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Thu, Nov. 21

Bluhm: Searching for the perfect present on mom’s birthday

Judy Bluhm, Courier Columnist

Judy Bluhm, Courier Columnist

Do you look forward to your next birthday? My mother just turned 96 and she didn’t seemed too thrilled.

Actually, she hasn’t been excited about having a birthday for the last thirty years. She claims that only children should have them, that they come around too quickly and that they seem to spoil an otherwise perfectly good day.

She definitely dislikes celebrations and didn’t want a cake, but she does expect acknowledgement on that “special day.”

My mother claims that as soon as people start getting old, they receive the same kind of gifts that infants do – pajamas, nightgowns, slippers and robes. (What am I to do with the plush terrycloth robe I bought for her?) She says that gifts for “old people” have some connection to bedtime and imply that all an elderly person can do is lay around. I asked her what she would like for her birthday and she replied, “whatever you think is fitting…as long as it’s not an old lady gift.”

Help…I’ve been a basket case ever since! What the heck could I get her?

Perhaps we sometimes need to adjust our images of our parents and grandparents. As they age, they may become less than robust, possibly even frail, but a gift should not be limited to the dreariness of growing old. I do get my mother’s point. Why should a life well lived be celebrated with a bathrobe? Yikes, is that the best we can do?

Gifts are small tokens of appreciation for the things (and people) we love! There are a thousand items that we could use, might come in handy, will save us time and energy, but the best gifts are ones that say “you’re special.” Our collection of personal “treasures” will probably not be bought at a department store. They will come from the thoughtfulness and intimacy of someone who loves (or loved) us and took the time to say so in some heart-felt way.

My father wrote my mother a poem one year for her birthday and she has it framed, hanging on her bedroom wall. My father has passed on, but his words to her are like quiet reassurances that keep reminding her of the life they shared together. Sometimes a gift can remind us of our best and brightest moments. This is when the giving (and receiving) is splendid!

I found a compass at a specialty shop; gold with precision works, boxed in a black velvet case. Mother often says that she feels “lost” since my father’s death. Maybe the best gift is the one that symbolizes that we can navigate through each day, safely towards tomorrow, a small reminder that we can find our way. Is it “fitting?” I’ll let my mother decide. Is age just a number? You decide.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at

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