Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A 95th Birthday Party

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, Grant us peace.

My nieces flew across the country last week, as they have done in each of the past six years, to celebrate their grandma’s birthday.  Mom turned 95 last Thursday.
Their visit started out as usual, with the girls stopping at the local White Castle hamburger store on the way from the airport.  (Sometimes, I swear, they value visiting that store more than me or mom --- but that’s another story.)  When they arrived at grandma’s house, she was in bed, as she is always now.  And unfortunately, she did not recognize them that first night.  Sundowner’s Syndrome is a very common thing among the very elderly; it occurs when in the latter part of the day they are not as sharp mentally as earlier.  And Wednesday mom looked warily at them as they approached and hugged and kissed her, but she did not know them.  But they understood

 Later, Wednesday night was the usual round of pinochle games at my house, as we all told stories of events which had happened over the past year, and laughed, and ate, and drank all the weird concoctions that their Uncle Tom had prepared.  It was a good night.
On Thursday, we picked up the cake and went over to grandma’s house again, and this time she was more alert, and recognized each one of her granddaughters, including Annie: “You’re the nurse.  You’re my favorite.”  Well, that didn’t go over universally well, but again, everyone understood.  And we all sang happy birthday and ate cake (no, we didn’t have 95 candles).
Fran and Sue, mom’s two caregivers were a little reluctant to have their pictures taken, but as you can see we convinced them --- or ordered them, depending upon your viewpoint.  ;-)
Fran visits four days a week and gives mom regular baths, bed-baths these days, and Sue is mom’s live-in caregiver, with a bedroom across the hall from mom in the small two-bedroom house we rent.  They are both a great blessing for mom, and for me.  They care for her as they would their own mother.
We couldn’t get mom to smile in any of these pictures, but she was happy.  Although she did eat some cake later, you can see that coffee and applesauce are part of her basic food groups, which she has and enjoys every day.  It was Sue who began putting scoops of protein powder into her coffee and applesauce each day, as a means of getting more protein into her body to help with healing her bed sores.
The nieces, Ann, Rose, and Florence are around their grandma’s bed, as they were each during of their 4-day visit.  While their West-coast time zone heads could never adjust to our Eastern Time zone, at least it fit within grandma’s morning wakening time.  They slept late, and so did grandma, and so noon visits each day fit in nicely with all their schedules, (which was long after their uncle awoke, went to mass, did the dishes, and put the coffee on.)   But, my nieces were appreciative of my hospitality, and even let me win a couple of pinochle games.  (And even politely said that they enjoyed the salmon dinner I prepared for them on Thursday afternoon.)  They are truly wonderful nieces, and a great blessing to me and mom.
Our life is over like a sigh.
Our span is seventy years or eighty,
For those who are strong.  (
Ps 90)
I guess mom is VERY strong.  Ann said that she may yet live a long while, if she can overcome all the bed sores she has.  Some are infecting, she noted, and that may ultimately get her.  But regardless of how or when, we all knew we were very blessed, for her long life, and for our family. 
Each night after mom went to sleep, we went back to my house for card games, which were always interrupted by calls back home, as the girls had to speak to their children and re-live the events of their day.  Their obvious love for their families just re-enforced how blessed our family is.  I recall the promise we all made around their mom’s death bed, that “it’s okay mom; everything will be okay.  We’ll always remember all you taught us; we’ll never forget.”  My sister was a wonderful lady, and so are her daughters.
And they haven’t forgotten that promise they made to her, nor have I.  We have much to celebrate, each and every day.

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