Friday, December 2, 2011

"Happy Birthday!"

Today is mother's 83rd birthday. Lot's of discussion has been had in anticipation of this day. Thoughts of how to celebrate with someone who will only forget what was done ten minutes later, doesn't give much incentive for elaborate celebration. My husband and I have decided to take mother for some food and Christmas light viewing late in the evening.

I enter mother's bedroom singing "Happy Birthday" I have a range of songs from "The most beautiful girl in the world," "Little LuLu I love You "Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory, Glory!" that I greet mother with each morning. Some of these will draw a smile, others seem to annoy her without end. But today is special, it's her birthday and I want her to be reminded of it.

In years past, I have entered mother's bedroom many times, but in another place. Growing up, mother's bedroom was furnished with a huge round unframed mirror. I can remember many a day, joining her in that mirror watching every movement and motion she would make, from brushing her beautiful hair, to lining her lips with garnet red lipstick, preparing herself for the day. "Do I have a hole in the back of my hair?" she would ask. Checking to make sure, she would hand me the hairbrush and either my sister or I would do the honors of putting the finishing touch on a woman who in my eyes "was the most beautiful of all!" As I have mentioned in previous posts, mother was not only beautiful on the outside, but on the inside as well.

Today, I gently pull mother from her lying position and encourage her to sit up straight. Her once beautiful oval face is swollen to one side where she sleeps and fluid gathers. Her beautiful hazel eyes are barely visible through the swollen eyelids that eyeshadow and mascara once adorned.

She finally rises, and slow but sure, makes it to the bathroom door. I stand behind her, and can see in the mirror which hangs on the adjacent wall, an image of a small frail woman that I barely recognize as being my mother. As I wash her face, change her clothes, give instructions for teeth brushing, I visualize myself and mother in earlier years when the roles were reversed. I reach for her hairbrush and stroke from front to back, trying my best to close the "hole" in the back of her head, just like I had done some 50 years ago. The hole won't close as easily as years before. My sister and I jokingly call it now, "the great divide" where mother spends hours a day, lying on her couch, giving permanent division.

This woman that I have loved and adored all my life, now sits before me; dementia riddled and barely a glimpse of the beautiful mother I once knew. I thank GOD in the good times and question HIM in the bad. But today I am thankful that I can say "Happy Birthday, Mother!"