It was my mother’s birthday today. I am not at liberty to divulge her age, unless I mention that it is 21. I don’t mind doing this because (a) this means she will not have to have me killed and (b) if she is 21, it makes me not even a foetus, but something closer to a quark. I am virtually gaining immortality by doing nothing.
I know as one gets older, many people feel less and less that they need to celebrate, and more that they should be feeling sorry for themselves, but I think that they have this the wrong way around. When you are younger, you look forward to getting a year older so you can smoke and have sex, then drive, then drink and vote – although hopefully not all at the same time or the electoral system would be in even bigger a mess than it is already. In your twenties you are legal and thin but poor, in your thirties you are hopefully less poor but still young enough to have fun while being old enough to have an opinion that is listened to. Then people start getting all upset in their forties and give up on the good times. They start regretting the years they have lived and thinking that they have one year of life less to live now, so they either sulk or go mad.
I say sod that. I say, just enjoy every birthday as another year you have successfully survived.
In the last couple of weeks, two of my colleagues have lost mums, either their own or their partner’s. In both of these cases, the mums were aged and had been suffering from dementia, but that did not diminish the sadness of their passing at all, because things orbit around a mum and their loss will have meaning.
I actually bought my mum’s birthday present ages ago when I was shopping online and came across something I knew she wanted. I added it to the order and then I had the problem of whether to hold onto it for months, and risk her buying it herself, or just giving it to her so she could start enjoying it straight away. I chose the latter but that left me with nothing to give her today. My dad was going to his group today and she did not want to make a fuss and change that, so the plan was that they would go out the day before and have her birthday lunch.
That was the plan, but unfortunately my dad’s short term memory is buggered and he forgot.
So last night, after I spoke to a deflated mum, who had not been taken for a birthday lunch, I ended up hitting the shops for some food I could take over and cook for dinner tonight and getting her a simple but elegant smart phone, that she could use for texting or calling us (she has been using an old 2G non smart one of my father’s that is quite clunky to navigate, and has tiny keys).
I felt a bit nervous as I swapped her number and credit over to her new phone in the shop. I wanted to give it to her all set up, but it rendered her current phone a brick without telling her. I comforted myself with the knowledge that my mother is like leaking water when it comes to communication, she will always find a way and burst through your ceiling in spite of your expectations.
All the same, when I found a gap between appointments at work today, I popped over to deliver it. She opened it and I quickly ran through how to turn it on, and where the message buttons and the telephone keypad were.
She was genuinely surprised and stroked its smooth screen lovingly, declaring it quite the nicest present she had ever had.
By the time I left this evening after a slap up meal, followed by a posh french fruit flan, she was across the basics and threw me completely by saying that she had worked out some of the functionality by reading the manual. Huh? The Manual? Who would have thought of that? My mother, that is who. Like I said, she is a demon when it comes to communication. It is one of the secrets of her success. I have unleashed her onto the information superhighway and she is doing to ride it like a natural.