Today is my Madre's 89th Birthday! In one breath, I'm saying, "Wow, how incredible that she has reached this age."
And in the next,
"Wow, I can't believe how much has changed in a year."
Last year for my mom's birthday, I took her out to lunch and to get a manicure before having cake at her kitchen table, a table that has fed me in more ways than one. I have a lot of pictures from that sacred time last year along with a few videos. One of her caregivers was also with us, and our conversation together was fruitful with gratitude, love, and hope. In one video, my mom is hugging and kissing her caregiver thanking her for everything she has graciously provided my mom to be able to stay at home while fighting Alzheimer's. (Alzheimer's, for the record, is not too friendly sometimes)! In the other, my mom is all giggles, deep down in the pit of the belly giggles, encouraging me to fulfill my dream to write with a purpose which she had blessed long ago. In this video, which is raw and as homemade as it gets, she tells me she wants a share in the royalties. Royalties! This statement was so out of the blue but the brilliant star in the galaxy of a dreamer. It left me laughing to tears because a published piece of written work is a destination I don't know I will ever reach. I certainly hope to accomplish it someday but caring for my mom has been a well worth it time-consuming undertaking. Here's the thing though that makes the video so inspiring to me; the more I read my writings to my mom these past five-plus years, the more she encouraged me to keep at it eventually giving me ideas of how to tell our story, what to add, and even gave me a title to use. She believed in me and the power of stories. She was a life-long reader of books until just a few years ago and the morning paper until recent months. When I am sometimes hesitant to share certain things about our journey, I must remember she never told me not to. Instead, she continued to feed me with rich content.
Now that I can review the past year, I vividly see her somewhat vast decline due to uncontrollable forces from Alzheimer's. At the very end of March, my mom transitioned from advanced stage to end-stage. She had a 12-day hospital stay for an infection, followed by five weeks in a rehab facility, one week at home, another week in the hospital, then came back home two and a half weeks ago. In addition to her 24/7 caregivers, she also has in-home hospice care. These past three months have been filled with many trips back and forth to be with my mom and left me little focus to write. The words are slowly coming when and how they should.
Last Saturday morning while her life-long friend and my sister-in-law were visiting, we were graced with a very unexpected and impromptu early birthday celebration at where else but my mom's kitchen table. It was a miracle that my mom wanted to get out of bed, and with the help of her caregiver, we had her sitting in the kitchen one last time. This year, our conversation was abundant with friendship, presence, loving care, and the gift of time. As for the royalties? Royalties may come and go or never come at all. But where there's a will, there's a way and a time for everything to exist.
Happy Birthday, mom. Your words and determination are my motivation and direction.