I don’t know when my mother’s birthday is.
There. I said it.
In my defense, I do know that it’s on an odd-numbered day (probably somewhere in the teens)in September.
Every year my experience of the ninth month begins with a moment of intense panic.
“Oh crap! It’s September again! Mom’s birthday is coming up! But when? Arrrgh.”
My process of elimination gets stranger each year. This year, I advanced the argument that the Rev’s birthday couldn’t possibly be on September 11th because then we’d remember it.
“But,” my brain continued, “what if it is on the 11th and we DON’T remember it because of the other thing. AHHHHHHH!”
Every year, I turn to the internet for help.
The Rev doesn’t have her date of birth listed on Facebook. She is not a vain woman, so I’m pretty sure she left that field blank simply because she gets a lot of enjoyment out of watching the G.P., the Brovarian (my brother Josh who lives in Germany), and myself struggle to figure out the true date of her “special day.”
This year, the internet was not amused.
“Didn’t we just do this last year,” asked my friend Wooz, who remembered the thread but not the date.
“Yeah,” I replied ruefully. “We do it every year. I can’t search my Facebook memories, though, and by the time it comes up, it will be too late.
“If only,” my pal Teri weighed in, “there was some invention or device that would make it easy for a person to save important dates, perhaps even to plan for them.”
“I kinda tend to go through cell phones,” I countered, having saved the date of my mother’s birth in several such devices which had met bitter and expensive ends.
“I was thinking of a calendar, Ab.”
Teri and the Rev both earned Phi Beta Kappa marks in sarcasm.
This year, however, the family weighed in.
The Brovarian’s wife, (my sister-in-law Kenia) messaged that she was sure it was either the 17th or the 19th.
My Aunt Kate (a former history teacher) sent a date that I’m pretty sure was either Lincoln’s birthday or the day Kennedy was shot saying, “Sorry, Ab. I don’t even remember my birthday anymore.”
My Aunt Karen said she thought it was the 19th, but then she and Aunt Kate hijacked the thread trying to figure out when everybody else’s birthday was.
Aunt Karen then said that we didn’t have to worry about her birthday because she “gave them up years ago.” This was good news since no one in the family had worried about it since around 1971.
As a pretend journalist, I regarded all this information as coming from unreliable sources and took a deeper dive into the “Rabbit Hole of Truth and Small Cakes Which You Should Not Eat Despite Instruction to the Contrary.”
I bravely asked Mom via text message.
I got nothing in return but silence so tense even the crickets shut up for a change.
Dad replied to my Facebook query with a very exact date which included the year. This seemed like it might be a more plausible solution.
However, one year, the G.P. and I forgot Mom’s birthday so thoroughly that we had to shop last-minute for gifts and a cake. She got some magazines and a Bic grill lighter from the gas station. Her birthday cake was a pizza.
One would think that would cause the Rev to have a more vested interest in us remembering her birthday, but when the Rev digs her heels in, they stay dug.
Panic was setting in. I decided that since the online consensus was the 19th, I’d just go with that.
Then, early one morning, Mom rang my doorbell. I let her in, and she sat down on my white couch.
“I need to tell you something,” she said, dramatically.
“What Mom?” I replied, as my anxiety painted mental pictures of the torture she was going to inflict upon me because I forgot when her birthday was…again.
“For my birthday this year, I want a three-quart Instantpot. Don’t get a six-quart one. I already have one of those. THREE QUARTS. They used to have them at HEB, but they’re sold out.”
“I GOT YOU!” I crowed in my head, thinking that if she wanted her gift, she’d be forced to tell me when her birthday was.
“So…what day is your birthday, Mom?”
“You don’t know?” she teased.
“Is it the 19th?”
“Yes, and DON’T YOU FORGET IT.”
If there is a magic phrase that instantly causes a human being to forget something, it’s “And don’t you forget it.” I remember right now, but I’m positive that at midnight on my Mother’s birthday, I’m going to come down with a soap-opera-level case of amnesia.
To Dad’s credit, he got it right.
To mine, I’m better about it than I was before.
Until about 2011, I was positive Mom’s birthday was in November.