Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Izzy's Deli

Emerging from the dentist's office at 3 pm after three hours of medical ordeals, Mom needed both food and rest.
Any sane person would have taken her back to her residence or put her in the car and headed to some sort of fast food, but I turned her wheelchair into the crisp wind and pushed her one block to Izzy's Deli.
"It's too cold! You're trying to kill me!" she cried.
"Well, do you want French fries or not?" I asked impatiently.
"I want them," she answered.
"Okay then," I said, gritting my teeth.
"It's a green light," she said as we waited for traffic at Wilshire Blvd.
True, the direction she was turned had a green light, but the direction we needed to go was red.
At an intersection it's impossible to face a wheelchair in the direction you actually intend to walk because the downramps are placed at the point of the corner as if you were going to walk in an X pattern from one corner to the opposite corner.
The best you can do is:
1) Keep the wheelchair poised facing in a direction you don't actually intend to go.
2) Then swoop down the ramp when the light changes.
3) Once at pavement level quickly turn the chair into the actual crosswalk you intend to use.
This can be a little confusing for a dementia patient, especially one who likes to be in control and tell you where and when to push the chair.
Once we crossed the four-lane street, the front doors of Izzy's Deli shone like a stream of light breaking through an overcast sky.
"Come all ye who labor and are heavy laden," the plush booths and graciously welcoming tables seemed to be saying.
After pushing Mom up to one table, I sank into a soft vinyl bench.
Soon we each had a mug of hot tea diluted with six or so packets of non-dairy creamer.
We ordered and soon a turkey sandwich appeared for her along with a Reuben sandwich for me, each accompanied by a mountain of French fries and a bowl of coleslaw.
Mom did not fall asleep. She stirred her tea with her spoon, repeatedly lifted the heavy black mug with the words Izzy's ~ Deli to the Stars, and somehow got it back on the table, never spilling it. Several times she squeezed the chunk of lemon with determination, curdling the cream in her tea.
She attacked the sandwich with her fingers, putting slices of turkey in her mouth, then bread, then lettuce and more turkey. She managed to get most of the coleslaw onto her fork and into her mouth. She relished the dill pickle and the fries.
We ate in relieved silence, surrounded by the friendly noise of other conversations and the clink of things in the kitchen.
Soothing music played: "Dream a little dream of me..." and "Just call me angel of the morning, baby...."
Angel of the afternoon was the kind Latino waiter.
Above the tables were two enormous candelabra, each with twenty candle-like bulbs.
It was altogether heavenly, the best $30 I ever spent.
At 4:15 I was waiting for her to be finished, but she was using her spoon to lift a four-inch pickle, dripping with the coleslaw sauce, to her mouth. Then she drank some more tea.
"A good lunch, wasn't it!" I commented.
"Yeah, it was real good," she answered.
At about 4:30 we tipped $6 and wheeled back to her residence in the cold wind.
Not a bad ending for a day that could have ended with hospitalization.

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