Today is my mom’s 77 th birthday. She is 77 years young.
Yesterday we took her for a birthday lunch. We had to work it around my boy’s summer football schedule and go at 2pm. No complaints from Nana. I could have told her lunch was at 10 pm and she would have said “Great. I’ll be ready”.
As soon as we arrived at the restaurant, she handed each kid $20. It was her birthday celebration and yet she was handing out cash to her grandkids.
“It’s my birthday” she announced. “I can do what I want”.
Lunch was lovely. We sat and laughed together for two hours. Nana opened her gifts. Books from the used bookstore (her favorite place to buy books) and a JoAnn’s gift card so she can buy material for all the blankets she makes for friends, the police station to hand out to kids taken in custody and for local hospitals to give to kids in the pediatric ward. She is a blanket making machine and her blankets are legendary.
When we brought her home and carried her gifts in, she told my daughter and I to wait, she had something for us. She came out with gift cards to Sephora so we could go treat ourselves to something special.
When she handed me mine, it was in an envelope with my name on. “Kellie” it said.
I laughed and asked her why she spelled my name like that. If anyone should know how to spell your name, it’s the woman who gave it to you.
She laughed and shrugged.
“It’s funny” she said. “I asked my brain the same thing as I was writing it, but I just kept writing. Who knows why my brain acts this way sometimes? Somethings in life you just can’t control”.
Wise words. And such a graceful acceptance of a brain that glitches on her frequently these days. My mom understands her brain functions differently and her memory fails her often. But that doesn’t stop her from living her best life and enjoying moments she accepts she might forget.
She called me later to thank me for the day. She loved every minute of time with her grandkids. They are her everything. She said she could have sat at that table all day long. She shared that she loved her books and had already picked which one she would read first. And then she added this:
“The presents were wonderful, but the time together was the best gift. When you get to be my age Kelly, you don’t need much. But there is nothing more special than spending time with the people you love. It’s the only gift that truly matters. Today felt like heaven”.
I paused. Unable to respond. A lump formed in my throat.
Gratitude washed over me. I was so grateful for her presence in my life and grateful to still get to celebrate her on her birthday. Who cares if her brain glitches and she can’t remember things? It really doesn’t matter. She is still the same wonderful, caring, giving and very wise lady inside. Her brain may be changing but her heart has not. And I don’t believe ever will.
A good person is a good person.
I know the day will come when she will be in heaven and we will look back on days like yesterday as a priceless gift. I know we will reflect back on how much she has meant to us and how much she taught us in life. I know we will be eternally grateful for the time we spent together. I know we will appreciate that we made the most of time we had together and that her heart was full because she knew she was loved and valued.
I know that day will come but until then, I will continue to celebrate her. Celebrate her unconditional love. Celebrate all that she gives to others. Celebrate the moments she makes us laugh. Celebrate who she is inside. Celebrate how much she loves her family. Celebrate the lessons she has taught us about aging gracefully. Celebrate a life well lived.
Happy Birthday Mom, Nana and Mollie. You are so much to so many people.
Happy Birthday to the woman who gave me life and then taught me how to live it.