Birthdays! The older we get, the less we want to deal with them, it seems. At least some folks are that way. Me, I try to be thankful I made it through another year.
I’ve made some pretty interesting memories over the years. One year when I was a kid, mom decided to bake me a cake in a pan shaped like Winnie the Pooh. It called for a good bit of icing and decorating, and she didn’t start on it until I was in bed for the night, so she ended up staying up half the night to get it done. I remember waking up and hearing her voice faint in the kitchen. Later (much), she told me she was so punchy and tired by the time she got done, she was talking to the cake, and was only a little surprised it didn’t talk back.
Another year, my parents asked what kind of cake I wanted, I said, actually, I wanted a pie. This bakery here in town makes the most incredible rich and delicious fudge pie, and I decided I wanted that instead of a cake. Mom got it, and then got a can of icing to write Happy Birthday on it. And yes, it had candles stuck in it!
As the years went on, notices of my birthday got fewer and fewer. One year, my ‘birthday cake’ was one I baked myself…in a mug in the microwave. (It was tasty, though.)
This is bothering me. All the birthday memories I’m coming up with are food-related. What does that say about me?
Okay, how about this one. The weirdest birthday I can recall was, as fate would have it, my fortieth. Snow was predicted, but I got to work at Clover Bottom fine. It began to snow shortly after I got there, so I kept an eye on the sky. Days like that make me miss my grandfather, who used to monitor the weather and call all of us with warnings. It was annoying then, but Lord, how I wish he were here to do it now.
Anyway, by 9 AM, the snow was piling up at an alarming rate, and I decided I’d better try to head home. Three hours later, I made it halfway there and managed to pull off at a gas station. At least I made it to a warm dry place, I consoled myself, with fresh hot dogs and the morning paper, and when I mentioned to the clerk it was my birthday, he gifted me with a free muffin. Daddy and mom came in daddy’s 4 wheel drive pickup, and I finally got home around 5 o’clock in the evening.
Sorry, I seem to be meandering, I guess. I’m not trying to avoid talking about yesterday, honest I’m not. Actually, it was one of the better days we’ve had recently. Mom remembered who I was almost all day. In fact, at 2 AM she got up to use the bathroom and looked at her cell phone to see what time it was, and said “oh, I can say Happy Birthday to you now”. Then she got her purse, got some money out, gave it to me, and said she was sorry she couldn’t get me a card. As if I cared. Having her there, pretty much, for the majority of the day, was the best thing I could have gotten.
Back to food…Mom doesn’t eat chocolate; hasn’t for years. The caffeine made her panic attacks worse, so even though she loved it, she weaned herself off it. Since her memory has started to go, she usually still remembers that, but not always. One morning I was eating a slice of French bread spread with Nutella, Mom had never seen it before, or if she had, she didn’t remember. She asked what it was, then asked for a bite, then asked for a slice of her own. I mean, come on, at her age and with everything else going on, like I’m going to refuse? So she got it and loved it. The next time I had some, I asked if she wanted any and she was all like “you KNOW I can’t eat chocolate”.
Anyway, because of the chocolate thing, it seemed wasteful for me to get myself a whole cake; so when I ran to the grocery on Monday I got myself a giant cupcake. It looked great—until it fell over in the car on the way home and ended up with pink frosting all stuck to the inside of the container lid, and half its top bare. When I opened it to examine the damage, it turned out the thing had far more icing on it than I like anyway, so I just scraped off the mess on the lid, and smoothed the rest over the top, it wasn’t pretty, but I’m more interested in the taste anyhow.
I got to spend most of the day doing the things I like, reading, writing, knitting, listening to mellow music. Lots of friends stopped on my facebook page to wish me a happy day. One even sent me a gift card for my favorite line of perfumes! And I got myself one small gift, and I’m going to say it came from my daddy, though he is over 6 years gone now.
Over the weekend, mom had a couple of fairly lucid intervals, and during one of them, she asked if she had given me my daddy’s wedding ring. Now, being an auto mechanic, he rarely wore his ring. He said once it had come into contact with a car’s battery terminal and half scorched his finger off! He kept it in his wallet, and I vaguely recalled him having lost it once. As for the end, I thought if we had it, we had buried it with him, and I said so. By then, mom was starting to drift again, and finally she decided her sister had taken it while organizing mom’s jewelry box (which, for the record, never happened.)
The conversation, however, made me go find daddy’s wallet, where I had tucked it away when I brought it home from the hospital after he passed. His ring wasn’t in there; but I was mildly surprised to find a small amount of money still in there. I left it there, but it got me thinking: maybe I would buy myself some little thing, and call it daddy’s last birthday gift to me.
As it happened, I thought of just the thing. A friend who makes jewelry had just posted some gorgeous angel wing pendants, and one had garnets, my birthstone. I’d been drooling over it for several days, and I decided that would be perfect. Birthstones for my birthday, and a wing from my guardian angel.
On the whole, birthday was not half bad. Of course, today, it’s like the magic bubble burst, and mom is back to confusion and irritation and flipping back and forth on a dime. But I have that day to store away with the rest of my memories.