Another May 5. But not just another May 5.

This morning I woke up in beautiful Key Biscayne at the Mom 2.0 summit, the slow ceiling fan gently tempering the rays of the morning sun streaming through the window. Not 5 minutes later, a calendar alert came up on computer. Then my iPad. Then my phone, twice.

Momsie’s birthday.

My mood changed.

It’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago, I might have been calling her to hear her voice, wish her a happy day, put Thalia on the phone to chirp out a toddler’s hello, then insist that she eat more cake because dammit, after 80 if you can’t eat more cake on demand, what’s the point?

And then I realized that just four years ago, we were right here in this very state, hardly an hour away, celebrating the beauty of a life lived 90 years where she pointed out all her friends in wheelchairs and walkers, all those hobbling around from chair to chair, and how each one was a good decade younger than my sprightly grandmother who still lived alone, walked the stairs, and had the mischievous energy to toss every bit of the George Bush campaign brochures with me that was dumped in her building lobby before the ’04 election. We of course reminded everyone of this at the party.

The Democrats laughed, at least.

It was a hell of a party. A great way to go out.

Then, just two years after that, we said goodbye.

Am I the only one who can’t bring myself to delete the birthday alerts of those who’ve left me? Deleting a contact is something you do for ex-bosses and ex-boyfriends. It’s not something you do for the people you loved most in the world. But then, I can’t toss my first pregnancy stick either.

The alert, the notification–it’s like  being able to keep her with me one more year.

Momsie, I wish you a happy birthday today. Because it still is. I hope that wherever you are, if ever you are, you’re eating that second piece of cake. All of it. Even if someone else licked the fork first. You have to get over the germ thing sometime.



66 thoughts on “Another May 5. But not just another May 5.”

  1. Tomorrow will be one year for the loss of my mother and I still have her name in my phone. Its’s hard. I think it will always be that way.

  2. Today’s our 35th anniversary and we have no parents with whom we can share it. Orphans at almost 70 years old. It never goes away…….and don’t even think about pressing “delete” on the ones you love. There are more than enough others for whom “delete” tolls.

  3. Right there with you Liz. Every March I get alerts for my Grandma’s birthday. She has been gone almost 10 years, but I just can not delete her. I have gone from getting sad everytime I saw it to taking a few minutes to think about her laugh, and her very giving heart.

    1. Isn’t it strange that we see it as “deleting her?” I use the same choice of words and of course I’m not deleting her. Just her number. But the two feel absolutely intertwined. Thank you Jen, she sounds wonderful.

  4. I too have my Grandad’s birthday, my darling Aunt Chrys for whom I am named as well as the anniversary’s of their deaths. They died within a few months of each other over 12 years ago. I miss them both like crazy. Thanks for the chance to remember them today.

  5. I have an old fashioned calendar with actual paper and so on, and my address book in there. With my mom’s address first in the W’s. I don’t know if I’ll ever get another address book, because to not have her there, available to write or call or chat with, would break my heart. But she died in ’08 and I miss her every damn day.

    1. Oh Julie, I remember! I remember saving every old address book for that reason. maybe there’s something we lose in the paper journals and ephemera replaced by digital solutions that are so much easier to change or toss with a single click.

  6. Birthdays remain the same, no matter whether our loved ones remain on this Earth. I think your reminder is an excellent way to treasure your mother’s memory. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I still think of things to tell my Mom-Mom — even sometimes forgetting I can’t. I figure one way or another, she knows. And having her until I was 40, I can’t help but feel lucky even when I don’t. Don’t delete the alerts, Liz. Sometimes the pings and pangs of sadness make us stop our busy lives and do well by reminding us of something and someone really wonderful.

    1. Amy, you’re exactly right. Life’s both sweet and sour, and sometimes the reminders of the loss of our loved ones bring a sweet sadness as we remember them and wish we could give them one more hug. Or maybe 1,000 more.

  8. I wish such losses got easier, but they just seem to be something you learn to share space with in a way.

    I miss my grandmother every single day. And I’ve been transferring old addresses into a new address book and I stopped when I got to hers because it doesn’t make sense to put it in the new book, but maybe I’m not ready to toss out the old one.

  9. The reminder, perhaps needless as you’d remember on your own, is just that a reminder. Of a great life once lived. A great love still loved. She may be physically gone, but she’s always with you. Its just another opportunity to look back and remember.

  10. I kept contact information for someone in my phone who was very special to me and passed away far before his time. It was my way of not letting go, and after a few years, I decided it was time to let go and deleted it. It was really hard for me to do.

    1. I may get to that point. I’m not good at throwing out photo cards or deleting contacts from college. I’m a saver. I’m a virtual hoarder of memories.

  11. It was my darling Grandma’s birthday on April 27th – she would have been 99!
    I’m not sure I’ll ever delete her from my birthday list. She was and is such an important part of how I came to be and who I am today.

