Four years ago today was the last time that I think my mother recognized me. It was her birthday, her 62nd, and she had been slowly dying of the lung cancer that was diagnosed 5 years before. She fought so hard. She made it through that day, and then declined precipitously and passed away three days later.
I remember sitting by her bedside on her birthday, praying an entire rosary. She could not see me, but she responded to my words by moving her eyebrows. I took that to be a sign that she knew I was there, but then again, it could have been gas.
There she lay, all 60 pounds of what was left of her. Slowly starving, barely breathing. She'd been like that since just after Labor Day, and my father was falling apart, waiting for her to die.
In the four years since her birthday, my kids have grown up to be wonderful children. My marriage is much better than it was. My father is starting to move on. The sad image of her in that bed is fading, being replaced by memories of the glorious mother I remember her to be.
Happy Birthday, Mom.