Corned Beef and Cabbage

My mom and my sister and I had a new tradition. My mom was in a nursing home, and every Sunday, my sister would pick her up and bring her to my house, and I would make dinner. While we were eating and after dinner, I would turn on Game Show Network, and we’d watch America Says and Family Feud. My mom’s hearing wasn’t very good, even with hearing aids, and she’d answer the wrong questions correctly, and my sister and I would laugh. My mom would ask why we were laughing, and we’d tell her, and she would laugh at herself. When it was time for my sister to bring my mom back, I would ask what she wanted the next week. With a twinkle in her eye, she would always answer the same thing, “Corned beef and cabbage.” I don’t know why she was so enamored of my corned beef, but that was her favorite meal. I don’t remember what I made on March 1st, but it wasn’t corned beef. It was the last time I made dinner for my mom and the last time I would ever hug her, kiss her, touch her and make sure her seatbelt was secure before she left. The next week, I wasn’t feeling well, and the coronavirus had just started to rear its ugly head, so I cancelled dinner, because I didn’t want to give it to my mom if I had it. I cancelled the next week as well, because I was still under the weather.

After that, there were the occasional visits to the nursing home, only through my mom’s room’s window, as the lockdown had begun. Once, my sister was able to see her outside, of course at a distance away. However, the rules were quickly changed back, and there were only window visits after that. It would make her so happy when someone visited her, as so many residents didn’t have anyone. We would yell through the window, and she would look out and see the dog, and she would delight in watching him. There would be the exchange of a thousand I love yous and thrown kisses at the end of the visits. I took the dog to the vet on Wednesday. I decided to stop and see my mom. I usually would have my sister call the nurses and tell them to make sure the blinds were open and my mom was in her wheelchair by the window. The dog was antsy, and I was tired, so I just parked the car and walked to her window with the dog. I saw my mom in bed, and she was awake, so I banged on the window. She didn’t hear me. I kept banging for 5 minutes, but she never looked over and no nurses passed by. I was going to go back to the car and call my sister, but I had another stop to make, and reassured that my mom looked okay, I decided to leave and come back up in a couple of days.

That evening, my sister called me at almost midnight. The nursing home had called her and told her that my mom was complaining of some chest pain and shortness of breath. They sent her to the hospital just as a precaution. Now, my mom can be a bit of a drama queen, so my sister and I hoped that it was just a panic attack. Of course, the hospital would not allow us to visit her. The next morning, we learned that she was moved upstairs to a room, and they were watching her just to make sure she was stable. The nurse said that she probably caught a cold, and that’s why she was a little short of breath. All her other vital signs were good. A little later on in the day, my sister called me. They tested my mom for COVID, and it was positive. She was on oxygen, but her levels were still low. They moved her to a room upstairs. My sister, brother and I had to decide over the phone about whether a DNR should be in place. With too many tears and too much heartbreak, we decided that, should worse come to worst, we couldn’t have anyone punishing her body when there would be little hope. My sister, brother and niece Facetimed with her. She was lucid, but it was hard for her to talk. I couldn’t pull myself together enough to Facetime with her, knowing I might soon regret it. Later on, I still struggled with it and almost called my sister to ask how to arrange it. Then the phone rang. It was 8:32 p.m. A very sweet lady said, “This is Lydia from University Hospital…” I don’t remember the rest of what she said, other than her being very kind as she told me my mom didn’t suffer, and a nurse was with her and holding her hand when she stopped breathing. And that was that.

There were the phone calls and the crying and the shock and everything that goes along with someone you love dying. Then there was the profound loneliness of not being able to hug another person, to be comforted. I was glad that a kind nurse cared enough for my mom, a stranger, to hold her hand so she wouldn’t be alone, so she would be comforted as she left this life, but I selfishly wondered who would comfort me. My brother and my son immediately said they were going to call the airlines and book flights here. I know I must have sounded unhinged as I yelled at them not to come here. “It’s not safe! You don’t realize how bad it is here!” My son is in New York City, so he knows how bad it can be. My brother is in Montana, so it is still an abstract picture to him. I begged and pleaded and demanded a promise that they wouldn’t come here, and they both finally agreed.

My sister, my nephew and I will bury my mom on Wednesday. I will not be able to be next to them or touch them or hug them, but at least they will be close. We won’t have a funeral until this nightmare is behind us. Then, my son, my brother and others who loved my mom can come and grieve and celebrate her life with us. We’ll laugh at how funny she was and at the irony of delaying her funeral, because if there was anything my mom loved, it was a good funeral. We’ll hug and sit together and share a meal. I think I’ll make corned beef and cabbage.



