'She's a bit vague." Add a posh English accent, and you've got my mother-in-law's introduction to her mother. It may have been helpful had no euphemisms been used as it seems that I'm a bit dense. My "grandmother-in-law" (a sweet old German lady who wouldn't hurt a fly) and I had a long conversation at our first meeting. It was a tad repetitive, but what does repetitive mean to a self-consumed bride, especially if the repetition came in the form of questions regarding my upcoming wedding? Our next meeting was at the wedding itself, when I went to wish her mazal tov. She took the time to inform me that her grandson was to be married today, to a loud American. "I know," I said with a sweet, don't-mess-with-me laugh. "He is going to marry me." With speed and accuracy, the retort hit me on my tiara-clad head. "No, he is not going to marry you. The girl is much prettier than you." At that point she walked away, leaving me stranded in the middle of the smorgasbord, decked in my overpriced meringue, wondering if one of my childhood nightmares had come to fruition. Months after our wedding, the cat was out of the bag. The nice old lady was not "vague" or "off on a holiday," though for the remainder of her life she believed she was vacationing at the New Ambassador Hotel in Bournemouth, and not in an old-age home. My husband's grandmother was suffering from advanced Alzheimer's and though her sharp wit hadn't been affected by the cruel disease, her short-term memory was gone. But the biggest loss was felt by the family who wanted to share their lives with her. Dr. James Joseph has spent the last 10 years studying how the types of food we eat can affect the extent to which "free radicals" wreak havoc on our organs. In one of those great documentaries on Channel 8, an English filmmaker chose two groups of active over-60s in different countries, and gave them each the difficult task of eating one cup of berries every day for six months. The result: a 10 percent increase in the group members' ability to retrieve short-term memories. The theory being tested was that the antioxidants in berries and most other purple fruit and vegetables protect against the free radicals that may be attacking our fragile brain connections. Before you run out and buy a truckful of berries, keep in mind that the antioxidant-berry connection is a slim one and not yet fully proven. Plus, with the approach of Yom Kippur I think a perfect memory would be unpardonable. If I could actually remember all the times during the course of the last year I had done bad, I wouldn't even bother with repentance. I would just walk my sorry self straight to God's representatives and tell them to throw the book at me. That is another good reason not to keep a journal of daily events. Who wants proof in later years of their wrongdoings? It's like confessing to the crimes prior to being convicted. When I do stand in shul repenting, it's for minor misdemeanors and for society's overall wrongs and I find my memory fails me just at the right time. As Yom Kippur closes and the shofar sounds, I feel my soul has been cleansed of a crime no bigger than a parking violation, and absolutely nothing as serious as a speeding violation. As I wax lyrical over the necessity for an imperfect memory, I know that my cynical observations have already come back to haunt me. This week, as I walked into the local coffee shop with my daughter, a really good-looking man said hello to me, and I don't just mean good-looking in that pale Jewish sort of way. I mean indisputably handsome or, as my sister-in-law would call such a specimen, genuine talent. As he smiled at me, my first reaction was to look behind me to see who he was saying hello to. It has happened more times than I care to remember that the good-looking guy was waving at his good-looking counterpart behind me, and - like the ambivalent dunce I can be - that I waved and smiled back and nearly did a touchdown dance, at having earned a wave. I have since learned my lesson. No one was behind me but, still confused, I gave my weak "I'm sure you're a nice person but you couldn't possibly want to talk to me" smile and proceeded right past him to order my coffee. It took me a full 10 minutes to realize that I did know this fine specimen. I had just met him a few weeks before at a friend's house for lunch. In fact, he is one of my husband's childhood friends. At this point I'm thinking: Slather me in berries, bury me in them, keep 'em coming, give me a good memory! Anything! Even hellfire, as long as I don't keep on embarrassing myself in Aroma. It was either eating berries or permanently giving up ice coffee - and we all know what choice was to be made. My husband's grandmother was a sweet woman who lived a fascinating life. We missed her long before she was gone. Perhaps a cup of berries a day will keep the brain doctor away. And even if it doesn't work, it wasn't too difficult to try.

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