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!
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.
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.
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.