Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Recalling Mom and wishing her happy birthday

It was a pleasant day; hot, humid and holiday perfect. My Mom was celebrating her 85th birthday and was excited to be able to share the moment with family and friends.

The day is a fading memory, well below the horizon and sinking; and, yet, it was only three years ago – July 5, 2008. I recall it now; a pleasant remembrance, the calm before the storm.

Allison, Mom’s granddaughter and my niece, managed to pull together a splendid birthday party for her. Mom spent hours in the late afternoon getting all gussied up, taking special care with her hair, teasing it to record-breaking heights.

Once at the party, she stayed busy greeting all those wishing her well, bustling about like a youngster, happy to be surrounded by her friends and expansive family. Storm clouds huddled around the edges of the evening, however, dark places that had yet to be explored.

These shadowy problems showed themselves when Mom stumbled for a moment, introducing cousins to one another, friends to friends. Her mind was playing tricks, losing its way in time. She easily recalled the life that surrounded the young woman in the poster-sized card that Allison had created for the party – a photo of Mom in the 1940s seductively reclining on the hood of a car. Recent memories, unfortunately, were often hazy and filled with static.

We all took a moment to gather for a picture, Mom seated regally at stage center. While most everyone else smiles for the camera, Mom holds tightly to one of her great-grandchildren and offers up an inexplicable stare.

She knew what was resting uneasily around the bend. But on this evening, her birthday, she was as happy and content as I recall ever seeing her. After all, she was home, the matriarch surrounded by her loving family.

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