  12. Liz,
    Sorry to hear. It’s very hard to lose a loved one, no matter how long ago. It’s like losing an arm or one whole side of your body. I am thankful that the memories stay alive. My dad passed away almost four years ago, and I can say that I really thought that it would get better, but you always do continue to miss your loved ones terribly. However, because they are so pivotal in one’s life, you will always feel their spirit. And that’s a beautiful thing.

  13. I can’t toss my first pregnancy stick, either! What a beautiful tribute to your mother. Life is fleeting, and I think we can all relate to wanting to hold on to the amazing people or moments of our lives.

  14. As luck would have it, my Grandma’s birthday falls on Mother’s Day every few years (including 2012). It’s an appropriate day to remember someone whose entire life was about her family. She passed away when I was ten, long before I would have been responsible for remembering it was her birthday, and so I don’t have any alerts or addresses or anything like that to preserve. But I’m sure that even if I did I would keep them around as a reminder that she was here, in my life. (I have my first pregnancy stick too.)

  15. Which is why I can’t bring myself to put my 97 year-old grandfather’s number in my cell phone, knowing that it will be out of use in several years.

    Thinking of you.

  16. I just spent the evening out with some friends enjoying the supermoon an on the ride home I was telling a friend that my grandfather has left my grandmother as the message. I think almost everyone in our family calls when we know he’s not home to hear her voice.

    It will be one year in a month. She called and sang happy birthday to me the day before they put the tubes back in (that never came out) and five days later she passed.

  17. This is so sad and hard to read. My wonderful grandmother (who was more like a mother to me) died more than 20 years ago. Her birthday, which is coming up, still brings a vale of tears.

  18. It’s been a few years since my grandparents died, and I just recently deleted them as a contact…but not before backing them up. 🙂

  19. My dad just died 6 months ago. I recently got a new phone and when manually transferring all my contacts I couldn’t stop myself from transferring his. His cell had been turned off for months, but I felt like I needed to see his name on that list. I can’t imagine ever deleting it. His birthday is still on my calendar too 🙂

  20. I still have the last texts from my sister, she died 2 years ago. Logically, I know I’ll never get new texts from this number, but I still go and look at those last texts. I don’t know if I’ll ever delete her contact info from my phone. I know I haven’t gotten there yet.

    1. Oh Laurie, that must be so hard. I’m sorry. And I understand. I suppose in this digital world, it’s like saving cards and letters.

  21. I was the keeper of the birthdays for a lab list that I was on for about ten years. I joined when Sam was a puppy (she’s 14 now). I haven’t been able to bring myself to delete the DOGS who’ve gone to the bridge over that period from my birthday list. I don’t know how I’d go about deleting a person. I don’t think I could do it. I don’t.

  22. Sigh. I really needed to read this today. Last week marked the one year anniversary of my Dad entering the hospital w/ severe jaundice, which ended 32 days later with his death in Hospice. I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall this week, thinking of him and missing him every hour of the day. I love that I see his picture every time I talk to my mom (it’s a pic of both of them) and just today I tagged him in a post I wrote on Facebook. I’m a saver/hoarder of memories, too. Though I just took pictures of my positive pregnancy tests. ;P
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. I’m so sorry Kara. I think it’s so interesting the ways we keep memories alive now in a digital age. From photos to these stupid alerts. And now…Facebook too.

  23. My grandma died 3 years ago, I still have her cell phone number in my contacts and don’t think I will delete it anytime soon…

  24. I just love the photo so much ! Well I celebrated my birthday at May 5 as well.. We are the same birthdate..

  25. Ok.. Trying my hand at this commenting thing. (Your 7 minutes of inspiration stuck). It’s funny – because I write editorial, I so rarely share of myself. My grandmother just passed away at 100 in Nova Scotia. I recorded 2 songs for her funeral – ‘Amazing Grace’ (the Anglicans made me) and ‘I’ll be Seeing You’ (in the style of a ’40s swing band) which was played as people walked out. I still get electronic reminders of her wedding anniversary and birthday, though the dates are cemented in my mind. Thanks for sharing Liz. I could get used to this sharing thing! xx

    1. Thanks for the comment Jill! I can’t imagine how you can listen to either of those songs now without tearing up. What strong, beautiful memories to attach to them.

  26. People who we really love never truely leave us. Its like a ship that sailed out of sight over the horizon.

  27. I send my mom a little pink cake decorated with red roses so it arrives just in time each year – and then I call my mom every February 4th – the day her own mother died… and we enjoy that whole damn piece of my grandmother’s favorite cake without any guilt and we laugh and cry and celebrate that woman we miss so much.

  28. Precious memories, and a most precious picture of the two of you to cherish for ever. I feel it is important to convey these kind of feelings to our own children, it’s all about the love and legacy of your family.

