Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday I celebrated a birthday - an event that I don't take for granted at all.  I am thankful for the opportunity to add another year to the count, and I pray that God sees fit to give me many more.

I had a very quiet day, for the most part, save a few tense moments at my mom's assisted living center, when I had to go head to head with a staff member about a situation with her care, but other than that, it was really a "me" kind of day -filled with rest, relaxation, and research, as well as a soothing bubble bath! :)  I did nothing special, and even ate leftovers for dinner.  I ended my day with an unsuccessful outing to one of my favorite clothing stores, only to arrive and find it completely bare with a note on the door stating that they were closed for remodeling and would reopen in March.  (That's how my luck  So, as a consolaton prize, I decided to go and piddle around in Barnes and Noble for a while.  There, I relaxed with copies of, "The Washingtons of Wessington Plantation", "100 Years of Lynchings", and of a Hawaii travel guide (for my upcoming trip).  After perusing these materials to my satisfaction, I returned home and delved back into my favorite pasttime.  (I'm sure everyone reading this knows what that is.) 

All day long, I received calls from friends who wanted to wish me a happy day, and of course with each call came the inevitable question, "What are you doing to celebrate?"  Very few seemed to believe that I was as content as I sounded to just be doing what they considered to be... NOTHING.  But I was.  And, although I will admit that in previous years of celebrating alone, I've occasionally (not often) given myself a pity party, this was not one of those years.  Why?  Because this year I got a very special gift on my Birthday-Eve - one that surprised me and changed my entire perspective on everything.  My mother remembered my birthday!

Now, to some, this won't seem like a big deal, but I know that there are many of you who completely understand.  You see, my mother, a once vibrant, professional woman, has been a victim of a dulling of her intellect and memory, which, I believe, has been brought on more by lack of engagement and stimulation than anything else.  She has not been diagnosed with Alzheimers, but instead, has a movement disorder that in some ways mimics Parkinsons, but isn't quite that either.  My mother's intellect is still mostly intact, though dimished in some areas, but she knows everyone, remembers pretty much everything about her life, and can hold a good, lucid conversation most of the time.  However, there are other times - which are becoming more frequent now - when her brain seems to go to sleep, and she can't get her thoughts together or her words out right.  At those times, her comprehension seems effected, and someone who didn't know better would think she did indeed have the big "A".  Last year, on the anniversary of my birth, she was experiencing one of those phases, and for the first time in my life, my mother didn't know it was my birthday, and even when I explained it to her, she gave no emotional response.  So, Friday night, when I was talking to her on the phone, I told her that it was January 15th. When I asked her if she knew what the next day was, her response, "It's your birthday!" was the absolute most-bestest gift I could have gotten!  As our conversation went on, she asked me all of the appropriate questions: Was I doing anything special?  Were my daughters doing anything for me?  Had I heard from them?  I answered all of these questions and told her I'd see her the next day.  We talked about a few other things, and before we hung up, she remembered to tell me to have a happy birthday.

Perhaps now that I've opened the door, I'll begin to talk more about my mother's very unusual and frustrating health situation, which has been ongoing for over a decade, but for now, I just wanted to share this great gift that she gave me.  I did spend time with my mom yesterday, and thanked her for having me 48 years ago.  I even asked her to tell me a bit about my birth, which she did - but just a little.  She did repeat several times though that everyone kept looking at me in the baby bed and saying what a pretty baby I was, and each time she said it, she got a sweet smile on her face, as she remembered.

Today, on Sentimental Sunday, I'm sharing a picture of my mother that I just love for some reason.  I never saw this picture until about a year ago, when I was going through some of her old files.  The picture is a souvenier photo that was taken at Jack Dempsey's restaurant on Broadway in New York City.  My mother, who was a student at Hampton Institute at the time, was on trip to New York with her college beau, "Jimmy".  I have cropped him out because I don't know him, so I feel the need to respect his privacy.

Mary Anne and Jimmy, sometime between 1952-1955

Thanks for reading.  It's been an emotional few days.  Please continue in prayer for the people of Haiti.



Luckie said...

Well Sister, as you know, I am one of those who completely understands what a gift Mom remembering your birthday is!:-)

I am so happy you had a peaceful (for the most part!:-) kinda day & wish you many, many more.

Not quite Parkinson's? Hmmm... Dystonia maybe?

Have fun in Hawaii & hope to see you in Savannah!:-)


P.S. you never know who else might be calling!!!

Luckie said...

P.S. I can see why you love the picture Ren... it's beautiful & she looks happy!

Hugs to you cause I know you could use one just about now!:-)


Renate said...

Thanks, Luckie. No to the Dystonia. Mom doesn't have any jerky movements or tremors. Believe me, we've been through all of the possibilities. More later (maybe).


Sandra Taliaferro said...


Very nice post! Having lost my mother last year on my birthday, I can understand the joy you felt at your mother remembering that it was your birthday; what a special gift. The photo of your mom is beautiful! Wishing you many more birthdays!!


Joan said...

A tender, loving post, that you gave to all of us to celebrate your birthday. Thank you, and Happy Birthday to you.

A wonderful picture of your mom. What a beauty.

Mavis said...

Happy Birthday Renate!

Could it be one of her meds, if she's on any. I know daddy has Parkinson like symptoms that are caused by his meds.

Renate said...

No, Mav, but thanks. Believe me, we've been through it all...

Thanks, San and Joan. :)


Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

Happy birthday! What a touching post and beautiful gift you've received.

Irish Mason said...

You were kind enough to leave a comment on my "Portals to the Past" blog about my stepmother. I clicked on your info and discovered you're in Newport News and got really excited! We were stationed at Langley for 7 years. We got back yearly. LOVE Virginia! LOVE the Peninsula! That out of the way ... I cried reading your lovely post about your mother. What a precious gift! Some gifts are priceless! Thank you for sharing! I hope you continue to share the ups and downs of dealing with the illness. Many will relate and hopefully it will bring comfort and support to them and you as well. Bless you! Happy Belated Birthday!

Renate said...

Thanks, Irish. (And what a neat name!) It's nice to hear from someone who knows where I'm coming I hope you'll continue to follow my blog. :)