Today is mom’s 84th birthday. Last week I told her we’d gather for dinner on her birthday, and called to remind her last night. She was excited but surprised when most of the local family members were in attendance. A sweet side-note is that the community took her and her buddies out for lunch today. The entire restaurant sang her ‘happy birthday!’
As usual, my apprehension over the gathering was totally over blown. There is safety in numbers, and mom did well.
My husband and I took our grandson up with us to mom’s apartment to bring her down for dinner. She is charmed by her great grandson. My DH and I spent a moment and placed a 2X4 under each side of her couch to raise it up a tad. Mom has been on and off about raising the couch up, which it was in the Island house. She asks about it and then forgets, and then remember again 3 months later. The story shifts around. This time she needed clean bricks to lift the couch. I found the 2X4s my DH cut during the last round of couch raising conversation, and mom was delighted to have them deployed. I am thankful this topic is handled and that mom is happy.
We traversed some potentially triggering topics at dinner, such as answering mom’s questions about where Jane was living now. My nurse girlie answered honestly (memory care community), and then smoothly moved the conversation into how well her other grandma was doing, including making what sounds like a good friend. Mom’s empathy is still shining through. She didn’t (as I was worried about) reflect my daughter’s answers back onto her own situation. She’s likely beyond being able to do so, but I’m never going to make that assumption!
Mom enjoyed her gifts: A book on Elvis quilts (based on an exhibit I saw in Houston in November), a book of 365 very interesting historical facts (that several folks, mom included, read pieces of out loud), a lovely lotion, and lots of chocolate treats. Mom asked me when I was going to make an Elvis quilt. I told her ‘just as soon as I finished up a few projects, and then well collaborate.’
Dinner was the best meal I’ve had at the community, ever. I brought a truffle/fudge/chocolate confection for dessert. Mom enjoyed her candles, and our song. Nurse-girlie’s sweetheart, who was unable to attend, sent instructions that mom was to wipe her finger through her name on her cake. It’s an Italian tradition that is believed to predict health and long-life for the birthday person. Mom was game!
We hung out in the private dining room, while our grandson zipped around, and chatted for a spell. It was time to let the staff clean up, and for us to head out. Mom asked me if we were coming up to her apartment. I said I needed to talk to my youngest, as we’d driven together, and our grandson might need to get to bed. I took a few steps to my daughter, asked her “Do you need to get going,?” and under my breath said to her, “Say Yes!” I wanted the evening to end on a positive note. There was no guarantee that conversation, should we go up to the apartment, would not devolve into the ‘going back to the Island’ loop. We all paused for a time in the grand living room to say good nights, and have a big round of hugs. It was hard to see mom walking toward the elevator by herself as we waited for ours. I wish it were easier. Not to let her walk to her apartment alone, but to confidently spent time with her. I have to remind myself that mom remembers how she feels, not that she walked to her apartment alone. She had a good birthday. She is valued and loved, and it showed in her expressions.