A Birthday Gift

This week, my Aunt Janice turned 67!  
Last year, on December 19th, the weather was stormy, but I braved a trip to the Dollar Tree after work and got her some birthday trinkets–she was thrilled momentarily but was more gleeful each time I sang “Happy Birthday.” Her memory was failing, and she requested it multiple times, but I had visited in the midst of supper, and she wanted to finish, and told me, “Okay, you can leave now.”   
In February she called me ‘Lynda’ (my older sister) and I smiled and agreed and admired her coloring pages.  She said, “Tell Loren and Alma ‘hi’.”  I was comforted that she still had me in the correct family.
This summer I was ‘Beverly’ (her oldest niece) and I smiled and agreed; I was still a beloved family member.
Last sunday I was ‘Sister’–not even a name, and it was barely in passing as she tightly clutched her ‘church bulletins’ (birthday cards) so the baby wouldn’t get them.  
I didn’t visit her on her actual birthday–didn’t think she would notice.  On December 20th, the weather was icy and I had stopped by the hospital to drop off papers and I was exhausted and worn and just wanted to go home.  Her room was on the other end of the facility, but I knew I would regret if I didn’t visit. 
In her room I got in close and said loudly, “Hi Aunt Janice, it’s Lisa.”  She looked at me quizzically and questioned, “Lynda?”  She secretly showed me where she had hidden the ‘church bulletins’ and encouraged my to look at her photo albums–I did.  I wished her “Happy Birthday” several times and then got ready to leave.
“Don’t leave me,” she implored near tears, and because tears are hereditary, I almost cried:  I felt so mleh and tired and she had no idea I was visiting.  “Look at my pictures,” she directed then opened the album and pointed at ‘him’ and ‘her’ and after several minutes a picture of me.  “Lisa!” she said excitedly with a twinkle in her eye and then pointed at me–“Lisa!” And I cried me some happy tears.

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