Filed under snark

56 responses to “Corned Beef and Cabbage

  1. tengrain

    Peace and love, Nonnie. It’s all I can offer, but it’s all yours.



  2. Mark Davis

    I’m truly sorry about your mother’s passing, especially from this criminally neglected pandemic.

    • Thank you, Mark. My heart was further broken when I saw that John Lewis died the same day as my mom. I hope they passed each other on the way to the afterlife and had a good laugh about what assholes Twitler and Ron DeSantis are.

  3. Sandra

    I love you Donna! 💔 A big hug for you, Barbara & Adam

  4. On Nonnie, I have no words, only tears and a broken heart for your family. My late mother was a registered nurse. I loved spending hours talking to her about medicine. She was the most brilliant medical mind. Everyone always said that. I wish she were around to talk about this. BUT this would infuriate and kill her.

    Those of us willing to face reality are stunned, frustrated, angry, and most of all, despondent. We want this nightmare to end. instead of getting worse.

    I am truly so very sorry and sad for what you, your family, and your delightful mother had/have to endure.

    Bless you for sharing with us. You’ll never walk alone. G-d help us to overthrow this corrupt regime, not just in “executive” branch, but Congress and the courts.

    I know you will hold onto your memories, keeping your mother alive in your hearts. I’ll always think of you all when I think of corned beef and Family Feud. Much love to you and yours.

    • Thank you, Jenny. I am sad to the depths of my being, but I am also angry. Just a few days ago, my sister told me that the nursing home is being forced by the state of Florida to accept 60 COVID patients. I have no idea how they will protect the other 60 residents. They are already understaffed. I don’t know how my mom got it. The staff and the patients are tested regularly, and she was not allowed out of her room. She wore a mask when a nurse or an aide came into her room. I blame DeSantis. As far as I am concerned, he killed my mom.

      Bless nurses like your mom (maybe she’ll be there to greet my mom), as well as the aides and all the other people who are taking care of our loved ones. ❤

      • OH, Nonnie (Donna) I am furious! I just didn’t want to bring that energy to you because this is not about how I feel. I felt it vital to only express my sadness for you and your family. I am furious and sad for all of us. We feel every single one of these losses. And care and worry about our medical and nursing staff, from those who clean the toilets to doctors.

        It is STUNNING to me that people say, well, I don’t know anyone who got it, so it’s not real. Like, where do they live? I spoke to someone who mentioned losing family. I realized it was an Italian family in NY, on the cover of NYTimes, when the outbreak was first being reported. I’m talking to a woman in Florida, a stranger, and … I am literally 2 degrees separated by so many who lost someone. Yet people won’t believe this cos they don’t know anyone who is ill or taken from us. People need to get around more, online!

        Of course Trump, DeSantis and ALL GOP and ALL who voted for them and ALL who didn’t vote for HRC or against DeSantis are complicit murderers. As far as I am concerned, they ALL killed you mom. And every one of those taken by Covid and them. You betcha!

        Thanks for all you do. Please know we are livid and agree, these people are murderers. They are as bad as Hitler. As a Jew who grew up on the rise of Hitler (my Mother’s stories) and the complicity of many Europeans (my personal research), I say this as fact, not hyperbole. Connect the dots.

        Ok, enough of my feelings. Just so you know WE ARE FURIOUS. And we are horrified and sorry your family is suffering this huge loss. May the souls and spirits of your mother and John Lewis be dancing. Away from these dark times.

        • I reconnected with a long-lost cousin on Facebook a year ago or so. In that space of time, he lost his mother, his uncle (my mom’s first cousins), my uncle (my mom’s brother) and now my mom. I was thinking last night that our family was decimated in the camps. His grandfather and my grandmother (brother and sister) and their mother were the only ones out of a family of 12 who made it here. So many aunts and uncles and cousins we never got to meet, and now we have lost the ones who made it here safely and their children.

          The dots are so close together, they don’t need to be connected to see the whole picture. It’s corporate profits and Twitler’s reelection uber alles, and it doesn’t matter who is sacrificed for that. Throw in the racism, the antisemitism and the fascism. There are no pieces missing.

          I thought twice about posting this. For the first time in years, i cross-posted at Daily Kos, because I want people to know what is going on down here. I want them to know how quickly a loved one can be taken away by the pure selfishness of bastards like Twitler and DeSantis.

