LIFE'S SHORT, BE HAPPY
The picture above is from a birthday we celebrated together two years ago, while I was visiting my mom in Florida. Today she turned eighty eight years "young". This year I remained in New York during her birthday. The best I could do, was send her a special birthday card filled with much love and affection, and sing her the Happy Birthday song. This week as we approached her birthday, it was in some ways quite different.
The week started where my mom's caregiver Trudy, called around 8:30AM, to tell me that she called for an ambulance to take my mom to the hospital. She had cleared the decision with my brother Gil.
When she arrived she found Ruthie to be a little disoriented and complaining terribly about pain in her neck.
Trudy discovered that my mom had several bruises and black and blue marks on her arms, wrists and fingers. We all seemed to wonder what had happened to my mom, and since she could not tell us, we all assumed that she must have fallen down. The medics arrived and Ruthie was at least able to tell them her birth date and her name as take strapped her to a stretcher, and placed her in the ambulance.
Several hours later when I spoke to the emergency room doctor they were discharging my mom and sending her home. The doctor said that they ran many tests, took ex rays, MRI, urine, blood, and he was pleased to say that everything was normal. Yes in his world normal, and in ours, except for having Alzheimer's and macular degeneration mom was doing great as in"normal". Nothing appeared to be broken.
I spoke to everyone several times that day from the hospital and later when mom was back at home. The next two days, mom appeared to be so weak that she had trouble walking to the bathroom. We had her caregivers, who normally stay for twelve hours, sleep over with mom for several days. By day three mom was starting to bounce back. She was walking much better and the even started laughing and singing along with me as we practiced her birthday song.
What struck me the most with this week was the several comments my mom had made about life, and being alive. The day she came back home from the hospital, she was rambling on about things that made absolutely no sense. When I mentioned that she was in the hospital she said "no, I was never in the hospital." I thought that all the strange things she was describing, was in someway related to the nurses, the x ray machines, the fear of being in an ambulance, things that she was not able to remember. Yet as clear as day my mom in between speed talking, said to me, "life is short so you just need to remember to be happy". I hung up the phone, turned to my husband with amazement,
and thought how profound it was what my mom had just said .
The next day, somewhere in our conversation, mom said to me that she wanted to be alive. With a lightness in my voice, I told her that she was very alive, for who else was I speaking to. Finally on the day before her birthday, as we practiced singing her birthday song, she chirped in with, as we got to the end of "how old are you now, how old are you now"? my mom answered with "old enough to be alive, and thank god".
All these phrases she kept saying about life and living, only left me to wonder what my mom had felt was happening to her this week. Feelings that she can no longer share or express, for they just disappear from her memory. Feelings that seem to go unspoken . All the things she described to me, I truly believe for her, was a statement of wanting to live. Mom was not ready to die.
So mom, I toast you on your birthday, and as you just recently said to me, I will remember that "life is short, so we need to be happy". Yes my sweet loving mom , once again your words become wisdom to my ears. I just want to wish you a very Happy Birthday, and to let you know how very much I love and cherish you. I do not know how many more we will be able to celebrate together, yet for number eighty eight, it stays in my heart as a very special one.