Monday, 10 March 2014

Birthday blues!

It was Mum's birthday yesterday.  She was 71.  The previous two or three days had been particularly difficult, but I was determined to put on a brave face and try to make the day special for her.

The day started very early with me getting up at the crack of dawn to make some sausage rolls and a birthday cake.  By the time Mum got up, both were well on the way.  I gave her her presents and all the cards that had arrived during the week.  She had a good selection, many of them from old friends who live a good distance away.  As she was opening them, I noticed a lovely hand-written letter in one of the envelopes.  Later, as I was displaying the cards in the lounge, I asked Mum about the letter as I couldn't find it.  "Oh, I put it in the bin", was her response!  When I asked her why, she said it was too long and she couldn't be bothered to read it.  I went to try and retrieve it from the bin, but she'd done such a good job of tearing it into tiny pieces that it was impossible to put back together again.  My thoughts went out to the kind-hearted person who'd gone to the trouble of writing to Mum - if she ever reads this and recognises herself as the author, I only hope that she realises it's the Alzheimer's that makes Mum seem so ungrateful!

Amongst other things, Mark and I had bought Mum a bottle of Rive Gauche, her favourite perfume.  Her reaction?  "Well, at least you got that right, Andrea - I ran out a few weeks ago."  If I was hoping for a word of thanks, this is as close as I was going to get!

After Mum's carers had been, she and I went to church as is her wont (it's not mine, but perhaps that's a story for another day!).  She received more cards and, after the service, we shared the sausage rolls and cake with the congregation.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and everyone was in good spirits, happy to stay and chat for a while, rather than dash off, as is often the case when the weather is not so good and the church is cold.

Mum loves flowers, particularly orchids, as demonstrated by the large display of them in the conservatory.  I had read about an orchid show being held yesterday in a hotel not too far from home.  So, after church, we went to have a look around.  There were more varieties of orchid than I have ever seen in one place (in the UK, anyway - there were probably more in the botanic gardens in Singapore or Thailand!), and Mum seemed to enjoy looking around.  She chose an unusual mustardy-coloured specimen to add to her collection and I was happy to buy it for her.

We then went on to a restaurant in town where we met Mum's sister and had a pleasant lunch together.  The food was good, Mum and I shared a bottle of wine (Mark was driving!), and the afternoon was an apparent success.

We arrived home at about 5pm.  As we came in the house, the phone was ringing.  Mum answered it.  It was a very old family friend calling to wish Mum a happy birthday.  The conversation was short, but I heard Mum saying that she'd had a lovely day and briefly explaining what we'd done.  It made me feel good, thinking that, for once, I'd got something right and Mum was happy.

Imagine my surprise, then, only about half an hour later when I found Mum sitting in the lounge looking as miserable as sin.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said, "Well, there are good days and bad days, and today just happens to have been a horrible day!"

I felt like I'd be kicked in the stomach!  I went away and had a quiet cry, trying to remind myself that it's not her, it's the disease, but, boy is it tough sometimes!!

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