          • Now you are REALLY breaking my heart! It’s so unbelievable to me that people actually deny the Holocaust or just as bad, have no idea what it was or how it happened. We know those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

            It’s also stunning to me when I read personal accounts of people, and they don’t always have to be Jewish, because others were rounded up too, lost family in the camps.

            When I grew up in the 1950s — I turn 70 this Monday, July 20 — adults always used the term “concentration camps.” Even as a child, I wondered why they didn’t call them “extermination camps.” My parents didn’t want us to grow up scared. And to never make a big deal. Just fit in. Assimilate. On every level, not just being Reform Jews, more secular than religious. But one can never get away from being Jewish, as Jews and other saw in WW2. And everyday life now too.

            I’ve read many obits about Holocaust survivors who were taken by Covid. It’s tragic. The fought and survived Fascism in Europe, but killed by it in America.

            All we can do is keep talking! I appreciate you cross-posting on Daily Kos. It’s vital people see that it’s not just the news reporting this. Real people sharing real losses.

            I don’t know how enough people will be able to vote and their votes counted in November to make a difference. That is going to be a real s**t show. I’ve wanted this election, yet dreaded it, since Nov 2016. We know it’s gonna be beyond our worst nightmares. But we must not ever shut up nor give up nor give in.

            With that, I am so grateful for your wise and right on posts and tweets. And for this thread. Grateful we have an op to remind you we love you, so sad for your loss, and that you are not alone. And we are madder than hell and don’t want to take it anymore.

            We’re fighting the good fight. It ain’t over yet. Get some rest. Do something that feels good for and to you. Listen to music, watch movies or shows, something that makes you smile and transports you elsewhere.

            I am a famous early punk rock photographer. I’m working on sharing stories behind my photos. Been listening to early punk music as I sort my photos, notes and thoughts. Brings up happy sad regretful grateful memories.

            But for a few minutes, away from twitter and news articles, I drift back to a time filled with music and people. We punks warned people! But no one was listening.

            Please go listen to something which soothes your soul. You deserve it. We are entering a New Moon in Cancer. Time for self-nurture. I just got an email about that. Good reminder.

            As Joe Strummer sang, “anger can be power, the fury of the hour.” Blondie sang, “dreaming is free.”

            So hard for me to ever forget that, as I look at my famous photos of them. Memories of better times, hanging with, dancing and photographing these great bands. Whose words and music are timeless.

            No matter your prefs (Sondheim’s Into the Woods, the orig Broadway cast, is my go-to), please nurture yourself.

            Music soothes the savage whatever … it ain’t over yet and we need, no, want, you to stay well, ok!

  5. Donald Watson

    I am so sorry to read this. Please stay safe know that you are loved and appreciated.

  6. Jules

    Awe, Raisins, I’m so sorry. What scary, devastating times we are in. Your mom sounds like a lovely person, may she rest in peace..

  7. Nonnie, I am so sorry. Your mom loved you and your corned beef and cabbage and definitely you. Remember all the fun, good love from her.
    No words can truly speak to your grief.

  8. Very sorry to read this, and especially that the pandemic interfered with your being able to visit normally toward the end. I’m sure the frequent visits and home-cooked dinners meant a lot to her. You did all you could, and I hope knowing that will be a comfort to you.

    • Thank you, Infidel. Not being able to see her and touch her was the worst part. I kept hoping this nightmare would be over soon so I could give her one more hug, make her one more meal. There’s a site online that has archives of my old hometown’s newspaper. I searched my mom’s name, and I was shocked at how many articles there were, some about things I never knew about. I was waiting for the day that I could tell her about them and show them to her. There was no way to do that shouting through a closed window. Now I will never be able to do it. She loved being the center of attention, and she would have beamed reading her name in print. She would be thrilled by the comments and caring here. Thank you for being a good friend, Infidel. ❤

      • I know the feeling. It’s seven months now since my own mother died, and I still often find myself thinking that, say, I should play her some new piece of music I’ve discovered to see what she thinks (she knew a lot about music).

        You’re going to find it hard for a while as the memories and thoughts keep overwhelming you at unexpected times. But it will eventually get better. You never “get over” a thing like this, but you eventually attain a sort of equilibrium. Always remember how much you did for her, and that she (I’m sure) would have wanted you to be happy.

