Last week we were in NY visiting my side of the family for my birthday week. Yes, my birthday lasts all week; an indulgent tradition that my husband hasn't seemed to grasp even after seven years of sharing my birthday with me. I think the tradition started out of a childhood greediness for attention. I believe it continues out of necessity. Something has always trumped my birthday. Either I am sick, someone very close to me is sick, dies, or I had finals, tests, or something always went wrong on my actual birthday. Therefore, the rest of the birthday week is there to make up for whatever happened on the actual day.
This year I spent almost seven hours in silence in the car on my birthday. Andrew was engrossed in a marathon-long history lecture on his ipod. Isaac was being remarkably good in the backseat. And I was mentally preparing myself for what awaited me at home in NY; seeing my grandma laying in a nursing home. Two years prior I was shaking hands with strangers and hearing "I'm so sorry for your loss" when my grandpa died. And last year is a blur, but I'm almost positive that Andrew and I fought on my birthday. Don't worry, as I'm writing this I am completely aware that I'm starting to sound like an episode of Bethany Ever After or whatever that show is. Pick an emotional reality star and that's me on my birthday- minus the fake boobs and great thighs.
Anyway, on Monday 5/2/11, we went to see my grandma. To see her laying hooked up to oxygen and a catheter, face sunken, lips withered was incredibly sobering. She was visibly weaker than the last time I saw her, and the realization that she's really not going to live forever hit somewhere in my chest and rose up to my throat every time I looked at her. Yet the few hours we spent with her each day we were there managed to be very special. Isaac did not disappoint us with his usual charm. He sang nursery rhymes repetitvely the way he does when he gets stuck- like a high pitched, plastic, Fisher Price record player. And I caught grandma mouthing the words along with him, her eyes closed from sheer exhaustion. He managed to stage a game of hide and seek in her very small room. When we ran out of hiding places in about 5 minutes, he had Buzz and Woody play the game as a type of puppet show for her. She loved every minute, but the best moment of the day was when the nurse walked in and asked Isaac how old he was and he answered the question correctly for the first time ever. "I'm fwee years old." My reaction was the same as if he had recited the Declaration of Independence. And grandma got to witness this little victory for us. However, I think the best part of that day for her was when Isaac looked right at her and said, "Good-bye great grandma! Love you!" Her eyes were definitely open then and very, very bright. Isaac managed to keep me on the sunny side while in NY. His progress continues to make me eternally grateful, and I'm happy to report that grandma is looking a little better this week. What a great birthday gift.