MOM, DO YOU REMEMBER MY BIRTHDAY ?
My vacation started the week that I would also be celebrating my birthday. As usual I phoned my mom each day to say hello and see how she was doing. I can always tell from the sound of her voice and how she responds to me, what her state of mind is.
This week was not one of her better ones. She was confused about most of the things that I spoke about. She mentioned that she still lived in New York, which was her home twenty five years ago. Mom no longer knows when I was born or how old I am ,which is not necessarily a bad thing.
When I whispered my age, she was able to make a joke and tell me that I was catching up to her. With that we both giggled like teenage girls.
My mom asked me to please remind her again, the day of my birthday. She was concerned that she would not remember. I reassured her that I will absolutely let her know as she serenaded me with "Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you". As she got to the verse to say my name, mom said "you, you". When she finished singing I said, "mom who is you, you"? Sounding a little embarrassed she said "its you and I just forgot your name ,although it is on the tip of my tongue". "Mom here is a hint for you, my name starts with the letter L". She shouted out, "Lisa" sounding so proud of herself.
On the day of my birthday, I reminded my mom, and she then sang again to me. This time she got it correct and added in Lisa, as she reached that part of the lyrics. I excitedly thanked her for bringing me into the world and she responded with "how did I bring you into the world"? "Mom, you gave birth to me", which she seemed confused and not able to comprehend. Since my dad passed away seventeen years ago, I now do not have a parent who can truly celebrate bringing me into this world.
As I hung up the phone I realized that my mood had shifted. I was feeling a pang in my heart for my mom and maybe also for me. My mind started racing and thinking about people who have cancer and what they perhaps need to go through. Chemo and or radiation therapy. I hear how sick this can make them feel. Yet, I also thought of how Alzheimer's disease can remove someones entire existence, their entire life, as if it never happened. I wondered to myself which disease was better or worse, if given the choice.
I needed to get my mind away from this and back into enjoying our vacation. As we were driving into the sunset I was then able to shake off these feelings. We started climbing the winding roads and through the mountains in the Berkshires , being very close to the borders of Vermont. I was able to appreciate all the beauty that was right there before my eyes, and feel refreshed by the breeze of the fresh country air. I felt once again alive, and so thankful for all the wonderful things that I have in my life . Things that on some days we can all take for granted.
My mom in a few days seemed to bounce back again, and for this and the time we still have together I cherish and celebrate all the love and affection that we can share. She may not remember the day I was born ,or the very first time when she held me in her arms, yet I can still feel all the love that she has for me and all the love I have for her.