  9. therub

    where’s the kleenex? what a beautiful tribute knoodles. my heart goes out to you and your family. when we lose loved ones, all we have left are the memories so it’s important to make good ones while we’re alive and you did that in spades. what a privilege your mom had in her sunday dinners with her daughters who went above and beyond the call of duty in caring for her at the end of her life. and what a privilege you and your sibs had in a mother like fast helen. your mom knew that you loved her and that you did everything you could for her. let that be the salve to help cool your anger and grief. she was a special lady with a keen sense of humor that entertained others and who liked corned beef and cabbage. how wonderful that she lived and enjoyed such a long life and left you with so many wonderful memories.

    • Oh Loonietic! How much I wished that one day you would be meet her. She would have immediately made you her daughter. I could not have gotten through the last few months (and a lot of other previous days and months and years) without you. You are my friend, my therapist, my support system, my sister, my twinsie. You will never know how much I treasure our friendship. ❤

  10. My deepest condolences. Everyday I hear of another death due to this terrible disease. I’ve lost three friends this past month. This was a lovely tribute to your mother. Hugs

    • I am so sorry to hear of your friends, silverapplequeen. Sometimes I think we should have flags hanging outside our front doors to commemorate the people who are suffering from or whom we have lost to this plague, like they do for those who were lost in war. Maybe with all those flags flying, people will realize that it’s not something that won’t affect them. Thank you for stopping by. I send hugs back to you. ❤

  11. Nonnie, your story touches my heart. You are someone who sees things as they are, something that I think I inherited from my father’s line, and that only increases the poignancy of you Mom’s passing. Please know that you are not alone. You have my deepest sympathy.

  12. Nonnie, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Sending peaceful thoughts for you and your family during this difficult time.

  13. Liz montero

    So sad
    Sorry for your lost
    You all were so very good to her
    And she had to have been a loving caring mom from the way you speak so sweetly of her
    I felt your loss

  14. Damn, damn, daman. I am reeling in shock after reading the sad news. Everyday I have wondered why I have not seen a post from you. Maybe there have been posts and I missed them- I have not gone back to look. I was very afraid that you had gotten sick and died of covid. I am so very sorry to read about the loss of your dear beautiful mother. I can’t think of any words that will ease your grief and anger. I just hope that in some way you can find peace and solace in all the fond memories of your mother.

    Yes, Twittler and DeSantis are evil bastards, Abbott has not done much better. Again I have no words that fit these two men who are responsible for so much death and destruction in and of our country. Texas, my state is now ranked among those with highest death rates and cases. I stay at home and I am still afraid.

    Be well and stay safe, Nonnie. Sending you virtual hugs.

    Yvonne Daniel

    • I’m so glad to see you, Yvonne. I know that Texas is just as bad as Florida, and I’ve been worried about you. Please take every precaution, and stay safe and healthy. Thank you for your condolences. Tomorrow is her burial. I’ll be putting up new posts eventually. I just need some time to process this new reality. ❤

  15. Chandler In Las Vegas

    Nonnie, I hate when horrible things happen in horrible times. {{{tears}}}

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Chandler. I just got back from her burial. Not being able to see your loved ones is the worst. Seeing a few of them and not being able to hug or even touch them when everyone is hurting is second.

  16. Joy

    This was both beautiful and heartbreaking. I’ve been thinking about you, Adam, and your sister daily. It’s awful that you can even be around each other to grieve.
    Your mom was such a wonderful human being. I honestly can’t think of a moment when she wasn’t smiling. She must have had some strong cheek muscles ☺️
    I love you and hope you can have a proper funeral soon. Please please be safe down there. I’m so worried for you all.

    • I worry about you all the time, my other child, especially working in the hospital. My mom loved you and Robyn. Whenever there was some kind of event, she always asked if you would be there. We buried her today.

      We are going to talk to a reporter tomorrow. The CEO of the nursing home is throwing open the doors to accept 60 COVID patients when they apparently don’t have it under control now. They told my sister that they were being forced by the state to take those patients, but it turned out to be a lie. The CEO (his name is Andrew Weisman of NuVision Management volunteered the entire wing of the facility (NuVision has 7 facilities here and 7 in New Jersey, including facilities for kids). The reporter (from Channel 10) wrote an article about it. I wrote on her Facebook page begging her to stay on the story. She got my phone number and called me. My sister and I are going to talk to her tomorrow. Hopefully, she can call attention to what is going on, and fewer people will die.

