Yesterday we celebrated mom's 93rd birthday. No big party this time; just a few friends/family coming and going. She had an absolute blast of a day. Not so much about doing her favorite things anymore or going to her favorite places. None of that matters. Only being with special people.
Yesterday the special people were her nephew, "Will-yum", now Bill to the world, and his wonderful wife Sandy. I kept it a surprise so when they came to pick her up, she was over the moon. My birthday treat for her (crashing on her sofa and having a spend-the-night party at her assisted living place) paled in comparison to seeing a favorite nephew. I am special, but I am also "old hat".
I should have had a pad and pencil handy throughout the day! After 90 most filters are gone and what comes out of the mouth is pure, unadulterated, in-the-moment personal truth. And, as is true for all of us, she's not so sure she'll see you tomorrow. Let's see, what can I remember?
- Mother: "William, do you give God thanks for where you are in life?" (because if you don't you are "fixing" to get a lecture)
- Bill: "I tell you what Aunt Frances. When I wake up every morning, that's the first thing I do, even before my feet hit the floor."
- Mother: Beaming, and doing a little fist punch of joy in the air, mother has now relegated him to sainthood for sure.
- Mother to me: "When you were born your daddy was traveling. When he got to the hospital, he gave me a hug, and then went over and picked up that tiny bundle over there", pointing to the other side of the room as if it was happening now. He just hugged you up close and told you something. I didn't hear him but I think he said, 'Hey. I'm your daddy.' And you had the best daddy in the world." Yes, I did.
- Mother: "I just don't understand why God didn't let Marion or Dot, (her deceased sisters-in-law), stay around longer to be my buddy. Looks like he would have left one of them."
- Mother to me, her money manager: "Am I still giving money to the church?" Me. "Some. Not as much as you once were." Mother giving me one of those looks: "Don't ever forget. You can't outgive God." And truer words have never been spoken.
- Mother's favorite birthday gift wasn't the painting, the chocolates, or the flowers. What she loved most was a new paperback world atlas I gave her. I knew she would. That is so my mother.
And the pink scarf from Gwen
- Another favorite gift was the pound cake my sister made from an old family recipe and served on mother's old cake plate she had used a million times. The cake had the "streak" and everything. The old cake cover had dents and everything. "Use a sharp knife", she says. "That one just saws it off." (Oops, no sharp knives in assisted living.)
Mother to my sister: "I need to go shopping and see what's on the racks."
I think the reason this day was so precious to me was the journey we took to get to this happy place. It was a long one but I know that mother is as happy as she can be, well cared for, reading books, and talking about going shopping. That's just a big wow.
Oh yeah, and her toe nails are painted in silver glitter. Really. Way to go, Shirley.
Every day is a gift......And I will also remember the journey is only the journey. It is not the end.