Tag Archives: birthdays

CELEBRATE THE LINE

My mom, 1918,  the baby before two more siblings followed.

My mom, Mary Elizabeth, 1918, the baby before two more siblings followed.

 

Mom in 1949, holding their baby daughter, while  Dad holds their son.

Mom in 1949, holding their baby daughter, while Dad holds their son.

Last week’s topic was “Secrets of Success.”

This week’s topic is “How To Turn Disappointments Into Celebrations.”

Many years ago, a college acquaintance had a strange solution for any disappointment she faced: she made herself feel better by finding someone who was more disappointed and miserable than she was. For instance, when her boyfriend back home dumped her, she cheered up when she found someone else whose fiancé made a big deal of publicly ending their engagement on campus. She called this strategy “Being Glad You’re Not THAT Miserable,” and it seemed to work for her.

My birthday is at the end of this month…and it’s a BIG milestone birthday. Although I know my husband, daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren will do something special, I also know my mother will not remember my birthday. Because of her dementia, she rarely remembers who I am any more or sometimes even where she is.  But it’s still sad that for the past seven years she’s had no memory of days that used to mean so much to her, including the day I was born.

Using the technique of my college acquaintance, I found these birthday disappointments of others: Paulina Porizkova was fired by “America’s Next Top Model” on her birthday, and actress Evan Rachel Wood said, “I’ll never forget my 24th birthday when my tooth got punched out…”   But the one that made me choke back tears was by actress/model/singer Amy Weber: “I lost twins at 14 weeks, and I had to have a D&C on my birthday.” 

I’ve never been good at feeling better because someone else felt worse.  The college acquaintance’s strategy didn’t work for me then, and it doesn’t work for me now. 

But I have found a way of creating my own happiness as I celebrate my birthday with my mother. When I drive to Kansas to visit her each month, I take along foods she might enjoy, fresh flowers or a plant. When I visit her each September, I take a cake or cupcakes. And candles. Sometimes ice cream, too.   And I sing “Happy Birthday to US” and light the candles (just a few candles…we don’t want a bon fire.)

Mom still enjoys blowing out candles, and she sometimes wants me to light them again so she can blow them out a second time. It’s our shared celebration—I’m the birthday girl; she’s the mother who gave birth to me—and at some point during my visit I tell her a story from when I was a child and she did something sweet, funny, poignant or wonderful. Usually she’ll smile and say something like, “That’s nice. Do I know her?”   She doesn’t know “her,” but I do.

Dementia prevents Mom from remembering when my birthday is or even who I am. Reality confirms that the woman who wanted so much to be a mother, and who suffered four miscarriages before she had her two children, went on to have three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. All of us are here because she didn’t give up or bury her disappointments by finding other women who had even worse pains and more sadness.

So for my birthday again this year, we’ll celebrate the line of life. We’ll eat cake, blow out candles, smile and celebrate all the lives and loves that dementia cannot erase.   Happy Birth Day To Us.

1978 ~ Marylin holds her daughter Molly, Mary's granddaughter.

1978 ~ Marylin and her daughter Molly, Mary’s granddaughter.

 

2005 ~ Molly holds portrait of Dad's mother as a  toddler for her own toddlers, Mary's great-grandchildren.

2005 ~ Molly holds portrait of her grandpa’s mother as a toddler for her own children, Mary and Ray’s great-grandchildren.

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Filed under birthday celebrations, birthdays, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations, Things to be thankful for

Choices For The Last Weeks of September

Historic school house ~ Fort Scott, KS (all photography by Marylin Warner)

Hi, Mom,

It’s our favorite time of year again, when the air is crisp and the leaves begin to change.  About this time each September, you’d begin asking what special dinner I wanted for my birthday, what cake I wanted you to make for dessert, and if there was a special something I wanted as a present. We didn’t make a huge deal of birthdays, but you always made them special. Because of your sudden spiking blood pressure during pregnancy–the doctors now call it pre-eclampsia–I was delivered quickly by C-section, more than 3 weeks early. You and I decided it was because I was determined to be born in September; I cut it pretty close, taking my first breath on the evening of the 30th.

Okay, Mom, just for the fun of it, during the last weeks of September there are some choices to make. We’ve already missed National Cream-filled Donut Day on the 14th, which Dad would have loved, and Make A Hat Day on the 15th (which you tried once, but we won’t talk about it, right?) Today, Sept. 16, there are many choices: Collect Rocks Day, Mayflower Day, National PlayDoh Day, and National Women’s Friendship Day. And tomorrow, the 17th, one of the choices is Wear Sneakers to Work Day. How’s that sound?

To make things simple, how about limiting the choices to food options: the 17th of September is National Apple Dumpling Day; the 18th is Cheeseburger Day; the 19th is Butterscotch Pudding Day; and the 20th is National Punch Day (we’ll assume this is the drink and not hitting). This year Oktoberfest begins on the 22nd, and the 26th is Johnny Appleseed Day in case apple sauce sounds good.  The 29th is Confucius Day, and you always used to have fun with fortune cookies.  On the 30th, there are more choices than just my birthday:  Yom Kippur; National Mud Pack Day; oh, and on this day in 1902, Rayon was patented, so we could celebrate that, too.  It can get silly, but it’s fun.

Tonight as I was working on the computer, Oldies But Goodies were playing on i-Tunes. Bobby Vinton was  singing a song: “…so let us make a pledge to meet in September…and seal it with a kiss…”   It made me smile. For years we’ve done that, meeting in September, on or close to my actual birthday. I drive from Colorado for my regular visit with you in Kansas, but I bring cupcakes so you can have a choice of flavors. When I sing the Happy Birthday song, you sing along. You usually ask if it’s your birthday (which we celebrated in July).                                                                 I tell you it’s OUR birthday, because it is.

The date of my birth was September 30th, but it’s actually a special day for both of us. It’s the day we became Mother and Daughter, and that’s something worth celebrating.

I love you, Mom.  See you soon…with cupcakes.     Marylin                       

Cupcake choices: Maple with Bacon (!), Chocolate Mint, Black Forest, and Peanut Butter Special

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Filed under birthday celebrations, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, Uncategorized