My Birthday Eve

Tomorrow, October 18th, is my birthday and it was always a day that Mother and I saw as being ‘our’ day. We celebrated it in our own little way, for example, for years and years and years she made me a walnut coffee cake with an ever-increasing number of candles but it’s a cake that I’ve certainly never been able to make to the same taste, even though I have the recipe. I think she must have had some magic touch or extra ingredient that she added!

This will be my seventh birthday since Mother died in May 2009 and it is certainly a lot easier than the first one without her. I went on a 13 mile walk for charity that day to try and make the day matter. It was a good idea but I was a bit of an emotional and physical wreck before, during and after the walk as I wasn’t very fit and was heavily involved in caring for my father who was also grief-stricken and frail but who was totally behind my decision to go on the walk ( That was the last birthday I shared with him and we had a good laugh about the walk and all it involved!)

Seven years on, I’ve learned to be prepared for a surge of memories that surround all the birthdays that I shared with Mother. Today, I bought snowdrop bulbs to plant in her honour tomorrow (as well as Dutch Master daffodil bulbs for Dad). I also booked a ticket for a musical show in Waterford’s Theatre Royal for tonight. It was the magnificent Two Brothers,  Vladimir and Anton Jablokov, playing their violins with heart, passion and brotherly instinct.

Mother was never far from my mind as I bathed in the music. It suddenly dawned on me that at that time 58 years ago, she would have been in the little nursing home in Tramore, just down the road from where we lived, waiting for my arrival.

Father was at home with my sister (6) and my brother (3) and I regret now that I never  asked Mother very much about that night. I was born at 12.20am.

As I drove home from Waterford to Tramore this evening, I stopped at the house where Father would have been minding the other two and took note of the very short distance between the house and the nursing home. The tide was well in tonight and there was a lovely whispering from the waves when I opened the car window. I hope Mother had the sound of the sea to help her through the labour pains.

I had a root through a few old photo albums when I got home and found this photo of my brother and sister which I strongly suspect was taken around the time I was born:

My Sibs
My Sibs

The photo makes me smile as Mother used to tell me how my sister was bitterly disappointed that I was totally bald and not a bit like her doll, Emily Anne. (As you can see, I had a fair bit to live up to!)

It feels right and proper that Ireland should be playing in the Rugby World Cup Quarter Final slap bang in the middle of my birthday tomorrow as Mother and I never missed an International Rugby Match on TV together. I know she’ll be with me in spirit as I hide behind a few cushions cheering on the Irish team, with hubby and son,  in its battle against Argentina.

So Happy Birthday to US, Mother, and you were right, ‘Love IS elastic.’ 

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

52 thoughts on “My Birthday Eve”

  1. Happy Birthday Jean and thank you for sharing your lovely memories of your Mother. Good luck Ireland in the football…me, I’m also supporting Australia against Scotland:):)

    1. Thanks very much, Roy.
      Pity about Ireland losing. It seemed like they were on the way back. Don’t know what I’d do if I was Scottish, though I kind of am. The Jean comes from the ancestors in Ayr!

  2. What lovely collections of memories to have especially on your special day. I like the way that you’re celebrating by planting flowers in honour of your parents and by going to a concert. Happy Birthday Jean.. PS: I love the picture of your brother and sister.

  3. Many happy returns of the day. So interesting that your birthday Eve, should be the day our grandson Adam, came into the world.

  4. I love reading about those memories you have of your mother and your father, too! And a coincidence that you should take up a 13 mile walk for charity in her honor after she died….I did the same in 2010 in honor of my mother, though it was 19 years after she died! I hope you have a wonderful birthday tomorrow as you are worth every moment of it…and many many more! xo n

    1. Thanks very much, Nancy.
      I’m very relieved to hear about the nineteen years. Seems to open up lots of space to do things I’ve always meant to do but had decided it was too late. xx

  5. Happy belated birthday, Jean! I hope the concert was as lovely as it sounds. I like your idea of doing something to celebrate a difficult anniversary. I find all the meaningful dates tough since my own Mum’s untimely death not long ago and this is inspiring me to try to have my own private celebration instead.

    1. Thanks Tara, the concert was brill. Hard to beat 2 violins.
      I am so glad that the post sowed a seed of inspiration about coping with those emotionally tough days ( some of which we can anticipate reasonably well). One of the best pieces of advice I got after my mother died was to try and mark special days by doing something that was very much associated with her, e.g. the snowdrops, and something new and not connected, e.g. the concert. It has served me well thus far.

        1. Yes, that’s the one and you asked about dolls of our youth. Well the dolls that stand out for me were both big sis’. One was Emily Anne and the other Genevieve. Their names were perfect for them.
          Was just thinking yesterday how we called our lovely King Charles, Sophie, after a doll in one of my son’s favourite childhood books. Her full name was Princess Sophie Rose and so it was for spaniel Sophie. Dolls and teddy bears are fundamental to life, I think. In ways, they are the precursors of dogs in terms of unconditional love.

  6. I think it’s so sweet that your birthday was a celebration of you and your mother. I have a friend who does that too and it makes a lot of sense. It must be difficult to celebrate it since your mother’s passing but what a good idea to do something meaningful like a charity race, even if it was physically exhausting. Wishing you a wonderful new year, full of adventure and happiness.

    1. Letizia, I have to say that it has seemed completely natural to continue to celebrate it as being ‘our’ birthday since Mother died. I was very fortunate to have her in my life beyond my 50th birthday so the idea was deeply ingrained.
      How interesting that you have a friend who does the same. I’ve continued it with my son (or he with me!).

      1. How lovely that you have continued the tradition with your son. My friend used to buy her mother a gift on her (my friend’s) birthday- a gift for giving her life I suppose!

  7. As you’ve probably noticed by now, I am slowly catching up on my reading. And doing it backwards! So a most happy belated birthday to you, lovely lady! I just adore reading about your memories; you so have a knack!

  8. Happy belated birthday, my dear friend.
    A lovely post… I almost started to cry. So many memories… beautiful memories. I also laughed about your sister’s disappointment. :))

      1. How you and your mother celebrated your day, “as our” day. I have always said that this is just how should be – both mother and child celebrating the day together.

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