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Say “I Love You” Now


We don’t know when my mother (Arlene) had the stroke — probably when she had the surgery to replace one of our heart valves (2014?). I remember talking to her after she was home from the hospital recovering at her sweetheart’s house (my mother fell in love with Paul when she was 77), and she talked about how there were words she wanted to say…but couldn’t get them to come out of her mouth.

It took months and months for me to identify what it was. Everyone (except Paul) said it was Alzheimer’s (because her mother had it), but none of her symptoms matched. When I watched videos of people with Alzheimer’s, none of them reminded me of my mother struggling to speak.

And then I watched a video of a young woman who had had a head injury that resulted in aphasia — the inability to speak due to damage to the part of her brain that controlled language. I watched another. And another. And I just cried. That was exactly what my mother sounded like.

I arranged for her to start speech therapy, and it was confirmed she had aphasia, but it would have required a lot of really hard work for her to recover her speech. More than she was able to give. Unfortunately, it just got worse. Stroke-related dementia also started setting in, as did difficulty in moving her right leg, and swallowing.

Paul remained by her side, but it was harder and harder for her to maintain relationships, as she didn’t have the ability to call people on her own. She still lived in her condo in NJ but spent more and more time at Paul’s house. I found a day center where she would have activities and social engagement in a supportive environment. On her first day, I felt like a mother dropping off her child to her first day at kindergarten. I watched from where she couldn’t see me and kept checking in on her every 10 minutes. She started going 3 times a week.

Her last visit to California to stay with me and David was August 2015. She was 80 and so beautiful. She struggled to speak, and walking was getting harder for her. (Amazingly, she made it up the 100 steps to our front door!) And then it occurred to me…while she struggled to get those darn words to come out of her mouth, she could still read.

So, I wrote a little script for her, confirmed with her that it’s what she would have said had she written it, and set up a teleprompter for her so she could tell her friends in her own words that she missed them, wanted to hear from them, and was moving in with Paul. This video is the result.

In 2017, Paul, my mother’s primary caregiver, fell and sustained injuries that required hospitalization and in-patient physical therapy. I rushed back out to NJ and spent a very difficult week coming to terms with the fact that she needed round-the-clock care. In what was nothing other than a divine gift, I was able to move her into a stellar nursing home just 20 minutes from Paul’s house. While I spent a lot of time flying back to NJ to see her, I had a video call with her every week.

While receiving the most incredible care, Arlene continued to decline until she was unable to speak, walk, feed herself, or take care of herself in any way.  Swallowing was the most difficult, and she began to lose weight. In 2019, my mother began to receive hospice care. In early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

She continued to weaken, and while I could see her in our video calls, I was unable to fly to NJ to be with her in person. On April 21, 2020 at 1:08 a.m. EST, my mother died. We know the time because she wasn’t alone when she passed. The night nurse was with her and held her hand as she breathed her last. 

I had a very difficult relationship with my mother for decades. We never gave up trying to understand one another, and by 2010, I had had my epiphany…I stopped focusing on wishing she were the mother I wanted her to be. I just started being the daughter I wanted to be. And that’s when everything changed.

I have so many regrets that I know she wouldn’t want me to have. If she were here, she would touch my face and say “Don’t cry, Col,” though I know she’d be crying with me. I’m so grateful she was able to hear me say “I love you” many times — even when she wasn’t able to say it back. I’m certain she heard it just days before she died when I told her on our video call that it was okay for her to let go, to find peace. I told her I love her and that she was a good mother. With her eyes closed, she lifted her arm and reached toward my voice.

Don’t waste any time. If there’s something you need to say, say it now. And let it be “I love you.”

It’s a cliche until it’s not.

I love you, Mom. You’re in my heart always. After all, you’re the one who made it.

