Friday, January 20, 2012

A Gift From Me, To You, For Mom

Tomorrow is Mom's birthday. She'll be 59. Last month, we crossed the 5-year mark since her Alzheimer's diagnosis (dare I call it an anniversary?). We told her last weekend we wanted to celebrate her birthday together, and she seemed surprised. We assured we would remember her birthday even if she can't.

Celebrations are tricky things, these days. Wintertime has always been a string of parties for my family, with a December birthday, Christmas, New Years, and then three January birthdays, including Mom's. But this year we're all off kilter.

My December-born brother took a trip and celebrated by traveling solo. Mom was released from the hospital the week before Christmas, and couldn't leave the nursing home. That hurt so, so much (when we distributed gifts from under the tree, hers got set aside without a word. No one could comment, it was too hard). She didn't attend my January-born brother's birthday get together, and she won't attend my sister's birthday party next week. She's still pretty unsteady on her feet, and I'm afraid it would be too much chaos for her. I don't want her to feel overwhelmed or overlooked.

It sucks. Friends, it's hard to explain how much it sucks.

We're all wondering how Mom's birthday party is going to work in a nursing home. One of her sweet nurses told us the dining room is going to provide us with a platter of cheese and crackers. She seemed eager to decorate for us (we'll use the common room in Mom's wing), but then confessed, "We only have one birthday banner. And it's pirate themed." I don't think Mom will mind.

I haven't bought any gifts. The walls of her little shared room are almost completely covered with family artwork, photo-calenders, love notes, and art prints. She could use some new clothes, but I know they'll eventually disappear into the mysterious laundry system, so I'm not motivated to spend very much on outfits. For the past several birthdays, I bought her things that were sensory: soft blankets, aromatherapy, socks, pillows. But now I'm afraid they'll just clutter her room.

Today I had a brainstorm. I'm going to make a gift in her honor, and give it to one of you. Check back tomorrow for a birthday giveaway.

Having this blog has helped me process so many things. I don't know how many people read it, or if it even registers on anyone's radar as being meaningful, but it has been a life line to me. What better way to express my appreciation than with a gift? From me and Mom.

It's something she would do.

Mom and Roxy, the nursing home kitty


  1. My heart goes out to you and your family, Emily. What a beautiful thought, doing a gift in your mom's honor. I'm so glad our mutual friends directed me to your blog. (YES, your work absolutely counts as being meaningful. Thank you for sharing.)

  2. Yes!! I just went through this with my Mom in Dec. She had no idea what the commotion was all about.
    Your mom is so young. I'm glad she has you (you!) to help her though this phase in her life.

  3. Oh, and let me say that parties in nursing homes can be LOTS of fun. :)

  4. I can't believe she was only 54. Both of my paternal grandparents had alzheimer's. Stupid, dumb alzheimer's.