Today is my mother’s birthday. I never forget. How could I?
She loved birthdays – perhaps even more than Christmas – and that was a lot! Just like a child, she’d be so excited! On the morning of her birthday, she’d wake up early, get all cleaned up, don something special and then she’d sit down with a pot of coffee or iced tea and wait for her big day to unfold.
And it always unfolded in a way she enjoyed. Not one person who knew my mother would have disappointed her on her birthday. Why, it would have been like disappointing a six-year old!
When my dad was living, he always lavished her with gifts, chocolates and flowers – and he usually took her out to dinner at a nice restaurant.
Since I was an only child, my children were her only grandchildren. I taught them early that their grandmother’s birthday was a very special occasion and they never forgot. She adored them and they her.
She lived 85 years, and right up until her last birthday, just a month before she died, we made a big deal of "her" day.
She was in a Rehab Center. I took cupcakes, ice cream and soft drinks, and, with a little help, was able to serve it to her, several of her grandchildren, and a special friend. She had a lot of presents to open and, like a child, she was so excited she had trouble getting them opened without help.
I’ll never forget the look on her face as she sat up in bed surrounded by colorful ribbons and paper and gifts. A four year old couldn’t have looked any more pleased than my mother did at that moment. Yet, knowing this was almost certainly her last birthday made it a bittersweet occasion. I excused myself long enough to go to the restroom and wipe away tears I was unable to hold back.
Four weeks later, she passed away, without ever enjoying any of her new gifts.
This is one of those memories that delivers pleasure and sadness at the same time. Remembering how she looked on her birthday brings a smile to my lips, but realizing I'll never see her like that again quickly takes it away.
Like love and hate, pleasure and pain seem very close sometimes.