My Mom turned eighty this year. We didn’t celebrate much on the day itself, because I had to go to work, and since it was just before Passover my brother couldn’t come in person – though he made sure to send lots of gifts. When I went to work that day, I really wanted to whine and complain to someone that I couldn’t take my Mommy out for pancakes (because breakfast for lunch or dinner is her idea of Nirvana), but I didn’t tell anyone. In a way, I felt like if I didn’t tell anyone, and avoided the official celebration of the big birthday, the evil eye wouldn’t be able to find us.
I’m not usually a superstitious person, but it comes up when I’m faced with things I can’t control.
My grandfather, Mom’s father, died at 80. And her mother died at 85, after hip surgery.
I guess I figured that as long as Mom was still in her seventies, everything would be okay. But eighty?
Mom had a rough time last summer, with hip surgery, and hip revision surgery, and a third hospital stay when the two surgeries and sleeping on only one side for months, led to her left lung filling up with fluid. Pretty much every day of last summer was filled with anxiety that I would lose my Mommy.
But then things got better. She recovered from the surgeries, and found better doctors, and committed to physical therapy, and even started to take daily walks on her own without any nagging from me. So I focused on other things for a while and forgot to be anxious about her health. I barely even registered the big birthday coming up, until it arrived and the number just walloped me.
I rely so much on my mom – for my emotional health, for practical advice and support, for dinner. And I want to celebrate her successes, and her obstinate and energetic love of life, and I want to celebrate how lucky I am to have the mother I have, but I’m so afraid of what will happen if I say the word eighty out loud.
I was in a bad place, but then I started to comfort myself with the fact that Mom has an aunt, her father’s sister, who is now 107 years old and still clever and opinionated and loving; and my mom is the youngest of three sisters, all still alive and kicking. So maybe the evil eye isn’t interested in our family anymore; maybe we’ve had enough trouble for both of our lifetimes.
And then I heard Mom cough. It was a random cough, probably because the trees on both sides of our building are filled with allergens and we had the fans on, but it sent me back to last summer when she was struggling to breathe. The fear is always there in the back of my mind, asking me if I should worry when she forgets that she already told me the story about the friend I don’t even know, or if I should worry when she gets tired, or grumpy, or when she isn’t up to walking the dogs with me (more often than not, I’m the one who’s not up to walking the dogs, but that’s a whole other story).
I’m torn. Do I tiptoe around this birthday and just pretend that Mom is turning seventy-nine every birthday from now on? Or should we celebrate BIG this year, and go on trips and eat pancakes for dinner, and buy enough books and fabric and yarn that it will take her twenty years just to organize all of it?
But I think the best idea is what Mom’s cousin is doing: buying expensive concert tickets for her 107 year old mother, months in advance, to guilt her into sticking around. Because, really, what kind of mother would want her child to waste so much money?
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Happy belated birthday to your mother! I love that she has reached another milestone year. That’s a wonderful thing. I secretely love it whenever anyone has made a big fuss about my milestone birthdays.
Thank you! Me too!
Wishing your mom lots of pancakes and doggy walks.
Happy belated birthday to your mom! May she be around to celebrate many more birthdays!
Big celebration, she only turns 80 once 😉
My advice, celebrate your mother in style on her 80th. Go on trips, eat pancakes, buy books and fabric and yarn, just live life to its fullest. I say this as a 77-year old with an 83-year old husband. Enjoy your mother every day! Happy birthday to her!!
I used to play Mahjongg with a woman who was 83 then, she once told me she didn’t feel it because her daughter kept telling her she was 48 on one side and 35 on the other. Maybe you could think of your mom that way! Happy belated!! Oh, and my mom turned 80 this year, too.
I love that! Thank you! And happy birthday to your mom too!
Happy birthday to your Mom! We celebrated my Mum’s 80th by taking her out for dinner………… to a restaurant where the family were waiting for her. Everyone got up to sing Happy Birthday and clap even though they weren’t in our party. It was a lovely day……… until my niece ruined it by screaming like a banshee across the room at her 4 year old daughter who was playing up. The way she was dressed was also inappropriate IMO, more of her out of her clothes than in them. Still. Mum was happy and that’s what mattered.
Thank you! I’m so glad your mom had a great day!
It was a wonderful day for her. Happy memories for all concerned I think.
Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate! Every day is a gift, and every birthday should be celebrated!
That sounds awesome! Thank you!
Happy belated birthday to your Mom, Rachel. Celebrate every last year, like a badge of honour. My Mom died at 52 and my Dad at 65. I am almost 70 and feeling guilty for it, but each year on this mortal coil deserves a celebration. Allan
I’m so sorry for your early losses. I am very lucky; I just want to continue being lucky!
Happy Birthday to your mom! May she celebrate many more birthdays with you.
Yes, take your mother out for a meal, but I like the idea of concert tickets, too–and yes, books and fabrics and yarn to keep her going. I’m always glad when anyone remembers my birthday at all. I’ll be 79 this year, and I am lucky to have had two hip replacements in the past year with a lot less tsuris than your mother had; they’ve given me a new lease on life, and I confidently expect to make it to 100 and beyond! (I’ll need to in order to accomplish everything I have planned, especially if I keep procrastinating.)
That sounds amazing!
Happy Birthday to your mom. Birthday candles on a stack of pancakes sounds heavenly! 🎂🥞
It does! Thank you!
So heartfelt. You moistened my eyes. Love the charming ending. Wishing you and your mother many more happy years together.
They say it is a big bonus when you reach 80. My has just turned 94 three days ago.
Sorry, I mean my mother.
Happy belated Birthday to your Mom. These doggies are so sweet. Anita
No tip-toeing aound. Celebrate the birthday. It’s always better to have a birthday than to have no more. Happy birthday to your mother!
