My mom deserves an award and I tell her that every time I talk to her, which is daily. Today I wished her a Happy 98th Birthday. I’m so inspired by her resilience. She broke her hip on August 24, 2020; had hip replacement surgery the next day; and returned to her assisted living community on August 27. After six weeks on the skilled nursing floor, she made a full recovery and now walks without limping thanks to a lift on her shoe. She made the decision to move from her two-bedroom apartment on the 14th floor into a studio on the assisted living floor.
No more panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline. Now she looks at the trees and the cars driving up and down Post Street. Yet, whenever I call her, she answers with a cheery voice and the first thing out of her mouth is: “Hello honey, how are you?” She’s still interested in what I did during the day and continues to ask “What else?” until I’ve run out of stories!
“You’re such a trooper,” I say and she answers, “what choice do I have?”
Prior to COVID, mom was playing Scrabble, Rummikub, dominoes, and cribbage five days a week. Now her days are carbon copies filled by doing crossword puzzles, playing Solitaire, and eating her meals in her room. Since early March, the residents have been required to stay in their rooms, and meals were delivered in a bag on the doorknob. On the Assisted Living floor, they do bring her meals into her room on a tray.
She does physical therapy three times a week and a staff member visits her for some socializing and games three times a week. In between solving two crossword puzzles a day and playing Solitaire, she “snoozes,” looks out the window, and finally turns on the TV at 5 o’clock when she enjoys her nightly shot of Canadian Club whiskey on the rocks. She’s been enjoying that ritual for decades and always toasts to my dad.
Mom continues to be a role model for me. She gracefully and independently carried on after losing my dad and then my brother. She’s accepting of her situation and rarely complains. I feel so blessed to have such a thoughtful mom.
This year I wanted to make my mom’s 98th birthday a little special since I wouldn’t be able to celebrate with her in person. I wrote to all my cousins and friends who know my mom and asked them to help me surprise her by sending her a card. I wrote: “You know my mom – she’s a very modest woman. But if ever she deserved an award, it’s this year – 2020!” (And so do millions of others.)
My family and friends came through for her. She received about 50 cards and many phone calls. We’ve all had to find creative ways to celebrate important milestones this year. I hope this idea inspires you to create something special for your loved ones until we can return to in-person celebrations like we enjoyed prior to COVID.