Today is Mom's birthday. But she's not here. For the first time ever. Not here on this earth. I began preparing myself a couple of days ago, wondering what I might feel and think about on her birthday.
Mom died last October after a great struggle with dementia. At the end, this smart and beautiful woman could not get out a coherent sentence. Or when she did, it was about other worlds, other times, and with connections unfamiliar to us. She was not quite the same Mom.
I called Dad this morning to say I was thinking about Mom's birthday and that I was thinking about him. He said little, but asked again about the exact day I am flying to Seattle. "August 29," I said.
"That's right," he answered. I know he is bored and lonely, the highest functioning tenant in this adult family home for folks with dementia and Alzheimer's. But his caregivers are loving and he likes them and is settled. What must be going through his mind today? Everyday?
Seven summers ago on August 10, I took Mom and Dad for a birthday lunch in Magnolia. And right after lunch I drove to the hospital where Jeanne was in labor for her first baby. Kelan was born later that afternoon. Mom and Kelan share a birth date. It was a very big day.
Today, I spent hours driving myself nuts with errands and emails and folding laundry and watering the garden and getting two new tires and packing for tomorrow's trip to New York. I wondered by mid-afternoon if I was doing all this stuff so I couldn't feel a thing. As soon as this thought ran through my head, I cried. Guess it's true.
Yes, I keep myself really busy every day and fret about politics and global warming. I'd better take a little time, perhaps a lot of time, to remember. Mom was very strong and capable and talented, and yet somehow vulnerable at the same time. She made us who we are today. I hate what time and dementia did to her. As my sister Kate says, she was gone before she was gone. Well, my throat is heavy and tears could fall. And so I am writing this, keeping busy.