Yesterday was my birthday. And for the first time in as long as I can remember, my day didn’t include an early morning call from my mother. She had a long tradition of, upon hearing me answer “Hello?”, carefully singing the Happy Birthday song over the phone.

My mother has Alzheimer’s. This was just one of those many little differences I notice as time goes by and the disease takes its toll. Since I didn’t want the day to pass without contact with her, I called her in the evening. After a few hints about the date and what significance it might have within our family, she remembered. “It is your birthday!” she announced. When I sensed what might come next, that she might feel badly about not remembering, I switched the attention to her.

We reminisced about what an exciting day it had been in her life. She remembered how she had been hoping for a baby girl since she had a young son at home, and how special it had been to bring home a new baby. She went on about a few more details… a clear example of long term memory trumping short term.

Birthday celebrations are fine, but for this one it was nice to turn the tables and make my mother feel happy and special… making it her day.