"Who are you?" she asked, looking at Lynn.
"It's me, Mom. It's Lynn. I came to wish you a happy birthday. So...happy birthday!"
"Don't shout at me," the old woman said.
"I wasn't...," Lynn began.
"And you're not my daughter. You're too old to be my daughter. Go away."
The old woman closed her eyes and dozed off again.
Lynn's eyes filled with tears, but she quickly brushed them away. It was hard not to be hurt when Mom didn't recognize her, but she was slowly learning to deal with it. She set the cake she was carrying on the table and made herself comfortable in one of the chairs, waiting. Other residents walked by and Lynn smiled and waved at them. Some acknowledged her; some didn't. Two residents at a corner table were arguing over who should be allowed to sit at their table with them. One was calling out for something to drink.
"Who are you?" The old woman was awake again.
"My name is Lynn."
"Why are you here?"
"I'm a friend of your daughter's," Lynn said. "I just came by to say hi."
"That's nice," said the old woman, looking intently at the cake on the table.
"What's that?" she asked.
"It's a birthday cake. I heard it was your birthday so I thought you might like some cake."
"Is it my birthday? No, it's not my birthday. If it were my birthday, my daughter would be here."
Lynn put her hand over the woman's, squeezing gently. "I bet she'd be here if she could."
The old woman reached out a finger to touch the plastic cake container.
"What kind is it?" she asked.
"Lynn told me you love chocolate cake, so that's what I brought."
The old woman's eyes grew round. "Oh, I do. I do love chocolate cake." She looked around as if to see if anybody were watching. "Maybe we could have a piece now?"
Lynn smiled. "I think that sounds like a wonderful idea," she said. They cut the cake, putting slices on paper plates that Lynn had brought with her. She gave her Mom a large piece, then shared with the other residents in the room.
"Ooooh, this is gooood," the old woman said, her eyes shining with excitement. "Best cake I've had in years."
She quickly ate the first piece of cake and asked for a second. She smiled as she ate.
"Soooo good," she said. "I bet my daughter's sorry she's missing this."
"I'm sure she is," Lynn said, swallowing the lump in her throat.
After the cake, the old woman became quiet, and soon fell asleep again. Lynn sat with her for an hour but she didn't wake.
As Lynn got up to leave, the old woman suddenly lifted her head.
"Hi, Lynn," she said, obviously pleased to see her daughter. "You missed the best chocolate cake today!"
Lynn leaned down to kiss her Mom's cheek. "Happy birthday, Mom," she whispered.
"Is it my birthday?" the old woman asked. "Well, imagine that."
Copyright 2013 Cia Williford
All rights reserved.
All rights reserved.