09:26:53 am on
Tuesday 21 Sep 2021

A Not Happy Birthday
AJ Robinson

Source: The Mirror

There was a time, it now seems a thousand years ago, that I could say my family had at least one birthday in every month of the year. I was oh so proud of myself for remembering all of them.

Anchors to help my memory.

For some I had a little memory trick. The birthday of my brother David is the day before Pearl Harbor. For my brother Greg, his birthday was the day before D-Day. Christina and Jenni had birthdays on the 5th and 19th of January, respectively. That five-nineteen is the birthday of my daughter, Alexa.

Then there’s my sister-in-law Anne. Her birthday is 17 May; that was last Monday. In in the past, I was a bit remiss in remembering her birthday.

Some years I sent a card or called, but many of her birthdays slipped through the cracks of my memory. Not this year. I thought about calling, but I was a little worried about being too intrusive into her life.

Greg, her husband and my brother, has only been gone a few weeks. I didn’t want to risk opening the water works.

Fortunately, these days there are a plethora of media avenues available to me. I sent a text. Nothing too long or sappy; merely a few choice words to let her know I was thinking of her and wished her well.

She wrote back to say that Jenni was with her and had brought little Henri to see his grandma. The kids were going to take her to dinner that night, too. I was happy, yet also felt a twinge of sadness. I knew the meal would be a rather subdued affair.

The family pitched in.

Everybody in the family made a point of touching base with Anne that day. Alexa sent her a picture of her cats being playful. It cheered her up a little.

Anne texted me to say she’d been to see my mom over the weekend and that, although not very depressed, it was clear mom was not improving much. It remains to be seen how she will progress in the coming week, and how well Anne will deal with her demons. It certainly doesn’t help that Greg’s seventy-second birthday is coming up in June.

Years ago, following the passing Steve, I made a point of calling my mom on his next birthday. I don’t see me doing that this year for a myriad of reasons. I can’t bring myself to remind my mom of the loss of another son.

Oh, I know she’ll think of Greg on that day, but somehow calling her seems to me to be rubbing salt in her wounds. Also, these days, calling her is quite hard. Her strength is gone. Her mind cloudy. Her hearing is fading. She doesn’t follow everything I say. She can’t hold the phone for long. I do have to repeat myself a great deal.

Yet, I must give the old girl credit. When we’re able to talk she always asks about the family: Penny, Jackie, Damian, Alexa, and Jo Ann. More importantly, she remembers things. Although I’m glad of that, these days I do see it as a double-edged.

She recalls so many details of her long life and when her thoughts focus on Steve and Greg she can’t help but weep. I would imagine Anne went through the same for a portion of her birthday. I can only hope the presence of her children and grandchildren helped to ease her grief.

Only time will tell.

It’s May now, which means my mom’s ninety-sixth birthday is six months away. I wonder, given the state of her health, will she make it to that milestone? Only time will tell.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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