Monday, February 16, 2009

When the Stars Align

I had begun writing the last blog entry on Friday, but was interrupted and finished it up on Tuesday, February 10, Saul’s birthday, so it has not been so terribly long since I last wrote. I spent the end of last week recovering from this nasty cold. I was beginning to feel better by Thursday afternoon and was looking forward to the kids all visiting this Presidents’ Day Weekend. Saul ran out to Costco to pick up some last minute supplies before heading out to a meeting at Chestnut Hill College. He rushed through and went straight there in order to be in time for the meeting, but as it turned out, the meeting was canceled and the notification not emailed until 9 a.m. for an 11:30 a.m. meeting. With all the rushing around, he uncharacteristically had not checked his mail when he first awoke. So much for the convenience of modern communication!

He was to have gone straight to the doctor for his two-week checkup of the fractured arm, but instead, I had the benefit of his help getting dinner ready for a while before he needed to be there. The doctor was pleased with the progress of his healing and range of motion and said that he would evaluate again when Saul returns from Israel to see if he will benefit from physical therapy.

Mom’s hospice social worker, Marian, returned from a leave-of-absence for surgery, and we spent an hour at the kitchen table after Mom fell asleep discussing the progression of her condition. I let her know that Adele, Ken and I, along with Saul, have definitely decided to see the process through at home no matter what lies ahead. She let me know that I could count on Mom being kept on hospice for at least the next two-month evaluation period beginning March 1.

Shabbat dinner was a rather low-key affair this week considering how I was feeling. I made a large pot of chestnut soup because I discovered that it is one of the few things Mom will eat and enjoy these days. She lives mostly on Ensure. I also made Israeli salad, Boston lettuce salad with homemade Russian dressing, baba ganoush, macaroni and cheese and baked salmon burgers from Costco. I took homemade challah out of the freezer. For dessert, we had slices of Izzy’s leftover birthday cake with fresh blueberries and some chocolate-covered popcorn that Larry brought. Beth had other plans, but we were joined by our friend, Faith. Jessica picked up Sami early from school and drove our SUV up from Baltimore. Ari’s plane landed early at 5 p.m. from San Francisco, but he decided he was too tired to make the three-hour drive from D.C. He also is getting over his cold and seems to be suffering all the same symptoms two days ahead of me. He, unfortunately, had the added misery of fluid in the ears during landings and endured the annoyance of a clogged ear all weekend. I hope he is better by tomorrow when he is due to fly back again to San Francisco for a few more days.

It was such a joy to have everyone here together for a while. I sat up late talking with Jess on Friday night after the girls were tucked in bed with their “Shmuel” story. They told me, when I went in to kiss them goodnight that the story had been about our second date, which was a disaster culminating with my accidentally breaking his favorite pair of sunglasses. Jess has been feeling pretty good during her pregnancy so far, despite the fact that she is having to take everything very easy.

Saturday morning, the girls woke me at 5:45 a.m. The clock in their room was set incorrectly. I gave them some breakfast and proceeded to straighten up everything that I had been too sick to do during the week. I was feeling good for the first time in several days. By eight, everyone else was up. Mom allowed herself to be wheeled to the table for breakfast and I felt organized and energetic when I showered before dressing to attend services. Jessica stayed at home with Mom while we took the girls to services. Faith’s school was closed for Presidents’ Weekend, so she was able to join us at services on this rare occasion. Larry, who lives down the street from her had brought her along. Our friend Elaine also showed up Saturday morning. We had sandwiches and salads during a luncheon after services that was sponsored by the president of the congregation in honor of his son’s Ben Torah, an event that takes place one year after the bar mitzvah, before leaving to take the girls to visit their G.G. Sima at Safe Haven at Lion’s Gate. The Torah portion was Yitro, which happened to be Saul’s portion, also. Among other events of the Exodus, this portion includes the Ten Commandments. Rabbi Addison spoke about the path we take to become better and more enlightened human beings. There was a discussion of whether one must recognize one’s shortcomings before repentance occurs and one can strive to eliminate bad qualities, as is the generally-accepted order of things; or whether one must first recognize the Godliness in one’s nature before recognizing and repairing character flaws—an interesting idea. Rabbi used the example of an overcritical parent whose child feels that nothing will please the parent and who becomes rebellious and resentful as a result; whereas a child who recognizes that the parent sees his or her potential will be more likely to strive to please the parent.

We rendezvoused with Ari at Lion’s Gate in the parking lot on his way up from DC and we all went in together to visit Saul’s mother. The rabbi at Lion’s Gate had just finished his service as we arrived and a woman had begun working with the assembled patients on some word recognition skills. Saul’s Mom lit up when she spotted the girls. There were longer silences during this visit and more confusion, but she appeared as happy and well-cared-for as ever. Ari brought the girls back in his new car, and Izzy was as delighted as he was at age five to sit in the driver’s seat, make pretend she was driving and figure out what all the neat buttons on the dashboard do.

While we were were at Lion’s Gate, Erica and Jessica had persuaded my Mom to let them color and style her hair. She looked wonderful when we returned, and joined us for dinner as well. The stars aligned all weekend. The weather was good enough for us all to make the long drives comfortably. Mom was well enough to allow her granddaughters to work on her appearance. Sunday morning, the weather was bright and sunny enough for us to attempt to wheel Mom out of the house and into the car for the 20-minute drive to attend Ava’s second birthday party at Adele and Larry’s home. The stars also aligned long enough for her to feel up to going there in the first place and to sit and socialize for about an hour.

Although I had taken pills for my allergies, I became asthmatic in the hour I spent there with the cats and dogs. On top of the little bit of my residual cold, my chest became congested, and I slept for three hours when we returned. I hated missing those hours because the time we all spend together as a family seems so limited to me. This morning, Saul had school, so we were up before the girls at 6:00 a.m. They joined us about 20 minutes later and Saul reluctantly kissed them goodbye. I gave them breakfast and had them all to myself for a while. Mom allowed herself to be wheeled to the table for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and, like me, cherished every minute we were able to spend together. When Jessica and then Ari joined us, we had very little time together before all the rushing around to begin to pack for home. They left around 11:30 a.m. and I have not been able to push away the sad thought that I may not see them for a few weeks, now.

My foray into Facebook has come just in time. Because of if, I was able to participate in a great deal of kvelling among friends and family over the successes of my wonderful son-in-law, Alex, who is not only a consummate educator, but an acclaimed author as well. He has produced an array of imaginative and useful books and materials for bringing Judaism to children and young adults that will be an incredible legacy for our future. During the week, I also received a personal note about my blog along with a wedding invitation from Saul’s cousins in Belgium, who are making a wedding for their daughter at the end of February, right before Saul is due to leave for Israel. If only we could travel by air as easily as we are able to get in the car and travel around our neighboring few states. I hope the stars will align so that everyone has a brilliant and smooth time in our encounters in the next few weeks. In Yiddish, we have the expression, “bashayrt,” which means basically the same thing, that all circumstances will fall into place so that we achieve our heart’s desire and that the journey will be effortless and enjoyable.


sabasenders said...


Ari said...

The plane ride did the trick, and I can finally hear in my left ear again!

Good thing I had to come back to SF--talk about stars aligning!