Happy Birthday, Dimples

dimplesTomorrow is my mother's birthday. She'll be 88. She won't know it. She won't know it's her birthday. She won't know that she's 88. She won't know that she's in an assisted living facility. She won't know that I've come to see her and brought her a cake. She only knows... what?

In some ways, I think, Alzheimer's Disease is like severe autism. The person with the disease has an interior life that nobody else will ever know.

I've said before that I think Mummy is in the store, taking inventory, or changing the displays. I think that because of the words I pick out from the neurological static that comes out of her mouth. There are numbers, and colors. Sometimes she'll tell an invisible assistant to put something there, where people can see it.

But who knows.

She's been saying the names of dead people for the past couple of weeks, and pointing. At them? I don't know. I've asked her if she sees her cousin Milton, who was her favorite relative. I don't get an answer.

This is what she's become: an empty shell, a blown-out egg. Fragile and hollow, with only a hint of what was inside before. Let me show you something else:

This was the hottie who did her part for the war effort by dancing with sailors at the USO. She drove them wild. Check her out, in her sailor's cap and her peacoat. I still have that peacoat. It had her name written in indelible ink on the inside label, where the sailor's was supposed to go. She always giggled a little when she let me wear it, and told me it was a REAL peacoat, one that a sailor had given her, and they weren't supposed to do that.

The old dame had some set of pins on her, didn't she? And she still has a trim pair of ankles, even if she can't really walk.

I wish she was still on that beach, smiling with those dimples at whoever took the picture. I cropped it, but his toes are in the shot, at the bottom. I wish she were dancing with the sailors, and not counting pairs of shoes.

I have to believe that she is where she was happiest in her life, because to believe otherwise is too cruel. For me, for her, for anyone who ever loved her.

Happy birthday, Momma. I love you. I made your recipe for macaroni and cheese for dinner tonight. I'll bring you some tomorrow.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/10 at 11:15 PM in Maudlin Crap

(8) Comments
#1. Posted by LM on May 11, 2006

She was absolutely gorgeous. Just look at that smile.

And if she’s not where she was most happy, perhaps she’s where she was most comfortable.

#2. Posted by Dorothy on May 11, 2006

Thank you for sharing those pictures of your mom.  She was a beauty!

Looking at those old photos reminded me of my late mother-in-law Lil, who was also a very special person to me.

#3. Posted by bob on May 11, 2006

it hurts so much sometimes to know what was and see what is left. one hopes that the person with the disease is at least happier on the inside. blessings to you and your mother. and, yes, she was a stunner.

#4. Posted by Miss Bliss on May 11, 2006

A very Happy Birthday to your Mom.  I’ve got some photos of my Mom that are very similar to those. 
Love and blessings.

#5. Posted by Nancelah on May 11, 2006

Happy birthday to our dear Aunt Florence.  I’ll always remember the beautiful house in Stuart and her collection of Depression glass.

#6. Posted by Kathleen on May 12, 2006

Happy Birthday to your Mom, Lynne. You know, you have her million dollar smile - - and her gams! love Kathleen

#7. Posted by Gigi on May 12, 2006

Happy Birthday to your Mom ~ she’s adorable!  My own just had her 93rd, also in an assisted living facility, sadly.  Although she does not have Alzheimer’s she is slowly fading away, losing that critical zest that made her…her.  It is heartbreaking not to know how to make them happy, when it’s all they ever wanted for us.

It’s a lovely tribute.  Your love for her shines through.

#8. Posted by brette on May 24, 2006

I couldn’t ever know….

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