Well, fifty years ago last Friday my grandmother suffered and suffered and suffered trying to give birth. One hundred and ten stitches later she was holding her first baby. It was a girl. Since that baby was turning fifty this year I wondered if we should do something. . . special. On September 16th I recieved the following e-mail from my grandmother:
Oh, I think it would be fun to have a "black birthday" for her.... you know everyone dress in black, have black icing on the cake, black balloons, black crepe paper all over the place, play some funeral music, etc. ..... would't that be fun?
She was singing my song and I got started. I spent time at the party store searching for anything black. Plates, napkins, table cloths, they had it all. As Halloween came and went I scoured through holiday clearance to find music, food coloring, strings of lights, and any other items of interest. I had everything planned out. . . but the cake. The orange cake in this post was actually a test cake for some techniques I wanted to use for this party. However, my dad mentioned one evening that mom is not a big cake fan. I was worried. The last thing I wanted was to spend hours on a cake she wouldn't want to eat. How could I keep desert in the theme and still make something she would like? I worried over this for a week and a half before I came up with the answer.
Dirt!! Dirt and worms was a favorite Family Home Evening treat at our house. It had chocolate pudding, Oreo crumbs, and whipped cream. Who could say no to that? The day before the party I mixed up a batch of chocolate cream frosting and added black food coloring. With oval cookies we decorated the top to look like a grave yard.
We even buried a skeleton in the "dirt". Paul wrote "Happy Birthday" on the top because "Halfway to six-feet-under" wasn't fitting very well. We set it in the fridge, and it finished setting up while I stirred up the guts for eggrolls, fixed a blueberry bread pudding to be baked for the birthday breakfast, and cooked a dinner for Paul and I. After cleaning up the ridiculous mess that made I just wanted to sit in the living room and enjoy the soft glow emitting from the coffin.
(Oh, that reminds me. We built a coffin. By we, I mostly mean Paul with occasional help from me.) The night before the big day I only had so much time to bask in the coffins purple glow before I had to go to bed. My mother's birthday would begin at 5:20 when I would be waking up. The blueberry bread pudding had to bake for one hour after sitting all night. In order to have it done in time for the school kids and my dad to eat before work it needed to go into the oven at 6:oo am. Once I was awake I gathered what I needed for the day and Paul drove me over. We snook into my parents house and slipped breakfast into the oven. While it baked, people began to trickle into the kitchen from various parts of the house. When my mom finally appeared we bestowed upon her a most precious gift.
It was a pin for her to wear the entire day. It even flashed festively in birthday delight. She proudly showed it off all day until the battery nearly died.
My aunt took us bowling in the morning. On the very first round of turns as I stood back to take pictures, I watched my grandmother step up to the lane. Positioning herself, she raised her ball and rushed toward the throwing point. It might have been the wind position, or it could have been the tacky bowling shoes, but my little grandmother's feet slipped right out from under her. I stood there with my camera in shook. "Are you okay?" I shouted to her, and she rolled over in an attempt to get up.
"Did you get a picture of that?" she shouted back. I ran over to her. While my mind said, "Help her up," my finger said, "You need to get a picture!" My mind rarely wins these types of battles, so I click clicked a couple pictures of the fallen senior citizen as she helped herself up. Smart, Kayla. Thankfully, she didn't appear damaged. Anyway, I got the lowest score at the end of the game. It must have been some sort of punishment for my rude behavior.
This year our gift for mom was an eye exam and contacts. When my parents started up a business in 2005, money got a little tighter. My mom ran out of contacts shortly after that and wasn't able buy more. Having experienced this first hand, I know how hard it is to adjust back to glasses and hope for a day when contacts are a possibility once more. One afternoon, in September I believe, I was staring at my face in the mirror thinking about contacts when I wished I could get some for my mom. The idea seemed well intentioned but I couldn't even buy contacts for myself. How could I get them for her? Amid my musings, I realized that when I received my first pair of contacts my senior year of high school, my mom was wearing glasses. My whole life has been like that. I have watched my mom buy us clothes when she was wearing old hand-me-downs, purchased new shoes when her were just as worn, and she's painted our bedrooms while her walls are still blank. It was our turn to give back. Each child saved and contributed all we could. My dad helped-- so did my grandma. And we had just enough.
We blindfolded her and drove her to Wal-Mart Vision Center where she had her eyes checked and a pair of contacts put in. It felt good being able to get her something that she really wanted.
After lunch and shopping and dinner it was time for desert at my house. Everyone left the house with Paul and I while my dad stalled my mom. We needed a head start so we could get into our positions. With everyone gathered in my dark living room, we waited until it was time to surprise my mom and bequeath her the cane of oldness. It squeaks when you walk with it. Hee hee.
She came the apartment and we held a brief ceremony and then served up desert. Paul and I picked out some trick candles that Mom blew out in one try. We have since sat at dinnertime lighting the candles over and over again trying to get them to relight. Alas. Cheap trick candles.