Monday, December 5, 2011

a birthday

Happy Birthday Mom.

Her neighbors and staff celebrated her birthday at breakfast.  There were cards, singing, a corsage, and some cat-themed gifts. Everyone knows Mom loves her cat!

The staff knew that I was taking Mom out for lunch, and that we were meeting up with her girlfriends from the Birthday Lunch group.

How old are you? Is a usual question at a birthday party. But for Mom, she has no idea how old she is, and she doesn't want to accept 76 as the answer. One of Mom's friends in the Birthday Lunch group was adamant that Mom acknowledge that she was 76 years old. I wanted to smack this woman. Mom just doesn't understand, and you can't make her understand.

The lunch out was nice, the conversation flowed about friends gone and friends that are away. Mom was quiet for the most of it. Could she have put a name to each of these dear old friends, gathered around the table, celebrating, laughing, joking, as they have done monthly for the past twelve years? No, I don't think so. I think even the ability to recognize some of them as "dear old friends" had escaped her.

Mid-way through lunch Mom had a mini-tantrum, the onion rings were bothering her, she wanted them off her plate. Easy enough to remove them from her sight.

After lunch we all returned to Mom's place for birthday cake and conversation. I had baked Mom's favorite carrot-cake, one of those famous family recipes. She didn't want cake! She doesn't like cake! She always has a cookie and milk for her dessert and that is what she wanted! The staff all smiled and nodded, they were prepared with Mom's cookie. I fed them cake. I cut pieces for Mom's neighbors and the ladies from the Birthday Group. 

Two of the women from the staff sang a beautiful song to Mom. A song that made me fill up and cry. I had to walk away, to scream silently in the hallway, to howl.

After all the activities today, she can't hold onto the idea that today is her birthday, all the goings-on are for her, we are all there for her, for her special day. Lunch and cake have been too much for her. She is tired, she is lost, she is spent. I still don't think she comprehends that it was her birthday. Cake + flowers + cards + balloons + gifts + singing = ??


Debbie's Garden said...

Like the birthday for a 2 year old. I compare my Mom to my Granddaughter who will be 3 in February. But my Granddaughter is passing Mom up. Stupid, Frickin Alzheimers.

Mary said...

I’m sorry you have to watch your mother endure this dreadful disease. Each new discovery is shocking isn’t it? For an Alzheimer’s patient crowds are nightmares. It is difficult, and often impossible, for them to process what one person is saying/doing. Each additional person makes it exponentially harder. As caregivers we sometimes want desperately for things to be normal. But we have to accept that they are not ever going to be so again, and to adjust to a new normal – one that relies heavily on routine and calm. A useful resource: Understanding the Dementia Experience