Birthday Card Blues

My mother’s birthday is this coming Monday.  And as it is the first one since my father passed away, I want to do something somewhat special.

I started to roll through all the usual things, a trip to her favorite restaurant, some clothing that is comprised of some gaudy printed top and bright colored, flashy pants, and … as I thought about getting her the usual birthday card, I stopped and began to cry uncontrollably.

Since my mother’s dementia has progressed her ability to read has significantly decreased. I got her a card for mother’s day which she never even opened and instead focused only on telling me how much she didn’t like the 4 out of the 5 tops I picked out for her. (Which is absolutely out of character for my mother. She used to be the kind that would rather die than tell someone she didn’t like a gift.)

My gut reaction was truly puzzling to me. Yeah, it’s sad that she can’t read, but I didn’t understand the overreaction. Most of the time I usually just feel the ache in my chest and move on. As I picked it apart (as I tend to do with most of my thoughts) I realized two different things.

The first realization had to do with my weird obsession with birthday cards. For a few years I would actually buy two. One that reeked of sentimentality and the other that was a giant joke. And with the sentimental card I would write a long paragraph about how much the person meant to me. The last few years, as cash has been tight, I boiled it down to one and stuck with my schmaltzy reflections.

Those days are gone with my mother.

That last piece is what led me to the next conclusion…

I want to be a published author and if I ever get off my lazy ass and finish editing my “completed” novel, maybe one day I can achieve that goal. And if I were to do that, no matter the subject matter, I would want my mother to read my book. Which, even now, would be a miracle if she could. She would pretend she was understanding, maybe even put a bookmark in to complete the ruse, but ultimately she would not. The only thing I could do was read it to her. Which would be sweet but… I broke down crying over the idea of a birthday card. How the fuck am I going to read her my novel?

This birthday I will just skip the card, and instead provide her the one thing she has been severely lacking, companionship.

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