Monday, May 21, 2012

The last birthday card

When I was a child, my mother always stressed the importance of remembering birthdays. There was, she said, nothing more delightful than an acknowledgement of the day on which you were born. It was a celebration meant only for the individual in question, not a shared holiday, such as Christmas or Easter. While she enjoyed receiving gifts which had been thoughtfully chosen, above all, Mom loved receiving birthday cards. Mom said as far as she was concerned you could do away with the presents; it was the cards which were so very important to her.

On a Friday, I bought the last birthday card I will ever give to my mom. Her birthday and Mother's Day fell on the same date this year, Sunday, 13 May. After a very brief illness, Mom died on the evening of the very next day, surrounded by the family she loved.

On that Sunday, we were all there to see Mom open the cards which would mark her 81st birthday, as well as the cards for Mother's Day. Mom was wearing an oxygen mask which was helping her breathe, so she could not put on her eyeglasses. Mom was too weak to read out the verses and personal messages written inside, so I stood by the side of her bed and read them aloud to her. Tears welled up in her eyes, as I opened each card, and her lips moved in whispers as I recited the verse. She took the cards in hand, and ran her fingers over the surface of them. Some of the cards had colourful flocking or little sparkles, others had scalloped edges or ribbon. Each one delighted her in its own way.

After I read out the cards, we placed them on her window sill next to her bed, and there they stood until Mom was gone, and we had to leave the hospital, on Monday night. No more will Mom gaze upon them. She will never again read out the verses, or run her hand over the cards' crafted edges. Never again will she display them across the top of her piano, and then pack them away with all of her other birthday cards, in the small blue case Mom kept under her bed.

Never again will I go to the card shop to buy a birthday card to give to Mom, a card with a pretty cover, and a poetic verse. Never again will I see the smile come over her lips, as she reads the words of love meant only for her.

It was the last birthday card.

Mary Jane Teresa Ball Geraghty
13 May 1931 - 14 May 2012


20 comments:

  1. Oh Jennifer, I am so sad for you at this difficult time. I don't want to sound trite but in a way it's lovely that she, and all of you, had the chance to celebrate one last birthday and Mother's Day with her. It's obvious that it was the thoughts and care of her family that were so very important to her. You gave her the blessing of love and care to the last. My sympathy in your loss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Pauleen,

      Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts. We are very grateful to have been able to spend Mom's last birthday with her.

      Jennifer

      Delete
  2. One of the most beautiful tributes I have ever read. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Carol,

      Thank you for your kindness and support my friend.

      Jennifer

      Delete
  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful gift to have spent that last birthday with her - a time you will treasure for the rest of your life.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Debi,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments; they are much appreciated.

    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jennifer, sorry to hear of your recent loss. My mom has been gone for some time but I still miss her every day. She is the reason I want to write the genealogy of her side of the family tree. I want others to know her as I did.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Colleen,

    Thank you for your kind words; they are much appreciated.

    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's never easy losing one we love, most especially a mom. I'm so glad you got the last birthday with her. It's a special memory you will always keep.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Leslie,

      Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate receiving them.

      Jennifer

      Delete
  8. Your Mother would no doubt be very proud of the beautiful tribute you have paid her. What wonderful memories, though tinged with sadness. I can no longer give my mother the cards she adored either, but it helps me to light a blue candle in her memory on her birthday, Mother's Day and Christmas Eve... something I've been doing for 30 years. The memory of your mother's beautiful smile will remain with you always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Crissouli,

      Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. I love the idea that you light a candle for your mom.

      Jennifer

      Delete
  9. What a beautiful tribute to your Mother. So sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dear Judy,

    Thank you for your kind words; they are much appreciated.

    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  11. My condolences Jennifer. Such a beautifully written tribute a very precious and well loved mother. May your heart be at peace. Catherine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Catherine,

      Thank you for your kind comments. They are much appreciated.

      Jennifer

      Delete
  12. Such a beautiful post to honour your mother. I'm very sorry for your tremendous loss :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Maggie. I really appreciate your kind words.

      Jennifer

      Delete
  13. Jennifer, I've been so behind in my reading, and just tonight got the opportunity to catch up here. I'm sorry for having missed reading this, and most certainly sorry to hear of your loss. The pain at first, as it is for all of us who have gone through such an experience, may seem unbearable, but I trust you are beginning to move into the realm of those precious healing memories that resurrect a lost loved one to a cherished position within your heart. She will, though in an intangible way, always be with you. The sweet picture you shared at the end of this post tells me you are allowing that healing to do its work. What a precious legacy your mother has left you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dear Jacqi,

    Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. They are much appreciated.

    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete

Comments on this blog are always deeply appreciated; however, in the spirit of true collegiality, I ask that you do not write something you would not say to me in person.

There is a proliferation of SPAM on this blog, so unfortunately comments moderation must be in operation for posts older than two days.

Any comments that are mean-spirited, include URLs which are not connected to the post topic, contain misinformation, or in any way resemble advertising, will be removed.

Cheers, Jennifer

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...