A birthday card by any other name

I just finished reading Joan Didion’s wonderful book about loss, “The Year of Magical Thinking.” It’s highly recommended for anyone dealing with the death of a loved one. One of the more poignant passages is regarding the last birthday gift her husband gave her before he died. This made me remember an incident that occurred as my father’s dementia was progressing.

My mother’s birthday was coming up, and I guess she had mentioned it to my dad in passing. Now even when my dad was mentally healthy, he was one of those guys that often forgot to mark special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. So my mom was certainly not expecting anything now, with dad’s mental state deteriorating.

She was surprised when she saw an envelope on the dining room table. She knew it wasn’t from me, as I was a couple of thousand miles away and she had not gone to get the mail that day. She opened it and out popped bunny rabbits holding baskets of pastel-painted eggs. “Happy Easter” was emblazoned in puffy letters across the card. My dad had signed the card inside.

I believe it is the last gift he ever gave my mom.

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