Every November 18th for as long as I can remember, I’d purchase some type of cake to celebrate my beloved Aunt Frannie’s birthday with her. Today, November 18, 2013, marks the first of her birthdays we can no longer celebrate together, as it’s been almost exactly 3 months since her death. BUT It doesn’t mean we didn’t celebrate it. I took Mom to the doctor today, almost a traditional appointment on this day with her neurologist. Our usual routine was to go to the doctor’s office in Chevy Chase, then drive the short distance to Silver Spring to have lunch and dessert, or just birthday cake with Frannie. It was almost bribery of sorts because even though Mom loves this doctor, she hates to get in the car to actually Go! I’d always remind her that there would be cake afterwards. Her response then was, “Ok, let’s go!”.
I wondered how today would go. I was immediately sad when I woke up this morning, knowing there’d be no cake at the end of the doctor’s visit. When Mom and I got in the car, I asked her if she knew what today was. She said no. I told her that it was November 18th and asked if that day meant anything to her. She said “it’s someone’s birthday. I know it’s not mine because mine is February 18th!”. Yay Mom, that’s right!! She then said, “I think it’s Fran’s birthday!”. I wasn’t sure what to say. I was hoping she wouldn’t ask, “are we going for birthday cake now?”. Thankfully she didn’t ask that. Instead, she asked if we could sing happy birthday to Frannie. I said “yes!”. I think we sang it LOUDLY about 10 times, but that was OK with me!! It was one of the times that I was really happy with her constant repetition!! It was the best rendition of Happy Birthday Ever!!!
We also survived the trip to the doctor without a hitch! Mom couldn’t answer any of the questions, and said her usual “I don’t know what I’m doing” constantly, but that was ok too. We had given Dr. Coerver a copy of my book on our last visit. So today she told me how much she loved it, how honored she was to be mentioned in the book AND how helpful she knew it would be for others. I was thrilled!
On the ride back from the doctor I showed Mom the book I made for her great-granddaughter Kendal’s birthday, coming up in a few weeks. She read it out loud of course and enjoyed looking at all the pictures in the book of me, Tim and Kendal. She really was into the book and I was pleasantly surprised by how the short book held her attention for almost the entire 45 minute ride home. All of a sudden, Mom proclaimed “she looks smart, like you!” When I asked who she was talking about she pointed to Kendal’s picture in the book. I explained that Kendal was going to be enrolling in Montessori school in January and how excited I was about that. I didn’t expect Mom to remember that my sister worked in Montessori for almost 10 years prior to going to Head Start, and of course she didn’t given that she no longer remembers she had another daughter.
Mom seemed excited about Kendal and school. She said she’d make Kendal a dress for her first day of school just like she did for mine. I told her we’d love that. She said she’d pick out material soon and so as not to wait til the last minute. I smiled. “Make sure she reads all the time!”, Mom insisted. “We will”, I assured her. What I’m most excited about is that Tim and I have chosen to help with the cost Kendal’s education for as long as we can. My Mom was a stickler for education, for reading and for learning all you could, no matter the cost. She felt any sacrifice made for a great education was worth it! I feel exactly the same way! Interestingly, at my brother-in-law Butch’s funeral this past Saturday, many of the folks who spoke about him shared how much Butch stressed the importance of a good education, and how they proceeded to get their education because of Butch’s encouragement. I was impressed, and it was certainly a fact about Butch that I didn’t know.
I am positive that I wouldn’t be the person I am today, nor where I am career-wise, had it not been for my education made possible by the sacrifice of my Mom, and (in my high school years) my grandparents. I know that whatever help we can provide for Kendal’s education will be more than worth it. It’s one of the best ways I know to honor my Mom, and Frannie, my second biggest cheerleader!
So on this November 18th I say, Rest in Peace Butch, Happy Birthday Frannie and Thanks for everything Mom, Love you!