Friday, June 12, 2009

A Special Birthday for my Mom

Yesterday was the 11th of June, 2009. It was a special day because it was my mother's 94th birthday. Lorraine (my wife) and I went over to Mom's house at about 1 pm and didn't come home till around 6. All three of us had a great time.

Lorraine had arranged a special 'birthday wish' for Mom:

For some years now, Mom has not been able to get to church on Sundays; people used to pick her up to take her there but some moved, some died, and Mom was in the hospital for awhile so that they just got out of the habit. Some very nice and well meaning Jehovah's witness ladies have been visiting her but she's always been Episcopalian and it's just not quite the same. So, Lorraine decided to arrange a special visit—a birthday wish.

She called the Church of the Intercession, where Mom had gone since she and Dad moved down here in the late '70s. The call was transferred to All Saints Episcopal Church, a somewhat bigger one up near the Intracoastal Waterway, and she spoke to Father Roger, who told her that the churches had merged and he was priest-in-charge for Intercession. He agreed to visit Mom at 2 pm on her birthday. Lorraine called several more times to make sure...

Lorraine and I showed up at Mom's and I started setting up the computer. Denise, a paid caregiver who helps Mom with meals, medicine, and companionship four days a week, had taken Mom to a restaurant to celebrate, and they were resting when we arrived. Lorraine urged Mom to get up, while I started setting up my laptop so that we could watch a movie. I was surprised to find a digital converter box next to Mom's TV; I started to set that up, too. Flipper started to bark, and Lorraine went to the door to discover that Father Roger had arrived a bit early. So I cleared a table for him and we sat down to talk.

This was the first time any of us had met Roger. He is a personable man who clearly cares about people. He had taken it upon himself to have an old friend of Mom's visit yesterday morning (Mom didn't remember to tell us about that until he reminded her) and has now agreed to do what he can to help her get to church at least some Sundays. He led us in a birthday service—when asked what special prayer might be offered Mom asked for World Peace—and he gave Holy Communion. It was the first time in many years for Lorraine and me to participate in a church service; we had joined a Lutheran church (Lorraine grew up in that faith) in the '80s when we had our farm in Felton, Pennsylvania, but had not been active in any church since that time although we'd go to services once in a while. It was quite a special moment for us all. I hope that Mom will be able to attend some services now, and perhaps Lorraine and I will join her upon occasion.

After Roger left, I set up the laptop and we watched Hello, Dolly. A month or two ago we had watched Brigadoon and there were a few too many memories of my Dad; it made Mom cry, missing him, even though it's been 25 years since he died. There were memories with Hello, Dolly, too, but I thought that these might be easier ones for her because I'd been there along with her and Dad. It turned out to be an excellent choice, as we sang along to most of the songs and reminisced about the three great performers we had seen in this classic. We were lucky to have seen Carol Channing, Mary Martin, and Pearl Bailey as Dolly in three productions during the '60s, and they were all superb yet each one was unique. For the movie, Barbra Streisand lent her own bit of magic, and the brief bit with Louis Armstrong was great fun.

We enjoyed some shrimp, a Greek salad, and most of all each other's company during the movie. It was a special day, and I am so grateful to Lorraine for 'arranging things' just like Dolly Levi. We rode home feeling that the 'birthday wish' had been a birthday present not just for Mom but for all of us.

Just before leaving to visit Mom, I'd gotten $25 from one of my consulting clients, that had been somewhat contested, so I had already gotten one present; the second and biggest was the whole visit with Mom and the service with Roger. When I arrived home and checked my e-mail I found the third: a new part-time job, 15 hours a week for now, starting Monday. I hope to make this opportunity work for a long time. It's not easy to live on Lorraine's SSI check and the occasional consulting job.

There was even a fourth gift—a book in the mail, called Push Comes to Shove, that is given away by its publishers, with the condition that the recipient will donate something, somewhere, and will pass the book on to someone else with the same restriction. I'll have to get reading that! And I plan to donate some computer work to Father Roger if he'll let me.

I share Mom's prayer for World Peace, and hope that anyone reading this will try just a little harder to help someone today. I know I will.


Malin said...

Sounds like an ace day :) I hope for many more of those in the future, and that your mom will be able to get to church often!


cwg said...

Thank you, Malin! ACE is the perfect word for it. And there seems hope that Mom will be able to get to church; Father Roger is working on arranging a ride for her.

Peter said...

Sounds like a great party and a great write up Chuck. And a job! Hallelujah!