  29. Honestly, it gets easier, but you never forget. Unfortunately, the closest people to me who have passed went on or near big holidays, so I don’t even need the calendar reminder. My Dad has been gone 13 years this October and he died on my wedding 4th anniversary. Every year I have to remind myself to remember the good times with him, especially on my wedding day, so that my anniversary isn’t one big yearly bummer. It’s hard, but it’s the memories that always make me smile.

  30. I am so there with you. My only brother died two years ago and I can’t remove his phone number, address, email or even blog links from anything I have (paper address book, email accounts, my phone, my Christmas card list…).
    I still check his facebook page every once in a while to see if people have left comments. The truly interesting thing is that people do. Old friends will stumble on the page and comment on his loss. Other friends will visit on the anniversary of his death, or on his birthday, to say a word. His wretched wife holds the passwords and I’m dreading the day she disables the account…

    1. Marie, there are starting to be really interesting posts on that topic. You’re not alone. We’re leaving a digital legacy and it’s a strange new world in that way. Don’t you find it comforting that he lives on electronically? I hope his wife doesn’t take that away from you–or the others who loved him. I’m sorry for your loss.

  31. Liz – I apologize for not knowing this while we were at mom 2.0
    I have almost the same picture with my ‘bubbie’ and me, and I still feel her loss although she died 12 years ago. Sometimes – I pick up the phone and think that I have to call her and tell her something.
    I imagine if she were alive – she would be texting and facebooking – she was always so vibrant and forward thinking.
    Even if we delete the hard evidence, those close to us live on …. so gushy, but true.

  32. Love it! And I agree – celebrate her life today! In doing so you keep her beautiful spirit alive forever 🙂

  33. Happy birthday to her and hugs to you.

    I still have my grandparents phone number in my phone. Even when I got a new phone, I couldn’t delete it. They both died in 2008.

  34. Liz, this is a perfect example of a beautiful post that I read, that I want to let you know that I have been here and read it. That I may have had watery eyes while reading it. And beyond that, all that I have to say is that I am thinking of you and am thinking of my Bubbie, too now. Her birthday doesn’t come up in my notifications (mostly because I’m not quite that organized or efficient like that), but every time her special dates come around, I miss her a little bit more than just any other day.

    1. Oh Candace, you just reinforced my belief in how important grandparents are in our kids’ lives. Thank you.

  35. “Am I the only one who can’t bring myself to delete the birthday alerts of those who’ve left me? Deleting a contact is something you do for ex-bosses and ex-boyfriends. It’s not something you do for the people you loved most in the world. But then, I can’t toss my first pregnancy stick either.”

    Mine is still in my drawer. And those that have left me are still in my phone book. Happy Momsie’s Birthday, Liz.

  36. I couldn’t do it either. My grandmother is still in my 20 year old address book, even though she passed away ten years ago.

  37. I think most people have something that they just can’t let go of. I don’t think that’s a bad thing especially if we are talking about loved ones. It’s important that we remember them and the role they played in our lives. I think what makes them even harder to forget is that these persons had been in one of the happiest times of our lives.

    I’ve never lost someone that close to me before. But it is natural for kids to bury their parents. And when I think of my dad passing, it just breaks my heart. Morbid, I know. Aside from some blood pressure concerns, my dad is healthy and may even outlive me. But I can’t help but wonder what I’m going to do if he is gone.

  38. I still have the old tape from my Dad’s old school answering machine. He’s been gone for 18 years. The tape is damaged but I keep hoping one day I’ll be able to fix it and hear his voice again.

    1. That’s actually amazing Kelly. And I don’t blame you one bit. Have you looked into services for that?

  39. She looks like an awesome lady. It’s so awesome that you have such good memories of her, and all the fun times and conversations.

    We just lost my grandma this January, and will be celebrating our first Mother’s Day without her this weekend. Just to make things harder, my mom’s birthday is a week later, her first one that her mother won’t be giving her a gift.

    We have a video from a few years ago, from my grandpa’s 80th birthday party. It’s treasured by our family because it’s the only recording we have of my grandma’s loud, raucous laugh. We’ll never lose that laugh, technology be damned.

  40. I just read this today, which is kind of perfect because in Mexico, today is Mother’s Day. Every Mother’s Day (and Oct. 15, her birthday), I grab the phone to call my Tita (my grandma)…and then I call my aunt instead. My Tita has been gone for eight years, but there isn’t a single day that I don’t think about her. I didn’t have electronic gadgets to remember her birthday, but it’s etched in my brain and the date on the calendar knocks me on my ass every time.

    Sorry for your loss, but I’m happy you were able to enjoy her for such an amazingly long time.

  41. It’s treasured by our family because it’s the only recording we have of my grandma’s loud, raucous laugh. We’ll never lose that laugh, technology be damned. Thanks for sharing..

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