FAQ

Each cooking class is fully interactive. While I am demonstrating, you can chime in with comments, questions, and ooohs and ahhhs the entire time. Not only does this increase connection among the students, both my assistant and I see your questions and make sure we answer all of them.
You can participate in the class using Zoom on your computer, tablet or mobile device.
Upon completing your registration, you receive your confirmation email, which includes the link to our Zoom class, along with information and recipes. Each class is officially a go once a minimum number of slots are filled — at which time the recipes appear on the document. My goal is to have the recipes available to you at least 5 days before the class to give you enough time to order / shop for ingredients, should you choose to cook along.
While I love to see the faces of my students, the use of video during the live class is optional. NOTE: Even if you opt to show your video, for the class recordings, which go out to the general public as on-demand classes, NO ONE'S video is shown except for mine.
We do our best to prepare you in advance so you are ready for when the class begins. If you have issues during the class, my assistant is there to help you. Sometimes it's an issue on the user side, and when there's an issue on my side, we do our best to mitigate it right away. One of the benefits of live classes is that they're in real time, which means it's a live feed. Sometimes technical issues are out of our control, but so far, we've never had any real issues that took away from the purpose of the class.
Absolutely! Unless something goes horribly wrong (and it rarely does), each class is recorded, and students receive the class recording within 2 days of the live class.
While I do send a reminder email out a couple days before our class, I encourage you to add the class to your calendar as soon as you register.
Some students love being able to cook along; some students love to just watch. It is entirely up to you how you want to enjoy the class.
You can decide in advance which dishes you want to cook along with. You might choose to cook along for just one of the dishes or all of them. Whatever you decide, I suggest you have your mise en place all ready. That is to say, have all the ingredients measured and prepped as much as possible. (Mise en place is a French culinary phrase meaning "everything in its place.”)
Ultimately, what we take away is based on what we give, so I encourage you to be present and engaged in the class. But, for my part, if you know me, you know I'm pretty passionate about many things, and I can’t help bringing my love of food, history, language, animals, film, literature, and food lore to each class. My aim is that you walk away with a richer understanding of food, cooking, and eating than before you arrived. More than that, you will get helpful step-by-step instructions about each dish I'm demonstrating and a clear up-close view of all the ingredients and procedures. The best part is that I, too, make mistakes, and you see me make them live in real time. That's how we learn the most.
I'm thrilled to say that many students are regulars and repeats, and you will no doubt get to know some fabulous people when you attend these classes. I encourage engagement and follow-up, including posting photos, questions, and comments on our private Facebook page. Many friends and family members join from different cities, then share a virtual meal with each other once the class is over. (That makes my heart sing.) So, yes, despite being online the classes foster connection.
I have found that 60 minutes is the ideal amount of time to spend in a virtual class. Sometimes we stick around a little longer to finish something up or to enjoy a bonus cocktail by our resident mixologist (my adorable husband), but we like to honor your time and keep the classes to 60 minutes. (Some special / holiday classes are scheduled for 90 minutes, but they’re the exception.) If we go over and you need to drop off, you can always view the video later.
Absolutely! Once you are registered and the class is a go, you are officially enrolled. That means the recipes, resources, video recording, and even the chat transcript are yours to enjoy. You will receive a follow-up email whether you are in the live class or not.
Because the value of the classes includes exclusive recipes and resources as well as the live class / video recording, once a class is officially a go and you get access to the recipes, you cannot be refunded. However, if the class does not meet the minimum sign-up threshold and I cancel the class, you have the option of getting a full refund or switching to a different class. (This is one of the reasons I don't share the recipes until I know we've reached the minimum threshold.)
After the live class is over and enjoyed by students in real time, each class gets converted into an on-demand class so that others may enjoy the recipes, resources, and video recording. Most live classes become on-demand classes within 2 days.
No animal products are ever used in my recipes, so yes, all the classes are vegan / plant-based, which means nothing that comes out of or off of an animal. I've written three cookbooks (The Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table, and Color Me Vegan), and two lifestyle books (Vegan’s Daily Companion and The 30-Day Vegan Challenge), which also include recipes. I'm also always testing and developing new recipes (as well as modifying and perfecting old ones) to make sure students get the best, clearest, easiest-to-follow recipes — qualities that have become trademark in my work.
While living compassionately and consciously is not about being perfect, and while some students may not have access to the same bulk stores and package-free ingredients as me, I make an effort in my classes to use (and promote) as little packaging and plastic as possible, which is why so many of my recipes and menus are for how to cook and bake homemade and from-scratch!
My classes span a huge range, and your suggestions are always welcome: *Different types of cuisines (Italian, Thai, Asian, Mexican, etc.) *Particular ways of cooking and eating (Quick & Easy, Oil-free, By Color/Phytochemicals, ) *Cooking with specific appliances (Air-Fryer, Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker / Crockpot, etc.) *Homemade from scratch (Seitan, Tempeh, Tofu, Miso, Nut Cheeses, Nut Butters, etc.) *Various holidays and seasons (Mother’s Day, Easter, Passover, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Summer, Fall, etc.) *Focused on meals (Packed Lunches, Breakfast, Brunch, Fancy Dinner, Quick Dinner, etc.) *Cooking with specific foods/ ingredients (Aquafaba, Beans, Spices & Herbs, Greens, Lentils, Grains, etc. *Baking from scratch (Pizza Dough, Breads, Pretzels, Bagels, and Biscuits, Cakes, Pies, Cobblers, etc.) *And everything in between.
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