Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom

My mom's birthday would be today, if she were still alive. She would be 86. I am currently 46, born in February, and that same year I was born, in November, my mom turned 40. I was a surprise baby, born nearly 9 years after my last brother. She thought I was the flu, and when she finally went to the dr, apparently he kidded her that she, as a nurse, should have known better, especially after having been pregnant three other times. I love that story. I also like the fact that I know my mother's real birthday is November 17th, even though her birth certificate says it is the 18th. 86 years ago, most babies were born at home, as she was. It was late in the evening when she finally came into the world, and as it was storming, the doctor who delivered her waited until morning to go back to his office. When he did, he recorded her birth as the 18th, even though my grandmother said my mom was DEFINITELY born before midnight on the 17th. For some reason, as a child, I found that story fascinating, and always tried to celebrate my mom's birthday with her on the 17th. She didn't care either way.
My mom died four and a half years ago, in a nursing home a few miles from me, of Alzheimers. I was there that night, and held her hand as she went. I don't know what she really died of - pneumonia? I honestly can't remember. She broke her hip in January of that year, her second broken hip, and I remember the very, very kind hospital doctor coming in to talk to us, to me, as I was sitting there with her in the hospital, and telling me that it really didn't matter if we didn't have surgery to repair the hip (her health really wouldn't have supported a surgery at that time, so it wasn't much of an option, which bothered us) because with a patient of her age, and with her medical conditions, a broken hip was really the beginning of the end, and he would give her no more than 6 months. That might have seemed cruel,but it wasn't. It was a reassurance that we were doing the best thing for her by not having surgery, by just keeping her comfortable and medicated, and it gave me a time line within which to begin saying goodbye. In actuality, I had already begun saying that long before. My mom had had Alzheimers long enough that to me, she was no longer my "mom." She was always, right to the end, a beautiful person I loved, and took care of, but the "mom" who had loved me, and taken care of me, and loved my children, the "mom" who had given me advice, helped me, listened to me, that "mom" had been gone for many years.But having someone tell you that the misery that had robbed my mom's mind, and so much of her strength (she had diabetes, had had several heart attacks and strokes and open heart surgery, had broken her collar bone, her hip twice, etc.)would soon be over for her, was a relief, actually. I was not sad to see my mom die.It was a blessing, at long last. Her life, for at least the year previous to her death, was just not good, and it was hard to watch someone you love, just exist. It was hard to watch what not having my mom at home did to my father on a daily basis. So her passing away was, at long last, a relief. I didn't cry much. I didn't really even feel terribly sad for very long. I have not spent a lot of time feeling sad, or really even missing my mom a lot in the past few years. Really, it has been more like the past 16 years that she has been "gone," so it's hard to feel like it's only been a couple of years. I've gone through all the feelings of "this isn't fair" and the anger, and all the other emotions when we first began to realize things were not right with her. I've "been there, done that" and don't need to anymore. What I have left of my mom now are the random good, and funny, memories, mostly. Like the fact that my mom was many, many things I aspire to be, but a good cook was not one of them? Fishsticks. Box potatoes, or, real-but-lumpy-watery greyish potatoes. Buttered beets, stewed tomatoes, liver and onions on Monday nights when my dad was at Rotary. Ugh. Looking back at my childhood, wonderful wonderful meals was definitely NOT a part of it. Thankfully, it WAS a huge part of my husband's childhood, as both his mom and his two aunts are fantastic cooks, and he inherited both the love of cooking and the ability, and has passed much of that on to me,so my own kids should grow up with a warm and fuzzy view of the food that filled THEIR childhoods. (As long as they forget the fishsticks and tator tots I fed them when they were little and I didn't know any better. But only on the nights when their dad was at Lions Club.)
I do miss my mom. Some times of the year are harder than others. I miss her on my birthday. I especially miss her at Christmas time. And there are always days, moment, when for some reason, or no reason at all, I just miss her really hard.I guess that will always be true of anyone you love, and lose.
I don't remember the date of her death, but I will never forget the day of her birth. Or date. Happy Birthday, mom. I love you still.


denise said...

my mom died this past september after a very short illness. my birthday is tomorrow and i have dreaded it for weeks because i know it's going to be rough. i had never told anyone because it seemed odd that i would miss her on my birthday when hers was october 1 and i never shed a tear. your comment about missing her on your birthday made me realize that i'm not entirely weird. thank you.

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry about your mom. truly i am. i am very sensitive to people without moms anymore. i'm sorry you have to go through your birthday tomorrow without her. i will be thinking of you, and hope your day is special, somehow, anyway.


Meg said...

I love this - I love reading about your memories of "grandma" in a different role - mom! I love hearing about her cooking disasters, because she always seemed like she was meant for other duties and callings beside the kitchen! So many other people and things to attend to! I miss her, too.

rdk said...

I'm grateful to have found Ms. dog hair and her blog-friends. I'm too teary to type more right now... but I share many experiences and feelings with you all. Glad I'm not just some nut;/ . Becky