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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb 27, 2012/ 4 Adar, 5772

A stroke leaves her, yet steals her away

By Mitch Albom








http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | She is in there somewhere.

I can see her, behind her own eyes, which, after the strokes, always seem to be squinting. She grips the table and bites her lower lip. Often she looks away, as if observing an invisible fly.

"Back here," I say. "Back here, Mom."

She turns her head back, her body slumped in the wheelchair. At times she doesn't appear to hear me at all.

But now and then she makes eye contact and smiles, and when that happens, she comes alive in a cascade of memories.

My mother.

She is in there somewhere.

I know it. My father knows it. My brother and sister know it. We just want her to tell us. To confirm the fact. To blurt out in that wonderfully strong voice that used to holler down the street when it was time for dinner, "Yes, I hear you. I hear all of you. I hear everything -- including the jokes. I am who I always was. I just don't speak much anymore."

We hunger for those sentences.

We wait.

If you have elderly parents, or a loved one with any form of brain damage -- a stroke, a closed head injury -- if you have relatives who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's, or any number of afflictions that rob you of who you used to be yet leave your body intact, then you know what I am talking about. The maddening tug between living and being "alive."

What kind of world is this for her, I ask? To be on the outside of all conversations? To be wheeled away from dinner tables she used to dominate? To be spoon-fed her meals at age 81? To have a bib as standard clothing?

"This is not who she is!" you want to scream to the heavens. "Restore her dignity! For mercy's sake, at least let her speak!"

After all, ours was always such a noisy relationship, filled with laughs and lectures and late-night bull sessions, united always by her greatest gift: communication.

We were talkers, our family. We didn't sit in silence. Who sat in silence? There was always food to be passed, opinions to be expressed, love and pride and gentle criticism to be lavished, and stories, so many stories, of our childhoods, of their marriage, of the old days in Brooklyn, this crazy uncle, this nutty aunt. Silence? Who sat in silence?

But now we sit in silence. We visit by holding hands, or squeezing a knee, or locking fingers, or kissing her white hair and saying we love her and melting when we see her try to form the words "I love you, too" -- voiceless, just a mouthing. We cling to it like gospel.

Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U.S. Which means millions of people out there have experienced a suddenly-lesser version of themselves.

In my mother's case, it was gradual, small episodes, cerebral ischemias, followed by a bad fall, a severe "incident," then who knows how many more? Doctors are unclear on this stuff. "Could get worse. Might get better. Could reoccur. Might not." The brain, true to its design, mystifies.

So we sit and we visit and we talk in repeating, child-like ways -- "You hungry, Mom? You hungry? Hmm?" -- the way she once talked to us as infants, and we find the scariest part is not that our mother's voice is missing, but that the memory of it is beginning to fade.

I have not heard her speak in several years, not the way she used to. That timbre and optimism. It's gone. It's hard to conjure. It's been replaced by slow, coughing rasps, or a barely whispered "yes" or "no," as her head turns to look at that invisible fly.

You want a probe, a scope, some magical device that can weave through her brain and find her in some hidden cavern, smartly dressed, setting the table and blowing you a kiss.

"Hi, Mom," you want to say.

"Hi, sweetie," you want to hear.

She is in there somewhere, behind these squinting eyes and biting teeth. What was that game we used to play as kids? "Come out, come out, wherever you are"? But we are no longer kids, even if she is always our mother, and we miss her terribly, even as she sits right in front of us.



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