My Mother’s Two Birthdays

According to my mother, and according to her own mother, she was born in Brooklyn on December 22, 1922. She frequently says, nobody forgets something like that. But the date on her birth certificate is December 24. She says that the doctor was too busy or too lazy to file her birth certificate until two days later. So that is the date that is on her passport, her drivers license (when she had one), and all of her legal documents. She says that she had a girlfriend with the same doctor, who was born on the 29th of some month but her legal papers say the 31st. I like to think of him as the two-day-late doctor.

As an adopted person, I am very sensitive to the issue of birth certificates not telling the truth. My own original birth certificate, with my original name, date of birth and first parents, is still not legally available to me. So we like to acknowledge my mother’s real birthday on December 22. We celebrate twice, on the 22nd and also on the 24th. There’s a lot of cake happening around here. And a lot of presents. On Thursday, she specified her desires. She wants lobster. I’ve ordered seven, partially cooked, because I don’t want to deal with any Annie Hall style lobster massacre in our kitchen. She wants chocolate cake, but it needs to say, “Have a good 2016” rather than “Happy birthday” because she doesn’t want anyone to feel left out.

Yesterday she seemed particularly pleased by the acknowledgment of her birthday. Alyson gave her a bouquet of balloons and they made chocolate marshmallow cupcakes which she really enjoyed. I gave her a little red popcorn machine and when she tore open the paper she was so surprised and delighted. She said, I’ve never had my own popcorn machine! Which cracked me up.

I know there are some adults who ignore their own birthdays as the numbers get higher. But not her. And not me. We are always happy to celebrate being alive.

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