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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

‘I Just Want To See Her Happy’: West Town Woman Asks Neighbors To Help Celebrate Ailing Mother’s Birthday

Carmen Ramirez, who suffers from advanced Alzheimer's disease, turned 83 on Thursday. Her daughter said she fears this could be her last birthday.

Carmen Ramirez, left, and her youngest daughter Soltrini "Trini" Ramirez.
Soltrini Ramirez / Provided
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WEST TOWN — A West Town woman is asking neighbors to help make her mother’s birthday a bit more special during quarantine.

Soltrini “Trini” Ramirez is planning a surprise birthday parade for her mother at 2 p.m. Saturday outside the family home at 2056 W. Ohio St. She’s inviting neighbors to drive by in their cars or show up — socially distanced — to wish her mother a happy birthday.

Her mother, Carmen Ramirez, turned 83 on Thursday. She is severely ill with Alzheimer’s Disease and her daughter worries this year may mark her final birthday.

“Even if it’s just two minutes, I just want to see her happy,” Soltrini said. “With what we’re going through, I just want my mom to be happy.”

Credit: Soltrini Ramirez / Provided
Carmen Ramirez, 83, has lived in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago since 1963.

At least 17 neighbors have already told Ramirez they’re planning to come by on Saturday. Neighbors who are unable to participate have offered to purchase balloons or bring over treats in advance.

Her mother’s favorite foods include strawberries, oranges and cake, Soltrini said. Her favorite items are stuffed animals.

The idea of birthday parades during quarantine is nothing new for West Town. Last month, a 30-year-old’s friends and family celebrated her big day with balloons, gifts and music — from a safe distance.

RELATED: West Town Woman Celebrates Quarantine Birthday With Surprise Puerto Rican Parade

Carmen Ramirez was born in Puerto Rico. She had a “hard life” from the start, her daughter said. She never knew her own mother, who died when she was only 2 years old, Soltrini said.

Carmen moved to Chicago in 1963. She met her husband, who later became the father of her seven children — five daughters and two sons. In 1974, the family bought their Ohio Street home.

Carmen put her daughters through private high school by working the noon-8 p.m. housekeeping shift at St. Vincent de Paul, 2145 N. Halsted St.

In 1994, at the age of 61, her husband died from a heart condition.

Today, Carmen has 14 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. Her youngest son, Junior Ramirez, lives with her in the family’s Ohio Street home and is her full-tome caretaker. Soltrini lives a few blocks away with her husband.

Credit: Soltrini Ramirez / Provided
The Ramirez family

Carmen’s Alzheimer’s has progressed to the sixth of seven disease stages and she no longer recognizes her daughter and often mistakes her son for her late husband.

“She thinks I’m a nice lady who lives next door … it’s hard,” Soltrini said.

What has helped her mother is being able to visit with her many generations of children and extended family.

With COVID-19, however, she’s only been able to see her two children who are her caretakers. Soltrini, an essential worker at Mariano’s, said she is very grateful her mother has not contracted the virus.

“This is her 83rd birthday,” Soltrini said. “It’s the first time our brothers and sisters are not here. I want her to feel that she’s remembered. That’s what I want.”

Credit: Soltrini Ramirez / Provided
Carmen Ramirez, left, and her eldest daughter.

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