Beatus Natalis Matrem Suam: Reflections of an Upcoming Birthday

My mom, age 15, circa 1943.

Hello again, Dear Reader. It’s now past noon on this Wednesday, October 14, 2020, and here in New Hometown, Florida it is shaping up to be a warm “fall” day. Presently, the temperature is 85˚F (30˚C) with mostly sunny skies. With humidity at 69% and the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 7 MPH (11 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 93˚F (34˚C). That’s still sort of “early summer” rather than “early fall” (a season that I experienced in Sevilla, Spain 32 years ago), but it’s more comfortable than days when the heat index is in the 100-degrees (Fahrenheit) mark.

If my Remington PF7300 F3 Comfort Series Foil Shaver arrives at a decent time (according to Amazon, it’s Out for Delivery), I might just go for a walk this afternoon. It won’t be a long walk; my pair of good walking shoes is worn out after 10 years’ worth of hard use, and the replacement pair I ordered from Amazon on Monday isn’t scheduled to arrive until Friday. I have other shoes, of course, but they aren’t designed for walking outdoors for long distances. So I think I’ll just go to the park with the benches that I visited this weekend and retrace my steps back to the house. I don’t want to lose my bearings, and I don’t want to be seen using Google Maps on my smartphone to get directions. That would be so embarrassing, not to mention suspicious!

10.17.28:

In the Land of Ago, meaning before 2010, this was usually a more-or-less happy time for me because my mother’s birthday (October 17) was not far away. My half-sister Vicky and I usually set aside our differences in order to celebrate the occasion, although in Mom’s later years – and especially during her last two years – Vicky got into the habit of competing with me in the gifting department. Since she worked as a nurse till her last place of employment – the late and unlamented Metropolitan Hospital in Miami – closed early in 2015 – she could afford to buy expensive and elaborate gifts. I tended to go for simple and practical presents, or at least ones that reflected my knowledge of what Mom liked or didn’t like.

The author and his mother, circa 1964.

In good times – and I have to admit that we did have good times as a family – this was only a minor irritant. Later, during the five years that Mom was confined to a hospital-style bed in what had once been the guest bedroom, Vicky’s game of Let’s-See-You-Top-This with the birthday presents, flowers, and balloons became yet another source of conflict in a cornucopia of conflicts.

But…yes. In the bygone Era of Good (or Semi-Good) Feelings, my mother’s birthday was an occasion that was, if not 100% full of joy, at least marked by amity and goodwill towards the woman who had brought Vicky and me into this world. Sometimes we’d go out to dinner at a restaurant (although, for the life of me, I can’t recall the last time we did that. Probably in the 2000s?), and, less frequently, at Vicky’s apartment somewhere in Westchester.

A family photo, circa 1986-1988. Mom got rid of the deer skin on the living room floor sometime in the late 1990s.

Most of the time, though, we’d have dinner at what was Mom’s (and for a while, my) townhouse in East Wind Lake Village. Sometimes Mom would cook – of the three of us, Mom had the best culinary skills; once I learned how to cook, I became the second-best cook, but only after Mom got sick a decade ago – and other times Vicky would either cook something in her apartment or get take out from a restaurant.

After dinner, we’d all adjourn upstairs to the master bedroom and watch a movie or TV show on Mom’s TV. In the 1990s, the playback device would be – of course – a VCR. After 2000, it would be a DVD player. We would usually have a good time, although Vicky’s habit of talking throughout an entire film often annoyed Mom and me.

After 2010, though, I can’t recall any happy celebrations of my mother’s birthday. The five birthdays – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 – that my mom got to observe while she was still alive were memorable not because they were joyful, but because they were forced, cheerless affairs.

Now, of course, Mom’s birthday – for me, at least – is one of those dates when I have to try and accentuate the positive rather than the negative. I would love it if I could do that, but this October 17 will be the sixth (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020) recurrence since her death, and I can’t help thinking that my mother died a little less than three months before her 87th birthday.

And it doesn’t help matters that (a) I am going through a breakup that I didn’t want (but in retrospect was inevitable) and (b) that I can’t visit my mom’s ashes on her birthday, at least not without having to take a bus back to Miami, finding a place to stay  for a few days without incurring more credit card debt, and getting a ride to Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery, which is not far from the townhouse we used to own.

I have till Saturday to adjust my mental attitude and try to celebrate my Mom’s 92nd birthday with a modicum of cheer. But, in all honesty, I think it will not be easy.  

Mom and me on the beach at Marco Island, on the Gulf of Mexico coast of Florida.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

5 thoughts on “Beatus Natalis Matrem Suam: Reflections of an Upcoming Birthday

    1. My mom was probably the nicest, noblest, and wisest person I ever knew. She was far from perfect…I mean, no human being ever is flawless…and we had conflicts (I have yet to meet a person who never disobeyed a parent)…but in the end, she was my mother. And I loved her dearly.

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  1. My mom died on the morning of her 80th birthday. We had made the decision to disconnect life support a few days earlier, and the doctor said that it would only be a few hours before she would be gone. She stayed with us for another four days. My mom had always placed an inordinate amount of importance on milestones, so we figured that Mom had decided to wait for that particular milestone before letting go. That, and it wouldn’t do to show up early to the surprise birthday party that was undoubtedly waiting for her in heaven, 😉

    Anyway, just a few days later when I was at work, one of my coworkers said, and I quote, “How cool that she died on her birthday!” I did not moderate the fury in my voice, “No, it’s NOT ‘cool’. My mom DIED. YOU still have YOUR mom. I DON’T, and that’s not ‘COOL’.” Another coworker warned her to stay away from me for awhile, because he knew that I would not be responsible for my words or actions after that. I still haven’t forgiven her, and I have no intention of ever doing so, and it’s been four and a half years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t blame you for not forgiving your coworker for that utterly thoughtless comment. I would have reacted in a similar fashion to a remark like that.

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time not just to read my post, but to add your memory of your own beloved mom’s passing.

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