If ever there is a day we may miss our mom, it would certainly be on one’s birthday. This particular birthday is my first with her no longer in the earthly realm. When my siblings and I grew up, she always made an angel food cake for our special day. Ice cream and cake would absolutely always accompany one of her exquisitely delicious meals. One of my most memorable birthdays was during the 2020 lockdown.
My mom had a series of strokes years ago which paralyzed her dominant side. It also made speech a huge challenge. She would struggle for words. I know she knew what she wanted, but transferring her thoughts and desires to any of us took much patience on all our parts. Many times she was capable of uttering single word responses, however her speech didn’t always obey her thoughts. Sometimes she could string together as many as three words. Those three words were typically a frustrated “I don’t know!”
Mom and the Call
Thankfully, she had always been able to communicate with her phone. During the 2020 lockdown, her assisted living facility was in mandatory isolation. The phone proved to be our only method of communication at that time. Usually the only time she would call would be when she wanted me to buy her something. It would sometimes take her five minutes to try to utter a single correct word of what she wanted. My guessing talents improved somewhat through the years.
I was so pleasantly surprised that she called me on my birthday during that lockdown. She would randomly call, but she had never phoned on my birthday for the fifteen previous years since she had had the strokes! She was even able to utter the word “birthday”! Then I told her a joke I’d heard – it was great to hear her laugh. Additionally, I asked her a few simple questions to which she responded.
The Birthday Sing-Along with Mom
Knowing the capacity of a post-stroke brain when stimulated by the power of music, I made a request, “Mom, would you please sing ‘Happy Birthday’ with me?” Initially she responded with another easy and all too frequent word, “No.” Spontaneously, I just started singing and she joined in! We both sang the first two lines. It had been years since I’d convinced her to sing! Then, I couldn’t vocalize any more as I was too choked up. We each giggled like little girls. For just a few lovely minutes, I felt as if I had my true Mom back – what a birthday gift which I will always treasure!
Here is a research article with post stroke communication tips: https://www.expressable.com/learning-center/adults/18-tips-for-communicating-with-a-loved-one-after-a-stroke This is a post featuring my mom: Mother Tribute