Friday, August 23, 2019

The Birthday Slice

We have a crazy tradition in my family. Whenever someone has a birthday and is ready to cut the first slice to "wish upon," Mom would always come up beside us and grab the knife to guide our hand as if one of us would chop a finger off. It got to be a running joke in our family, and with our mother now gone, we have still carried it with us.

Mom was fun to tease, and even with dementia, she mostly kept her sense of humor. I loved my mother's laugh--for she had an infectious, addicting laugh when something struck her completely hilarious. She would almost lose her breath, and the most adorable sounds would come from her.

My mother always said in a good-natured way: "You guys will have lots of stories when I'm gone." And, "I hope you laugh always when you think of me."

As I approach the last year of my fifties which I can hardly believe, I think strongly of my mother and all the years she made my birthday special. She made a chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting that me and my father adored, but my son and brother never liked. The pages of the cookbook that she used for this recipe is so encrusted with dried cake batter, I feel you could pop it into the oven and bake it!

She drew cute stick-type figures on many of my birthday cards, and always had something humorous to say. The envelopes of the cards were always adorned with my name spelled out and little sayings:

K is for kisses, lots of them or  kitties or kindness or kandles (oops)
A is for always loving you no matter what
R is for remember the good times and laughs
E is for ever be who you are and know that God loves you
N is for never change my darling

And another:

K is for Kan't think of a thing to say
A is for Ahhh
R is for Rot Roh
E is for Empty brain, lol
N is for Never stop laughing

One year in my mid-thirties, Mom pulled off a little surprise birthday party for me. She gathered some of my best friends and I had no idea about it. I kept joking that day that she ordered a male stripper to dance at my party, so my dear adorable ten-year-old step son got into the spirit when he heard me say that. He was gone for a few minutes and then popped into the living room with no shirt and a towel wrapped around his waist. He did a little dance and then whisked the towel off to reveal his shorts underneath! What a wonderful laugh we had!

Birthdays have always been great especially because of my mom. And I can't help but miss her terribly as my special day approaches tomorrow. During her last years with dementia, she still would try to bake or make something for us. One year all she could think to do was boil eggs, and she placed a little food coloring in the water as the eggs boiled to turn them pastel. I actually thought it was kind-of a sweet genius idea. Her cakes no longer worked because of some missed ingredient, but Dad would stoically eat them and freeze a few slices which were always left over.

Tomorrow for my birthday we will gather at my parent's old house where my brother and his family now live, and I will look around, smile, and remember some of the most fun times growing up, and how very special my mother made me feel. And as the family sings "Happy Birthday" to me, I will picture Mom standing next to me with a glorious smile on her face, and feel her hand guiding me as I make the first slice on the cake.