Since Mom has been having a lot of trouble knowing/remembering what day it is, my daughter suggested we put a little white board near her and update it every day with the day of the week and date. Mom often asks what is for dinner and who is coming for dinner so I put that on the white board, too. If there is any event occurring or a caregiver coming that is noted as well.
The other day I was updating her board and said aloud it was May 10. Mom said brightly, “It’s my grandmother’s birthday!” Actually it was her mother’s birthday. Maybe I should have just gone along with her, but instead I corrected her and told her it was really her mother’s birthday, my Grammy.
Interestingly, I recently asked her when Grammy’s birthday was and she could not tell me. I had been googling my Grammy’s name and to my amazement I found a photo of her gravestone. It had her year of birth and death but not the actual dates. I wanted to get the dates before it was too late. I was sad to think I might not be able to find out. A few days after I asked Mom about it, she looked up from the book she was reading and said, “Mother’s birthday is May 10.” Knock me over with a feather. The filing cabinet drawer opened and out popped a folder.
Back to the current May 10 though. Since Mom didn’t seem to know the difference between her mother and grandmother I wanted to know where I was fitting into the family tree that morning. I asked Mom how she and I were related and she replied, “You’re my cousin.”
Mom has very few cousins. In all my life I’ve rarely heard her mention cousins. The ones she had lived far away and she didn’t grow up visiting or playing with them. Maybe she’s secretly wanted a close cousin–now she’s got one. At least for the day.
Later that day an old friend called her. They had a good back and forth conversation–something I don’t often get with her. In fact, I look forward to her phone calls just to hear her conversing with someone. I heard her tell her friend it was her mother’s birthday (bravo, Mom).
After the phone call Mom asked me if I had her mother’s address because she wanted to send her a birthday card. I told her Grammy had been gone a long time–nearly 50 years–and she was in heaven now. “Well, I guess I won’t send her a card then,” she replied matter-of-factly. I told her maybe her mother would be able to hear her birthday wishes in heaven. Mom looked up and said, “Happy Birthday, Mother.” She would have been 111 years old.