What is a 'best year' in one's life, especially when there have been 95 of them? Marriage, children, time with relatives (including her own parents), travel, meaningful contribution to others - all of these, and more, create a life well lived.
Today is Mom's 95th birthday, and with help from staff at the Skilled Nursing Facility at Door County Memorial Hospital (North Shore), and my sisters, Helen and Martha, she will become the center of attention until nap time.
She may not always remember the day or month, but when a party was mentioned for her birthday, she wished for chocolate cake.
Yesterday, when I visited her, she thought the special day had already passed, but with flowers and card in hand, I assured her that wasn't the case. We communicated in the manner that has proven to be the most successful, given her poor hearing, of using pen and paper, constructing short phrases of conversation, from me, for her to read. She nods, often smiles, and occasionally asks a question in reply, and this tells me she knows and remembers (maybe more than I had realized). She can place my words into her thoughts.
Happy Birthday, Mom. Here's a small gift for you, one who never has gone online, who never learned how to use a computer (or needed one), but for whom life still had, and has, precious moments. (From a visit in August, 2010):
Right eye partly opened
In afternoon repose
Mother breathes easily and sleeps
And her roommate sleeps too
A few family photos are pinned to the
Wallboard beyond the foot of her bed
Top floor apartments and top floor
Offices are the most sought after
Some people work all their lives to
Achieve top floor status and never get there
By those standards Mom has it made
A mending hip at 93 bought her
This top floor hospital room
Facing sunny skies over town
Where eye level cumulus float by
Three meals are prepared if she cares to eat
An unwatched television screen
Plays Little House On The Prairie and
A nurse frequently checks in
To determine if she sleeps and breathes
Or just sleeps
“Have you been up for a walk today?” I ask
Then repeat my question
Because she didn’t appear to
Hear or maybe didn’t care to hear me
Awake and alert for the moment
She turns her head toward the window