Try this policy. Celebrate every birthday big time, but don’t count them. Happy Birthday to your mother.
Sounds great! Thank you!
Age is just a number and those plateaus do shake us up a bit, I know because I have had many of them, but as they pass we just then look for the next one. Bless you for looking after your mom, and the love that I see there and bless those dogs for looking after you, the love of a dog is unshakable and I have hugged mine when times seem too much to face. Hang on, we are also thinking about you and keep up with your joys of success and sorrows of the down times.
Thank you so much!
I can relate, my dad turned 80 last year. We made the amount of fuss he wanted to make, steak dinner in a fancy restaurant 😊
Happy birthday to your Mum and I hope you get to enjoy her company for many more years
Me too! Thank you!
Happy 80th birthday to your mother. 107 years old that is amazing. I love your dog pictures.
Happy Birthday to your mom, and many, many more! 🎂
Happy birthday to your mother. With another 107-year-old relative, I hope longevity is a feature of your Mum’s life.
Me too! Thank you!
I didn’t tell anyone when my 80th birthday was going to be, but some of my students found out anyway. https://operasandcycling.com/conversation-and-more-b2/
Belated congratulations to your mum, Rachel. When my mum was 80, we took her to the famous Ritz Hotel in London for ‘High Tea’. She loved the experience so much, she talked about it until the day she died. (At 87) She had seven years of that memory, so it was definitely worth it.
Best wishes, Pete.
Thank you! I’m so glad your mum had such a beautiful memory!
Whatever you decide to do, it definitely should include pancakes..
I agree. I’m in the pancakes at every opportunity group as well. Happy birthday to your Mum.
Excellent. (Happy (ate) (oh) ) 🙂 I like the advance concert tickets idea. Perhaps we should all try that after a fashion. I’m not that far shy of (ate) (oh) myself. Is Taylor Swift bookable yet for my (nine) (oh)? 🙂 🙂 🙂
Ha! She probably is!!!!!
Your ‘anxiety’ about your mom turning 80 isn’t a rare feeling. My mom died just over two weeks shy of her 70th birthday and my older brother died before his 65th birthday. But my grandmother lived until she was 87 and my dad until he was 82. Although we’re not, my older brother and I were often taken as twins until we got into our tweens, so I was anxious about making it to my 65th. I’ll be turning 67 later this year. It’s good for you to think about how your life will change when your mom is no longer around, but don’t spend so much time counting the days ahead that you forget about the days here and now!
The dogs and I voted, and the winner is: Celebrate big AND get those tickets(and give Cricket and Ellie more treats)!
Cricket and Ellie agree!!!!
Celebrate the birthday Rachel! You will look back and regret it if you hide under the bed.
I will do my best!
I hope you get to give your mum a great belated birthday celebration. I’m sure she’ll love it & be pleased you’ve arrived pancakes etc around Passover! What could be more fun than a birthday? Lots more birthday happenings 🙂
Rachel just try to enjoy the fact your Mom is still here. It’s a blessing, I lost my Mom when she turned 60. Wishing you and Mom nothing but the best ❤️💝🤗
Cliche though it is, every day is a gift. Celebrate with your mom now, later, and often. You both deserve it!
Happy Birthday to your Mum.xx
And wow, a 107 year old relative. Your mum’s a spring chicken really. Xx
Happy birthday to your mom! It’s hard to watch parents age sometimes. I’d say take your celebration cues from her. Does she want something flashy or more subdued? Btw, I love your mom’s cousin! Honestly, she has a point. Moms hate their kids wasting money!
So smart, right?!
Happy Birthday to your mom and so happy she’s on the mend. Blessings! 💞
Happy birthday to your Mom! Buy the tickets and celebrate.
On my sister’s last birthday she was the age our mom was when she died. My mother-in-law spent twenty years saying “I’m older than my mom was when she died. I shouldn’t be here anymore.” That’s not how it works even though our brains kept help but think of these things on the milestone birthdays.
It’s so hard to ignore the expected in favor of the good.
I understand, but I’m the eternal optimist.
wow…great ..wish her from my part.
Wishing joy for your mom. Liking your considerateness. For your decision-making process, I hope you do what you feel and think is best. If you can’t do what your dog suggests (doing what has to be done), I hope you at least do what you can.
Happy Birthday to your Mom, and yes, celebrate! Enjoy every day as it comes.
It’s hard, but just trust God. He knows the number of our days and the number of hairs on our heads – and there is nothing we can do to change either. God bless you and your mom as you celebrate having her every day!
My mother turned 79 last month, so she’ll be turning 80 next year. It’s scary! 70 already felt like a lot, but now we’re really dealing with big numbers. My grandmother passed away in 1996 at the age of 82… Ultimately, it all depends on how the heart holds up. Who knows, it could last a long time even if the brain doesn’t function at all due to Alzheimer’s. That’s a scary thought too. I remember what my grandmother was like in her final days. She wasn’t really present in this world anymore. That’s inevitably going to happen to my mother too at some point.
My mother’s hip was also operated on 3 years ago, and after a long hospital stay, she did not return home but ended up in a nursing home. It’s sad how long hospital stays can institutionalize the elderly.
This is all so scary!
Go on trips and eat pancakes for dinner, and buy enough books and fabric and yarn. Definitely ^_^
A belated “Happy Birthday” to your mom. Celebrate every day with her, but accept she, like everybody else, will one day pass away! This from another 80 year old.
I hope your mum had a happy birthday with lots of pancakes!
She did! Thank you!
I can only speak for myself from my own mother’s hospice perspective, Rachel. It’s a gut wrenching time for me but I need to continue my life as normally as possible. If I was the one suffering, I would not want others to cow down to me out of guilt or pity.
I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.
Spreading Jewish with her has also not helped. Thanks for your concern.