My birthday...but a wish for you
Some of you have asked about my mom from time to time, and since our story is very public, I like to share occasionally. Stopped by Mom's apartment in the assisted living facility she lives at these days to drop off a few necessities for her.
Her apartment continues to remain spacious and sparsely decorated. She spends most of her time in her room, watching TV and tatting or reading. She's given up many other crafts and social activities. I think dementia, caused by her bipolar disorder, makes social activities hard for her. She can't maintain her focus on so many different people in large groups. She's aware that her memory is going.
But dementia means that she forgets things. Like her only child's birthday. Or, it means that she remembers calling me two years ago on my birthday, and well, that is the same as calling me on my birthday this year in her mind. So my birthday came and went unnoticed by Mom.
Or so I thought. Tonight, she handed me a neatly wrapped and tied medicine cup. "Happy Birthday!" she exclaimed.
Many times these handmade presents have been useless to me. I've been frustrated by her plethora of unfinished projects and often felt like her crafts took precedence over my needs and time as a child.
But when I opened this neatly tied upcycled gift wrapping, I found inside these dainty little beaded and tatted earrings. I don't wear much jewelry, but these are beautiful.
One day she won't remember me anymore. Those days are rapidly approaching. And I will remember for many more decades the pain of growing up in a home where I had no space to call my own and where I often felt I was an afterthought.
But I will also remember this year when the woman whose edges have softened as her memory failed gave me a gift I'll protect for the rest of my days. Because it is proof of what she thought she was giving me all these 42 years of my life...
...the best she had to give.
My deepest wish is that each of you, no matter how deeply you've been wounded by a loved one's mental illness and hoarding behaviors, find a way to forgive and accept each other just as you are. I wasn't the easiest child to raise at times, I know. But we give the best we have and hope that it will be enough.
...it is more than enough.