Passover is the time that my whole family gathers to celebrate the fact that we care about being a family. It is always a combination of wonderful and incredibly stressful, but it is no different than any other families—and not necessarily just Jewish families.
A LOT of fish
I haven’t blobbed for two days because I simply couldn’t. It was too difficult logistically. But I have found a way to communicate and I am going to try to tell the story from end to beginning. So today (The end) we made gefilte fish—from scratch. I guess there are 120 pieces which is less than we usually have.
Yesterday I took mom to the rehab center. Her caretaker left and we decided that a caretaker is not the answer. She needs to be with people and she needs to have care. But first she must be strong – hence the rehab facility. She likes it there and because she is very friendly, they like her and it turns out she is the Queen of the May. But last night she was trying to get something out of the closet and the door was not secured, so she fell. How horrible is that? I put mom in rehab when she is OK and needed minimal help, and she winds up needing rehab because they didn’t secure a closet door. It’s the ‘no fairs’ big time. But we’re dealing. The only real issue after the fall was that the rehab center didn’t want to let her leave the premises until she had an X-ray and they were sure there were no hairline fractures. This meant that she couldn’t go to Rosalie and Dickie’s to supervise the making of the gefilte fish. She was disappointed but she understood. In addition, she also had hoped to see Aunt Peppy, who was able to travel from Newburgh to supervise the hocking. Hocking is like chopping but you have to use the whole arm, and do it for a long time and no matter how long you do it, it isn’t enough.
It is so painful to see what has happened to mom and Aunt Peppy since last December. You may remember my blob about the collision of the walkers. But at that point they were both in physically OK shape and while mom refused to believe she had not been visited by three of her dead sisters, she was pretty lucid. That is no longer the case. Even with signs of the onset of early dementia—or she is forgetful and sometimes doesn’t know the days (she always knows what game show is on and when Dancing With the Stars is aired), Aunt Peppy’s confusion is far more painful. Maybe because she has always been so clear about everything that is more startling.
Peppy and the Fish pots
Anyway, we made about 120 pieces of fish. We started about 9:00 am and by 4:00 we had about the amount of fish we needed for the Passover feast – but who really knows. If you look at “GefiltefishChronicles.com”, you can share in our joy. David shot film of the transition—from generation to generation and I’m sure it’s pretty colorful. Yes we still yelled and tasted and hocked and laughed a lot. The best part of the day was kind of a deja vu moment, when the grinder we bought 4 years ago (it replaced a 50 year old grinder), stopped working. We were seriously concerned until Ro remembered that she had a Passover adapter/grinder for her Kitchen Aid. And then were we happy. No one wanted to be grinding or rather mushing fish for hours upon hours—we were much too excited about the hocking and the salting.( You have to grind it BEFORE you hock it – it’s a two step process.) No one killed anyone. Maybe because my pal Karen was helping and we thought we needed to be on good behavior ,and maybe because we were just thankful that we could be together and carry on this 100 year tradition. Sometime between 2 and 3, Dickie and I left to go to a Senior Citizen center to show the film and talk about our Passover. It was colorful. The attendees don’t hear very well and some were not sure when the film began and ended. So there was a mix of milling about, combined with some loud commentary. “What’d they say?” “ I never had Cholent on Passover.” And, “Who are these people?” Luckily I have seen the film 198 times, but it is still very hard for me to sit through a screening where people aren’t paying attention. I don’t know if it’s the pride of being a producer or that I just want people to love the family without interruption, but Dickie reminded me that it was a Mitzvah—so I felt Ok.
Somehow the Genuine Bunny Ears seemed appropos (Rosalie, Honey & David)
When we got back to Rosalie’s, someone suggested there needed to be a trip to Amazing Savings, but I was exhausted so David, Honey, and Rosalie, went to buy containers for the fish stock. I’m not saying they were over tired as well, but there apparently was no shortage of silliness. Then we went back to the rehab center where mom had still not had an X-ray. I informed them that we needed to have results by first thing in the morning because while she may not have made it to the gefilte fish party, there was absolutely no way she was going to miss her beauty parlor appointment.
The day ended with pizza and great wine back at Rosalie and Dick’s. We talked about things in the past and hopes for the future. We talked about the loss of loved ones and our feelings about all the changes taking place. And I shared the fact that mom was resigned to all the new moves. Maybe she even had a moment when she looked forward to some of the change. And as emotional as it was for me to think about how difficult it was for her to say farewell to the house we had called home for over 55 years, I was doing OK until, on the way out the door, she turned around, walked back into the den, and kissed my grandmother’s picture goodbye. We’re just sayin...Iris