My mom turned 86 on June 9, or June 10, depending on who you ask. Growing up, she celebrated on June 9, which was the day her parents told her she was born. At age 16, she got a copy of her birth certificate so that she could apply for a social security card and a part time job… and the birth certificate said June 10. Her mother maintained that the doctor had written it down wrong and June 9 was her real birthday, so that’s the day she celebrates. But we’ve always had to remember to say “June 10, 1928” when asked for anything official.
So, on Monday, June 9 I picked up a strawberry swirl cheesecake that she could share with all the ladies at the house and brought it over after dinner, along with a card. We put a candle on her piece and all sang Happy Birthday to her. Mom sang along, singing “Happy birthday to me” and gesturing toward herself every time she said got to “me” or her name in the song. I can’t remember the last time I saw her be silly like that. I explained that her gift would come later because my siblings and I were all going in together on something special and we haven’t quite got it figured out yet. She said that was fine, that having everything on the actual birthday only matters when you’re a kid.
Here’s Mom and me in a birthday selfie.
The owner of the facility brought over Happy Birthday balloons in the morning on June 9. At my request, so that my cheesecake wouldn’t seem like an afterthought, she saved their little party for Mom’s birthday until the 10th. They had a special lunch (spaghetti and meatballs) with a birthday cake and candles and sang to her again.
I felt a little badly that our celebration together was so… small. In the past, I would have suggested taking her out to a nice restaurant or something. But we go out to eat once or twice a week, so another trip to the local diner didn’t seem like anything special – and I can’t take her to a fancy place now, not when you never know when she’s going to pop out her dentures at the table or display some other odd behavior. I wish I could even bring her to my apartment for a homemade meal. That was one of the things that I’d especially looked forward to doing once she lived close by. But she couldn’t manage the seven steps into my apartment building now, so unless/until I move to a place without stairs that’s not gonna happen.
Today I picked her up in the late afternoon for a follow-up appointment with the pulmonologist, who said that her lungs sounded great and agreed that there is no further need for oxygen. He wrote that on a prescription pad, so I can send back all the home oxygen equipment we’ve been paying to rent since April. Yay!
At the doctor’s office, she asked what day it was. When I told her, she said “I missed my birthday.”
“No, you didn’t,” I said. “We had cheesecake and sang Happy Birthday to you.”
She shook her head, impatient with herself for not remembering. “Who was there?”
“Just me and the ladies that you live with. The next day at lunch time, the ladies at the house had another birthday cake for you – but I wasn’t there for that because I had to work.”
She started telling the nurse the story of why she has two birthdays, and nothing more was said about it. But I realized it was silly of me to regret not doing more. She wouldn’t have remembered it anyway.