My mom Patti will be 80 years young on September 27, 2008. She’s an amazing woman.
This summer we celebrated her birthday every day, we played golf, we walked, we swam, we even played baseball. We enjoyed wonderful food and wine, we spent time with friends and family. And we danced.
We talked, and reminisced. She told me stories about her Mom (my grandmother), who nursed children who had scarlet fever in their neighborhood during “the depression.”
Because I won’t be with Mom “on the day,” I sang happy birthday to her every night at dinner for eights weeks. And we danced.
My brother organised a great surprise birthday party for her. Family members decorated the tent with balloons, the kids made a huge pink sign that said “Happy 80th Birthday Patti.” We had a band. Friends joined us to celebrate. The tent in which we held the party was filled with love and goodwill. And everyone danced.
It was a joyful summer.
But it was also a summer of sadness and despair. Because, while my Mom is in great shape physically, her memory and her mind are failing.
She remembers the stories of her youth, but she doesn’t remember what she had for lunch. Sometimes she doesn’t remember IF she had lunch.
Once a successful real estate agent who easily recalled the names of dozens of clients, she now sometimes forgets those of her closest friends.
She is often confused, aggressive, angry and impatient. She must be frustrated.
Those who love her, including myself, try hard to be compassionate, not to lose our own patience. Sometimes we fail. When I lose patience, I feel guilty. I feel I have failed her. And then I remind myself that I’m only human, and thus not perfect.
And I remind myself that an illness is not the person who has it.
I re-discovered this summer that amidst despair there can also be joy. And when you find joy, it can be a good thing to dance.
I won’t share this blog entry with my Mom. There’s no point in feeding despair. But I will share with her comments about our dance video, because it seems to me that there are many reasons for fuelling joy.
Please share your comments after the video at this link.