(This photo taken ~1980, the other one 2016)
Today is my mom’s 90th birthday. There is so much I want to tell her and explain to her, but my mom has Alzheimer’s. Notice I said she “has” this horrific disease, and I did not say she “suffers” from it, because I do not believe she is suffering. In her own quiet and very sweet way, she is dealing with it and appears to be in a happy, or may I say, content place. I’m pretty sure her condition might be harder on me and those that love her than on her, but I also know that my mom would have never wanted the final years of her life to be like this. Above all else, I want to thank and pay tribute to my mom. She is unable to read this blog, nor is she even able to understand what I want to tell her. She might not even know who I am, but I want the world to know what a wonderful woman she was and still is.
She taught me more than she will ever know, particularly, how to be a survivor and a fighter. My mom is a DES-mother, which made me her DES-daughter. We both had cancer at very young ages caused by the totally ineffective drug given to my mom during her pregnancy with me….my mom had breast cancer 51 years ago at the young age of 39 in 1966. Treatment for cancer at that time was nothing less than barbaric. My mom underwent a radical mastectomy, which I am sure was quite painful…however, when she came home from the hospital, she never once complained or ever acted sick or played the “why me” or the "cancer" card. In fact, it was quite the opposite, and she was back to being 100% mom in every sense of the word.
So, where did I learn about survival? Who has always been my inspiration? I learned from her that cancer did not have to be a death sentence (although it could have been for both of us). What an experience for us back then in 1966 and 1977, when no one even said the word cancer. So, just about 10 years after my mom’s diagnosis, when I was diagnosed at age 21, I knew exactly what I had to do. I wanted to live, and she was my role model and inspiration every step of the way. To those of you who knew my mom, she was the ultimate “Jewish mother”. She was selfless to a fault. She cooked, cleaned, car-pooled, volunteered everywhere, worked as a geriatric social worker, and she did it all quite seamlessly. She was never a complainer, and seemed to love everyone and everyone appeared to love Edna.
And so today, on her 90th birthday, I wish more than anything I could talk to “my old mom”, the one I laughed with, talked to every day, shopped with and with whom I shared recipes and secrets. She had so may little life lessons for me….much of what I learned was unspoken, but I learned by watching her give to her community, her friends and most importantly, her family, especially to my dad, “her Billsy” with whom she was married to for 65 years. I wish I could be half of the caregiver my mom was. But, life doesn’t always turn out the way you think or expect it to. I’m sad that I live so far from her. Luckily, she is in a good place, with wonderful people taking care of her.
Happy 90th Birthday, Mom. You have lived a long and meaningful life. You were and still are the funniest person I know, and you are beautiful both inside and out. You have touched everyone you have ever met in the most wonderful and positive way. I miss you and I love you more than you can imagine. Yesterday I marched for a better world for everyone....then I watched 20th Century Woman...a movie with a DES story line.....all I want to do is call you today to talk about the March and the movie. So sad that I can't, but I will call to wish you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY.