Tag Archives: Mom

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It is hard to know when I first noticed that my parents were aging.

The closer you are to a subject, the more your perceptions are distorted and you don’t see as clearly.

For example, my mother and the mother of a childhood friend of mine both grew up in Germany.

When I would visit my friend, I was always struck by how thick his mother’s accent was so many decades after living in the states.

One day my friend remarked on how thick my mom’s German accent was, and I was like: What accent?

So too it has been in discovering that my parents have gotten older.

The revelation was most forcefully driven home after they had been traveling with a bus tour and Dad tripped in a parking lot and fell, fracturing his arm.

A trip to the emergency room and later his own doctor back at home left his arm in a convoluted sling that rendered the arm immobile and pretty much useless.

I learned that Mom had to feed Dad because his dominant arm was out of commission. He was also having difficulty sleeping because of the discomfort and pain.

When my wife and I visited a few weeks after Dad was on the mend, it was shocking to see Mom sticking a napkin under his collar while he ate with his non-dominant hand.

And a month after that, Dad fell off a chair while reaching for something on the floor while visiting us. I was in the kitchen when I heard a noise and the next thing I saw was Dad on his side on the floor.

It was quite the shock to see Dad — an authority figure who commanded respect and who I remember from childhood as being the strong guy I turned to for leadership — out of commission like that.

My reflections on all of this resurfaced after my brother-in-law’s father recently died at age 90. Ed’s dad was an energetic go-getter who unexpectedly took a bad turn after heart surgery.

And within weeks of his death, my former father-in-law, a contemporary of my Dad’s, also died years after learning he had Parkinson’s disease.

Dad has had a heart attack,  a defibrillator installed and significantly slowed down over the past six years. There have also been a couple of medical crises set off by high heat and lack of hydration.

All of that said, Dad, who will be 79 in the fall, is in good spirits and will soon have physical therapy. He is even driving again.

Mom looked a little worse for the wear immediately after all of the strain of his fall but things seem be more settled.  Though she complains about being old, there’s not much slowing her down.

They live in a retirement community that residents euphemistically call “God’s waiting room.” While there’s a bit of gallows humor about that, there is no escaping that, in the end, time claims everyone, including your parents.

Baking While Intoxicated

When I was a kid, the weeks leading up to Christmas were literally the sweet spot for my Dad and my sisters and I because Mom would be baking up a storm.

Butter cookies in the shapes of trees and wreaths with colored crystals sprinkled on them, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, linzer tarts, butter cookies with a dollop of melted chocolate in the center…you name it, she was pumping these tasty treats out like crazy in the cramped kitchen of our Bronx apartment.

The sounds of whirring electric beaters and clanging cookie sheets could be heard until well past 10 p.m. as she baked mounds and mounds of cookies for family and friends.

This was also a special time of the year since, as I got older, I could help her in the kitchen to prepare the dough and do KP. I got to spend time at my mother’s elbow learning how to bake, but just as importantly, simply to spend time with her.

Her talents in mass-producing such delectable treats sparked a cat-and-mouse game between Mom and the rest of the family. She would have to hide the many tins brimming with cookies so my sisters and Dad and I would not raid them.

(I recall sneaking cookies from the tins and rearranging the layers so as to hide my tracks and make it appear nothing had been removed. Forget it. I had Dick Tracy for a mother and she could spot the telltale signs of cookie pilfering.)

True story: When in my teens I transcribed many of my mother’s recipes on a typewriter, I included these instructions at the bottom of her butter cookie recipe: “Place into cookie tins and scream at husband and kids for eating them all just before Christmas.”

That notation was but just one example of what a major smart ass I was as a kid. As much as I admired Mom’s baking prowess, it was not beyond the reach of the snarkiness of my young adulthood.

Back then, and even today, Mom liked her cordials and her occasional beer. Well, one night (30 years ago to the month, in fact) she was baking and quaffing her thirst in the hot kitchen with a Michelob beer.

What came next was that she burned a batch of cookies and, separately, realized she forgot to add eggs to one of her cookie doughs!

While it’s more likely that fatigue rather than imbibing contributed to these errors, it was fodder for yours truly to write up a “ticket” for B.W.I: Baking While Intoxicated.

My Mom kept the ticket, lo these many years, and as you can see in the photo I noted under “Course of Action: Lock up all the liquor to prevent nipping. (She has a previous record of making too much merry with Hagen Daz cordial.)”

It was signed by “U.R. Sloshed, Officer in Charge (Kitchen Detail).”

But here’s the thing: No matter how much baking I do, my handiwork still cannot compare to hers – even if she’s been tippling!