Happy Birthday: Pt. ll


I decided on a ‘Sweet tooth’ theme for mom’s birthday.

I ordered rum balls from “Sweet Mama’s”, a tasty Tulsa, Oklahoma bakery that shipped in time for the big day. I placed them on a hand-blown glass cloche that was part of her ‘sweet tooth’ themed gift, it’s not only pretty, it’s perfect for the occasional apple pies and “sock it to me” pudding cakes that Miss Cathy likes (and I try to buy in moderation because of her diabetes).

I put a bow on the glass ball top of the cloche, walked Miss Cathy into the kitchen with her eyes closed and when she opened them-voila, a sweet birthday surprise!

A lady should never tell her age but I’m no lady so I’ll just put it out there that mom is seventy-five years old.

Seventy-five isn’t that old really, not these days, especially if you factor in that ‘sixty’ is the new ‘fifty’ (at least according to pop culture), people are working long past seventy (by choice or economic necessity) and doing all sorts of amazing things mentally and physically so by all accounts mom should still be a ‘vital’ person, and she would be, probably, if Alzheimer’s hadn’t stepped in to rob her of her ‘essence’.

Miss Cathy’s’ self-assurance has been replaced by a halting, questioning fragility and a begrudging reliance on me to help her with things that used to be second nature for her.

Life is becoming harder for her to navigate day to day and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for her to trust herself to either ‘remember’ or ‘to do’ the things she wants as Alzheimer’s continues to take a toll on her confidence and independence.

She still struggles to make peace with her diagnosis but as her condition becomes less subtle and more overt even she can’t deny that something is wrong.

With the help of her new neurologist she seems more accepting and she just might be ready to take some steps away from denial toward participating in her own care and maintenance, maybe….hopefully.

That is my birthday wish for her anyway.

She was touched by the gift and the gesture. She gave me a kiss and a hug then I was off to catch a train for New York where I’ve been teaching a summer program at LIM College this month and part of next.

I’m gone for most of the week and back at the weekend, my brother staying with mom while I’m away.

I can’t believe that another year has passed so quickly. The first week of August marks my third year as a caregiver.

So much has changed and there is still so much ahead that is unknown.

But, celebrating the day of her birth (however briefly) I could see that she was happy and present for the gifts she received and that’s enough, more than enough….. for today anyway.

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