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Happy Birthday, Minkey! September 30, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, People.

Mom turns 85 today!

2014-09-25 09-35-14_0004

Let’s do the math:

85 years x 365 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes = 44,467,600 minutes (give or take thirty thousand minutes to account for Leap Years).

Of those 44 million minutes, mom remembers, oh, let’s say, the last 10 or 20 clearly.  The farther back she goes, the fuzzier it gets.

If I showed her this photo (taken 20 or so years ago), she’d recognize the out-of-focus faces but it wouldn’t help her to recall anything about the day.

2014-09-25 09-37-33_0006

Her faded long-term memory makes for some interesting conversations.  She remembers she has four kids, but the nomenclature is off at times.

* One day, she wanted to talk to my brother’s wife about something.  Instead of asking for Joan by name, she asked my brother, “Do you know where your mother is?”

Doug kept a straight face and said, “Yeah.  I’m looking right at her.”  (I give him kudos for resisting the urge to reply, “Oh, mom?  She’s lost in space.”)

* Another time, my sister and her family flew from FL to CO for a visit.  Mom recognized my sister, but not my sister’s husband, Mike (who’s been in the family for 25+ years).

At one point during the visit, mom asked Mike, “Where do you live?”
Mike replied, “In Orlando.”

Mom perked up, “My daughter lives in Orlando . . . do you know her?”
Mike nodded,  “Yeah, I married her.”

Surprised, mom asked, “When?”

* Several times, mom has asked me what happened to dad.  After I fill her in on his final illness and death, she nods, “So that’s it . . . he’s dead?”

Yup.  That’s it.



On the plus side, since she is seldom pulled into memories of what once was, she finds it easy to stay situated in the Present Moment.

The Eternal NOW.  The only place happiness resides.

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. Silver in the Barn - September 30, 2014

And I hope she stays happy for the rest of her days. What a cruel disease for the rest of you to have to endure but you seem to all handle it with grace and humor. Sometimes you just have to laugh, no matter what. Happy Birthday, Minkey.

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

That’s it, Barbara. We don’t have any choice in the matter . . . so we laugh when we can. And sometimes a glimmer of recall on mom’s part surprises us. That’s always a pleasure.

2. Rainee - September 30, 2014

Lovely post Nancy. My Mum and Dad both suffered from dementia and it is sad to watch. Your post was poignant and full of grace 🙂

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

It is sad to no longer have the same history to share . . . but once in a while mom surprises us by remembering something long forgotten. That’s always a happy surprise.

3. suzicate - September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to your mom! So glad you all are able to find a bit of humor in those moments! While it is sad, laughter is good. Living in the now is also good, so many elderly live in the past.

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

I’m convinced mom would not be as content as she is if she remembered all the good times she had with dad over the years. Waking up to perpetual amnesia allows her to enjoy the present without regret about what once was.

4. NancyTex - September 30, 2014

Happy birthday to your mom.
And what a wonderfully positive way to look at her current reality, NH.

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Thanks, NT. I’ve had time to come to grips with her loss of memory ~ I enjoy telling her stories about all the things she and dad experienced in their years together.

And I can tell her the SAME story as many times as I want because it never grows old to her. 😛

5. Jill Weatherholt - September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to your beautiful mother, Nancy!

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Thanks, Jill. It’s still early in Colorado, but I’ll give her a call later to chat a bit about birthdays past and present.

6. valleygrail - September 30, 2014

So challenging. But this is her special day; happy birthday to your mom!

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Thanks, VG. Mom used to be the baker of birthday cakes for the 4 of us and dad. That’s one thing I’ll share with her today.

7. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to your mom! Sounds like she has had a great life and it’s wonderful that you guys live in the Now with her!

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

She did have a great life, Kate ~ singing, guitar, piano, sewing, cooking, gardening, canning, sailing, canoeing, hiking, travel, photography, writing, reading.

Mom and dad’s shared interests that kept them “young” until their mid-70’s when things started to slow down.

8. ericjbaker - September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to your mom! Mine’s hitting the big eight-oh later this month.

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Thanks, Eric. Wish your mom a Happy Birthday from me. She raised a good one ~ hope she has a HOWLING good time!

ericjbaker - September 30, 2014

Ha! I’m sure she will. We scheduled the party for the next full moon.

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

The next full moon falls on BFF’s birthday! Aaaoooohhh!

9. William D'Andrea - September 30, 2014

A Happy Birthday to your mother!
I’m also having memory problems, but not anywhere as severe. My problem is that I can’t remember the things I want to, like people’s names; but I can’t forget the things I don’t want to remember.

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

For most of us, some memory loss is inevitable. Not sure why mom and dad had more memory loss than their elder relatives.

But for now, mom’s memory loss works to her advantage and allows her to be content most of the time.

William D'Andrea - October 2, 2014

I’ve been thinking about this, and it’s made me concerned about you. Since both your parents have had such severe problems, you might be at risk for the same thing yourself. I know you’re a responsible person, and I’m sure you’ve been getting good advice from someone who’s knowledgeable. I certainly don’t want to lose you as a friend.

nrhatch - October 2, 2014

Thanks, William. Actually, my memory is better than any of my siblings. I attribute that to the fact that I’ve been a vegetarian for 17 years. Less cholesterol and plaque in my arteries.

