Happy Birthday Mom

Charli Mills’ March 18 2021 Flash Fiction Challenge was to write a story in 99 words (no more, no less) that takes place one year later. It can be any year. Explore the past year or another significant passing of time to the character. As always, she suggests we go where the prompt leads us.  

My 99-word simple poem is a true story. 

Last March, Mom had one of those milestone birthdays. Hubby’s sisters and I arranged a huge surprise party with out-of-town guests, a special lunch menu, champagne, wine and cake.

On the day of the planned event, Mom’s birthday, our country went into Covid lockdown. Mom was instructed to stay in her suite; the rest of us hibernated in our homes. We were grateful our honoree never found out about our plans. She would have been devastated had she known.

Mom’s retirement home never lifted their lockdown restrictions. All around, it’s been tougher and far more challenging for those living and working in the retirement and long-term care homes than it has been for the rest of us. We’ve had freedoms; they have not.

With failing eyesight and hearing, Mom seemed to adapt to the isolation protocols more readily than most. She was content with our phone calls and happy when the facility eventually asked each family to assign a designated visitor. My sister-in-law took on the role for our clan and since before Christmas, she’s been authorized to visit Mom in her unit.

And here we are, one year later. It’s Mom’s birthday again. While the virus still rages, our community lockdown is not quite as severe as it was 12 months ago. My Hubby and I along with his sisters, their spouses, his niece and her two toddlers gathered outside one of the glass doors in Mom’s building.

We arranged to have balloons, flowers, presents, champagne and cake placed inside the entryway. Outside, my sister-in-law passed out small bottles of champagne for each of us to take home. I’d brought individually wrapped slices of a fruit melody cake and handed them out.

Mom arrived. She was thrilled to see all of us, even though we were disguised behind masks and were standing scattered and distanced on the terrace. We waved and she waved back. She beamed at the toddlers and placed her fingers on the window, matching the palms of their little hands. One of the staff cracked open the door so Mom could hear us sing Happy Birthday. After more air hugs and kisses we went our separate ways.

Our visit may have lasted no more than half an hour, but it made a world of difference to Mom.


Mom’s Birthday


Balloons and cake,

Guests all confirmed,

The out-of-towners;

Their flights all reserved.


The virus arrived

And people died.

Our party was scrapped

As the country locked down.


One year later.


Mom’s birthday again,

And the virus still rages.

Vaccines jabbed in stages

Based on our ages.


We gather as family;

All masked and distanced.

We sing our good wishes

And blow her air kisses.


Mom’s still in lockdown

With nowhere to go.

Her hair is now long,

Her body still strong.


She smiles and waves

From inside the building.

Our visit means a lot,

Even more than we thought.

6 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Mom

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  1. Oh my, Kate. This virus is cruel. It is so sad to be kept away from loved ones out of fear of harming them. Your mum (MIL? – I wondered why your SIL was the designated visitor) is strong, but it must be so difficult kept from family in the twilight years. I am not questioning the need to do it. We do if for their protection. But it seems so sad and cruel. Hopefully the jab will allow you all to be together sometime in the near future. Take care. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Norah, Yes, Mom is my MIL, but when I got married she hoped I would and I wanted to start calling her Mom. It did not take away from my own mother or my relationship with her. What it did do though, was warm up my relationship with my MIL. My biological mother passed away years ago, so it’s been nice still having a ‘mom’ around. Mom’s had her vaccination and we’ve been informed that they are expanding the number of permitted visitors next month. Hubby and I will wait for our vaccine before visiting. Hopefully it won’t be toooo long from now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I called my MIL mum too. She liked it. I’m not sure that it warmed up our relationship. Maybe. But she lived on the other side of the world and we only met a few times so it didn’t have much of a chance really.
        I’m so pleased your mom has been vaccinated. Hopefully that will keep her well until long after you and Hub have had yours and been able to visit many times. 💖

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a mile-marker for this past year, Kate. The idea that it was your mom’s birthday again shows the longevity of our social disconnect. I’m glad you could gather and give your mom such a boost. Lovely verse for her!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Charli! While I had seen my one sister-in-law in person over the past year; I had not seen any of the other family members, other than in Zoom calls. It felt a little strange at first to actual meet and talk. I was glad we were able to come together and give Mom some joy.


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