Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Birthday Stories and Flowers

Birthdays can be like flowers, lovely and bright, different even as they come on the same day year after year. The birthday stories some of you have been sending me are the same. Some of you have birthdays where not much fuss is made, maybe cake and ice cream. Others of you have had parties and special vacations and surprises. All fun as you celebrate the gift of another year here on Planet Earth. Some of the stories are touching. Some funny. Some loving. Some sad. A few have been a combination of all those emotions. 

That's the way the story is tonight. Chris shares about her mother who is in a nursing home suffering symptoms of dementia. But that doesn't mean she doesn't have a birthday to celebrate or reason to smile. If you can find those smiles on that hard Alzheimer's road, then life gets easier if only for a little while. Here's some of the story Chris shared with us.

"First, thank you for sharing your journey with your mom with us. My mom's 90th is this month and ...I am getting her a small tiara to wear for that day! (& balloons for the wheelchair...maybe a wrist corsage?) Last year, my sister and I took her out to lunch but the nurse forgot to let the cafeteria know that she wasn't Mom found out and felt bad since they had gone to the trouble of fixing her fried shrimp. (I think she forgot we were coming.) Anyway, we pick her up and she insists that I take her lunch from the Center with us because she wants to eat it too! ... So off we went to our little favorite restaurant...,a 1950's cafe with the best food in the world... So Mom insists on bringing the food from the Center in...I am like Mom! is rude to bring food into a restaurant and not eat their food...this is the best food ever. My sister...trying to please Mom pushes for the Center food to come in with us. Of course, the owner & the chef notice we brought our own take out food in. :/. She is so gracious, wishing Mom a happy birthday...and she asks about the food. Mom explains she couldn't hurt the Center's staff's feelings by not taking the food with us. Then she refuses to eat food at the restaurant...only soup and just a bit because she doesn't want to get full. And she eats the Center food! Crazy time!"

With someone with memory problems you might as well just go with the flow, Chris. Hope this birthday was less crazy for you but fun for your mother. But here's a preview from Chris on how things might go this year in another story she shared about her mom. 

"My mom has Alzheimer's/dementia, and the other day I got a call from her. She spoke to my husband first...asking him how it was going (like she was perfectly in control). Then I got on the line...she said she was working all day at the college and needed to go home but apparently she was home...her roommate got to go home with her husband! I said, "You're confused, aren't you, Mom?" She said she was very confused and we talked about the college she worked at, what she did...then I said she had a birthday coming up and did she know how old she was? She didn't, but then when I asked 50? No. 60? No. 70? YES! I said, "Well, there you have it! When you were 70, you did work for the college, and if you are confused and think you are 70, of course you'd be going home on the weekend! I said she was going to be 90 and she denied it over and over! Ha! What a hoot. So I said, "Well, we could pretend to lose 20 years, but then we won't have my youngest daughter (who's 19) yet!" I asked if we could pretend we don't have 20 extra pounds instead and we laughed and agreed."

Thanks for sharing, Chris. That last story made me think about my mother who drifted in time to different ages. Sometimes she was only 16 and sometimes in her thirties. She looked at me like I was  nuts if I told her she was in her nineties. She knew that wasn't right. But it definitely might be good to forget those 20 extra pounds, Chris, especially after birthday cake and pie.

Since I last talked to you here, I got another year older, but I'm still celebrating all month and you can celebrate with me by entering my birthday giveaway contest. Check out details here. Deadline to enter is September 30.

Also, today and maybe for a couple more days, The Blessed, one of my Shaker books has a special e-book price of 99 cents or less. Check it out at Amazon; Barnes & Noble (Nook); or Maybe other internet e-book sites too. Be sure to check the price to see if it's still on special before you download.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing your birthday stories with me.


  1. Thanks Ann! Blessings! I shared it with family & friends. : ) Mom gave me back the scarf & princess crown pin I gave her for her birthday . .. said she didn't like it and didn't know who gave it to her. No hurt feelings here, hey I may wear it on my birthday! : )

    1. One thing about dementia, it does remove the filters, but it also makes for very changeable feelings. Ten minutes later she might have loved the scarf and princess crown pin and been upset it you tried to take it away. Wishing you strength and patience, Chris, and thanks for sharing your story with us.

  2. Thank you for sharing these stories Chris and Ann! Both of my mother's parents have dementia/Alzheimers, so we can relate to these stories, especially the part about trying to tell them how old they are. My grandmother doesn't realize that my grandfather (who will be turning 89 in two weeks) cannot do everything he was able to do at 50 or even 60 years of age as we listen to her talk about life like she is 50 years old again (she just turned 86 this week).

    My favorite birthday memory, though, was my 21st birthday. I know a lot of people my age would say that was a memorable year for them, but my reasoning is different. (I don't drink, so no partying for me!) I spent my 21st birthday in Senegal, West Africa--an ocean away from my family and college friends. After spending part of the day at work, a group of my fellow Goshen College students took me to a little cafe for ice cream (my one birthday request). When I and another student returned to our house later that day, our host family's maid took us for a walk around town, and we spent an hour or two visiting with friends and neighbors. That evening, my host family had a special dinner to celebrate my birthday--spaghetti (not a typical Senegalese meal). They even had cake! (Desserts are not part of the regular diet in that country.) Even so far away from my loved ones, I felt very loved and cared for by this family who I had only known for a month. They made my 21st birthday a special and memorable day.

    1. I used to think about how my mother sort of drifted in memory time. First a girl, then a wife or young mother. But never her actually age. Even when she thought about getting old it was never more than 70 something. Not 90 something.

      Love your birthday story, Mallori. You certainly had a unique one but a good one too. What great memories for you.

      You didn't leave a way for me to contact you. If you want to be in the drawing, I need that Thanks.


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