      Anyway, I am gutted, but hearing from you makes me feel a little better. I love you and miss you and can’t wait to see you and give you a big hug and feed you chicken soup. Give Robyn my love. ❤

      • Joy Vinci

        The shadiness of some of these organizations is infuriating. From the beginning they haven’t been doing enough to protect the elderly community. Covid patients shouldn’t be anywhere even remotely close to a nursing home.
        I love that you don’t just quietly accept the utter BS that’s been going on. Get ’em Nonnie!
        Stay strong ❤️

  17. Nonnie, I just caught up on your posts and could tell from the first paragraph that this one was going to break my heart. I’m so sorry for your loss. So sorry that you weren’t able to say good-bye, and so sorry that your family can’t be there with you to hold you in your sorrow.

    You are such a wonderful writer, and this post about your mom is no exception. It is exquisite. I wish you strength, healing, courage, and grace during this awful time. Please know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. Love, E

    • Thank you, my dearest Eleanor. There is no grace, only anger. The facility my mom was in, where she caught the virus, had 60 residents. As of this week, 42 have tested positive. That’s according to the state of Florida. Even though the virus is raging throughout the entire wing (which makes up half the facility), the CEO of the company that owns the place (and several more) volunteered the other wing to be a 50-patient COVID ward, and the state is allowing it. The same company owns and operates a New Jersey long-term care facility that was among the highest in the state for infections and deaths, so they can’t claim ignorance about how the disease can spread. Even the staff in my mom’s facility continue to test positive and get sick. My sister and I are in touch with some reporters and the family members of other residents. As I was typing this, my sister called me to tell me my mom’s ex-roommate died today. I am gutted, infuriated and terrified. My sister was asked if we wanted any of my mom’s possessions, and of course we did, but we declined, because it’s not safe to go there. We will continue to talk to everyone we can and try to prevent a lot of other people dying. It’s too late for my mom, but hopefully not for all the others.

      Love you. ❤

  18. Jan

    Dear nonnie… I am beyond sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  19. Carol "Kiki"

    What a beautiful. beautiful essay. I cry for your loss of a loving mother and for your inability to properly grieve her loss. And, perhaps my sadness is also the knowledge that it is likely to be the story of my own mother, and that of tens of thousands of other mothers and fathers. Thank you for sharing and for doing so in such an elegant and heartfelt way.

    • Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Kiki. I hope your mother and those tens of thousands of other moms and dads don’t meet the same fate as my mom. Sadly, this administration is aided and abetted by those who care only for their own political survival and not for the survival of ordinary people. The incompetence and indifference is stunning. My best wishes to you and to your mom. ❤

  20. So sorry for your loss. My father died almost two years ago and when this pandemic started, I was actually grateful that he was gone, not being able to imagine the hardship of being kept away from him in the final months of his life. I’m glad someone was with your mom at the end. She seems like she was a wise and loving woman.

    • Thank you, Carol. You are very kind. I lost my father 4 years ago. The last time I saw him was on my birthday. He died in the early morning hours the next day. I don’t think he would have been able to cope with the isolation this pandemic demands. My condolences to you on the loss of your dad.

      • Each parent’s loss is rough. My mom died 16 years before my dad. He did a great job living on his own for the next 14 years with minimal help. Sounds like we were both lucky to have great parents.

  21. My heart aches for you and for all those who have lost a part of themselves this bitter year. My wife died suddenly in May, not of COVID, of a massive bacterial infection that overwhelmed her already-compromised immune system. And yet there is the common point of not being able to be there at the end, not being able to hold her or even see her one last time, of not being able to offer a familiar touch, a familiar voice, at the end. I wrote then that “Death in the time of COVID is different.” It still is. And it still hurts.

    • Oh, Larry, my heart breaks for you. I don’t know if anyone who has not experienced it can understand the overwhelming heartbreak of not being able to be with someone you love dearly and then not being able to be there to say goodbye. It breaks my heart that so many others will be experiencing the same pain you and I and millions of others are feeling, especially because so much of that pain was preventable. I guess all we can do is hope that things get better and hope that the pain of loss is lessened with time. I wish you all good things for the new year, Larry. May your beloved wife’s memory be a blessing. ♥

      • Thank you for the kind words. My brother lost his wife to cancer several years ago and he advised me that “You never ‘get over it.’ It just eventually stops becoming controlling or central and becomes solely something bad (very bad) that happened in your life.” We (and all the others) will get to that point. In the meantime, remember that “It’s okay to be not okay.”

        • When my niece died suddenly several years ago, I told the people gathered at her funeral what I had heard Joe Biden say a few days earlier when he spoke to military families who had lost someone: “There will come a day, I promise you, when the thought of your son, or daughter, or your wife or your husband, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. It will happen. My prayer for you is that day will come sooner than later.”