Elderly woman doesn’t know her true birthdate

Lefty Graves

Elderly womanPhoto byVladimir SoaresonUnsplash

** This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as shared with me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

I’ve worked caring for the elderly for many years. Many like to chat and visit while I’m helping them clean their homes or do laundry. One of my clients, Ella, and I were discussing birthdays the other day, and she shared this story with me.

Ella, my client, shared with me that to get into school, you had to be five years of age by September 1st in her particular school district. However, Ella was only four years old so her mother couldn’t legally send her to school until she turned five. Ella’s mother worked and really needed the money because she was a single mom, so it was very important to her to get Ella into school so that she could continue to provide for Ella. Her father wasn’t in the picture, and Ella’s mother was their sole provider.

Since Ella’s birthday wasn’t before September 1st, her mother had written a different date on her school application so that Ella could start school when she was four. This continued all through her school days and beyond.

The charade had worked so well that Ella had no idea when her true birthday was. Until she was older, her mother had told her that ‘today is your birthday,’ and they celebrated. When Ella got older, her mother celebrated her birthday on August 31 every year. Her mother had passed on without sharing the truth with her, and her father wasn’t in the picture, so Ella could not ask him what the true date of her birth was. Although Ella had a birth certificate, it agreed with the date that her mother had used to get her into school.

No one knows exactly how old Ella truly is; however, if what she tells me is true, then she’s actually younger than 85 years. Of course, her mother would have had to have somehow forged her birth certificate to get her into school. However, it would have been much easier to forge a birth certificate 80 years ago vs. today with all of the existing technology.

Ella suspects that her real birthday is in October or December. She believes the 31st is the correct number; however, she’s unsure of the actual month. This was actually a common practice at one time, and a lot of people did this to send their children to school early so that they could work without having to pay for childcare. Have you ever known anyone who didn’t know their actual birthday?

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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction recovery, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming, and an eclectic mix of other topics. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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