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Birthday Cake, Anyone?

It’s been just over a year since I last wrote a blog post. How did that happen? I feel like time has somehow sucked me into its maw, chewed me up while it contracted months into a couple of days, and then spat me out half-eaten. Now I’m sitting at my desk (dripping time-spit) and wondering where to go from here.

Calendar Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

First, maybe I should tell you what’s been going on.

For the last four or so years my Mum has been declining in her ability to look after herself—losing her sight and memory—but (as determined mums tend to do) she refused to come and live with one of us, or sell her house and go into a rest home.

So we did our best as a family to keep her in her home while still keeping her safe. That meant (for me) traveling down the country once a month or so to take her to eye appointments and stay for a week while I cooked enough freezer-ready meals for her to eat until I returned for the next eye appointment.

This is not a big deal. Both my sisters, living closer, did as much or more.

But in March this year—a couple of days before my birthday and only the day before I was due to visit her—she had a stroke and was hospitalized. We weren’t sure whether she’d make it. She did, but after she had a couple more strokes it was very obvious she could no longer live alone.

While we were trying to figure out how to tell her all this—and what to do next—my birthday arrived. So I took some little Carrot Cake muffins (which she loved) up to the hospital with candles.

Cupcakes Photo by Thor Alvis on Unsplash

“Since it’s my birthday,” I told her, “I thought we’d celebrate—”

And she burst into tears.

“What’s wrong?” I asked hugging her and wondering if she was in pain.

“It’s your birthday,” she sobbed. “And I forgot, and I didn’t get you a present or anything.”

My heart just broke. “It’s okay,” I said. “You can sing me Happy Birthday instead and we’ll have cake and a cup of tea.”

So she dried her tears and sang me Happy Birthday—in twenty-seven different keys as she usually does—then I blew out the candle and we had cake. After I tidied the muffins away, we just sat and talked.

Until about twenty minutes later when my sisters came in.

Sisters Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

“Happy birthday, Gracie!” they said.

And Mum burst into tears. “Is it your birthday?” she said. “Is it?”

“Well, yes,” I said. “But—”

“I forgot,” she wailed. “I didn’t even get you a present.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said, and grabbed for the muffins. “Look, I brought cake and a candle. Let’s light the candle, have some cake and you can sing me happy birthday instead.”

So we did, and she did, and everything settled down. Until about half an hour later when my aunt and uncle arrived and …

Oops Photo by Andre Guerra on Unsplash

Thank God I brought lots of muffins!

But I’m so, SO lucky. I had three birthdays this year. My Mum was alive to celebrate them all with me. She sang me Happy Birthday and told me she loved me, as she has done every year of my life so far, and I had cake—LOTS of cake—with the people I love.

Celebrate Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

What more can anyone ask?

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Louise
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my heart breaks for you and your family. You are a kind and generous soul and love your Mum to bits and pieces, as we all do in our time. I hope you get to have lots more precious moments with her….each one will be a diamond x x x x
ps One can never have TOO much birthday cake, whatever the reason…..

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