Today is my daughter’s 9th birthday. She is my firstborn (biological) child. I still remember the day she was born; it seems like only yesterday. My mom had nursed me through my sickly pregnancy and was with me the entire time during labor and delivery. Never did you see a more proud grandma than my mom!
Dementia has brought many unpleasant changes. One thing we’ve been impressed with is mom’s ability to remember everyone’s birthdays. [You might remember my post about shopping with mom for birthday cards]. Today we stopped by mom’s house to check in with her. I brought my birthday girl in with me and asked mom if she remembered what was special about today. When I got no response, pulled Aubrey to my side and told mom it was her birthday. Mom sat in her computer chair and was fixed on her computer screen, not looking towards me at all. I continued to prompt her to see if I could spark her memory. I knew she had a special card tucked away somewhere for Aubrey.
“Mom, it’s June 10th. It’s Aubrey’s birthday, remember?”
“June June, what’s June?” mom asked, her gaze never leaving her computer screen.
I pulled the calendar off the wall and presented it in front of her, pointing to the date. After ten minutes of trying to explain to mom that it was Aubrey’s birthday, I finally gave up. Tears welled up in my eyes but I held strong, not wanting to break down in front of my daughter. On my way out the door, I said my usual “good-bye mom, love you” and that finally caught mom’s attention.
“What, why are you going why did you come so short?” she asked.
“I’m taking Aubrey to lunch for her birthday, it’s her birthday today, mom. I tried explaining that to you,” I stated, resigned to the fact that mom would not remember her firstborn granddaughter’s birthday.
Mom sat with a blank look on her face for a few seconds and then it finally clicked.
“Oh today is Aubrey’s birthday? Today? Can I give her that card thing?” she mumbled.
[On a side note, mom’s language is becoming very slurred and garbled; this is my translation of her mumblings].
“Yes mom, I know you have a special birthday card for her,” I offered as I followed her into her bedroom.
Mom retrieved her pile of birthday cards and looked through each one. Every family birthday from now until the end of the year is tucked away in an envelope and addressed to the birthday person. I helped her find Aubrey’s card (which was misspelled as “Abry”) and she took the card out of the envelope to see if there was a signature.
“Can I do this here too?” she asked. I handed her a pen and she signed the card as Aubrey sat down on the bed next to her. She smiled at Aubrey as she gave her the card. Aubrey gave her grandma a hug and we tried to get a picture with her. This was the best we could get (mom is rubbing her lips together). She doesn’t understand the concept of pictures anymore.
After we had left, I showed Aubrey the picture of her grandma holding her on the day she was born. I told her of grandma’s pride and excitement at her arrival. I reminded her of how very much her grandma loved her. I told Aubrey to keep and cherish that birthday card from grandma forever. It is probably the very last one that she will ever receive from her.