It's your birthday! I began the day visiting you, hoping to take you out for a ride. But your 92-year old body had other plans. You roused briefly when the nurse mentioned ice cream, but shook your head firmly "No!" when we asked if you wanted to get up. And so I sat by your side and held your hand and talked to you while you slept. I thanked you yet again for your unconditional love, I told you about the mean people trying to hurt me, I talked to you about how happy Dad would be about these five years we've had together since he left. I wondered out loud how I will go on without you someday, a day that in any case will come much sooner than I would wish, but perhaps be finally welcomed by you, released from the difficult demands of all those years stored in your bones and the capricious winds of your failing mind.
But meanwhile, every day is a gift beyond measure, a toast to the surprise of your tenacious endurance. You, who were always the most beset with physical and mental frailties, have far outlived everyone on all sides of our family. Imagine that! Is it just to keep me company as I play piano, to play air piano by my side with such pleasure in your face, a bounce in your tired body and delight in the last notes, just to keep showering me with your praise and delight in the person you think I am (and hope I deserve)?
I finally left you sleeping, went to the piano in the Atrium and played a distant Happy Birthday to you. Fran and Patsy joined me with some of the old jazz standards and I missed you by my side, but hope you heard the music. Tomorrow I come again, not knowing which of your many selves will greet me, but ready to accept and love them all.
Happy Birthday, Mom, from your loving son.