Some days contain bits and pieces of quirky joy. Today, Mom’s 87th birthday is one of them. She’s sleeping lightly when I arrive at the facility.
“Hello,” I say as she opens her eyes. “Guess what? Today is your birthday.”
“It’s my bird day bird day bird day,” she is immediately playful.
“Yes! Shall I sing happy birthday to you?” I say, and then begin: “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you–”
“Happy birthday dear Mummy!” she completes before I can; I laugh.
“You’re 87 today Mom. What do you think about that?”
“I think I’m coming along,” she replies. I laugh again. She smiles. Her smiles have become occasional. Putting her shoes on and getting her up from the recliner and into her wheelchair take about ten minutes.
“We’re going to have tea Mom,” I say once she’s resettled. She starts clapping. She claps a lot these days. It’s how she expresses a whole range of emotions from excitement and pleasure to anger and frustration. The set of her jaw hints as to what she might be feeling at any given moment.
“Yay!” I verbalize her enthusiasm.
“Yay for the tea party!” She echoes, and claps a little harder. As we back into the elevator, I ask her to watch out for her elbows so she doesn’t bump them on the sides of the door. She pulls her arms a little closer to her body.
“That’s good, that’s good Mom. You knew exactly what to do when I said that,” I encourage while we reverse. “You’re getting smart in your old age,” I quip.
“I’m getting very smart in my old age!” She says, impish, and taps vigorously on my arm when I squat down beside the chair so she can see me.
“Smarter and smarter all the time,” I tease.
“It just gets better and better!” she fires back at me. I laugh hard.
“Oh oh oh oh, I’m getting sort of queer. Queer on your deer,” she jokes and rhymes.
“That’s okay Mom. It’s better to be queer on your deer than, than – “
“Funny on your bunny!” She fills in quick as a wink.
“Yeah. Better to be queer on your deer than funny on your bunny.”
Especially on your birthday.
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