Also, senility doesn’t run in the family. My grandfathers and great uncles reached 90 with their wits intact, as did several great aunts. My mom is an only child, but my dad’s sister, age 84, is fine too.

I’m not sure what environmental contaminant impacted my parents, but I’m fairly certain their mental decline is NOT hereditary or in my genes/DNA.

10. Pix Under the Oaks - September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to your Mom Nancy! Nice to see you at the beach in your photo.. up North?

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Yes, Point Pleasant Beach on the Jersey Shore. One of our favorite places to visit in NJ. My parents had a favorite restaurant there ~ Jack Baker’s Wharfside. Perfect for boat watching. Fantastic corn fritters.

11. Val Boyko - September 30, 2014

I hope she has a lovely birthday … and with memories that you can share with her over again 🙂 I love this conversation and insights into your mom. Happy birthday to her!

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Thanks, Val. Mom’s days flow by in a peaceful stream these days . . . few highs or lows to cause turbulence.

Val Boyko - September 30, 2014

May we all have soft landings at the end of life’s journey … and appreciate the moments that are given to us here.

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Yes . . . a soft landing!

12. brickhousechick - September 30, 2014

How very sweet, Nancy! Happy Birthday to your lovely mom. 🙂

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Thanks, Maria. Hope you’re having a happy day too ~ complete with your WIN of Don’t Touch.

13. katecrimmins - September 30, 2014

Happy birthday to your Mom! My husband’s mother had a mild dementia with almost full long-term memory but little to no short-term. She would ask you the same question several times in the course of a half hour and after you left, she had no memory that you were there. She was happy though, drifting in her memories. I sounds like your Mom’s life is stable and satisfying for her and that’s all the counts.

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Thanks, Kate. It’s interesting how different parts of the brain are impacted. Mom does hang on to some things. She remembers staying here with us 2 years ago . . . but I don’t think she realizes that it was 2 years ago that she moved to Colorado. She still refers to it as a “visit.”

If I have a choice, I’ll keep all my marbles and memories. If not, I probably won’t notice they’ve drifted off into the ether.

katecrimmins - October 1, 2014

My mother-in-law spent years in an assisted living home and thought it was a visit too. Occasionally she would ask when she was going home. We would tell her to enjoy her vacation.

nrhatch - October 1, 2014

Great way to deal with dementia. Re-direction!

14. Grannymar - September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to your mom!

My maternal granny slipped into dementia. Like you we learned to laugh with, rather than at her. There was ‘the man at the foot of the bed who was good to those children, and never put a hand on them.’ She introduced my father as her son, and talked about x or y and if you asked who they were she would reply: “You know her, she was at school with us!” Thankfully she never realised she had dementia.

nrhatch - September 30, 2014

Thanks, GM. I just got off the phone with mom. We talked for 90 minutes. She was pretty “with it” and is looking forward to a Carvel Ice Cream Cake after dinner.

Most of the stories I relay to her sound “vaguely familiar.” When they don’t, she says, “I’ll take your word for it since your memory is better than mine.” Sometimes she thinks my brother is dad’s brother (even though dad only had a sister).

We just adjust the sails depending on how the wind is blowing. And we don’t label her lack of memory as senility or dementia, we just laugh with her at the lapses.

15. Three Well Beings - October 1, 2014

You have a really healthy perspective on your mom’s dementia, Nancy. I think that finding some acceptance provides you and your siblings with better opportunities to be pleased when she makes a real connection around something rather than to be so mired down in feeling the losses and then never sharing a chuckle or laugh together. I think we all hope we hold onto our keen memories, yet when you recount the story of having to tell her that your father has died, there is the question of whether losing hard and painful memories is all negative. It’s just interesting. I am glad she is mostly happy. Were she frightened in her confusion that would be painful for everyone. I hope she had a very happy birthday and felt loved!

nrhatch - October 1, 2014

What a warm and wonderful comment, Debra. I agree. If she were frightened, it would be much harder to deal with. The last few years of my dad’s life, both of my parents were a bit overwhelmed by house and yard maintenance, medical issues, paying bills, fixing meals, etc. Now, my mom has “no worries.” She gets up, fixes her breakfast, gets dressed, and takes her other meals with my brother and whatever family is around. Instead of hearing stress in her voice, I sense a deep abiding calm.

She did joke with my sister that she wishes she was turning 58 instead of 85. :mrgreen:

16. jannatwrites - October 3, 2014

In a way, the loss of memories is sad, but I like how you bring up the bright side – not dwelling on what is gone and enjoying each moment. (This made me think of an interaction my brother had with our grandma, who was an avid Suns fan. She was in the hospital and had missed a game, so she asked my brother if Suns won. “Yes, Grandma, they won,” he answered. Some time later in the conversation, she halted and asked, “Oh, did the Suns win the game?” Again, my brother answered, “Yes, they won.” She asked a couple more times, and he patiently answered each time. When he left, he looked at my mom and said, “I wonder what she would’ve done if they’d lost!”)

nrhatch - October 3, 2014

That’s a great story. And it does make me wonder what she would have done if they’d lost. At least she remembered her interest in the Suns AND the fact that she’d missed a game.

Mom’s memory loss is sad, but we’re glad that she is not. She did joke when my sister talked to her that she’d rather be turning 58 than 85. 😎

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