Tag Archives: birthday

Nostalgia, Love, and Mystery

I sit in a recliner, feet up, listening to silence occasionally interrupted by the moist noise of a dog licking peanut butter from her Kong and the rhythmic whirring of a sewing machine. My friend is in the other room working on a project as I breathe and find space after an unusually difficult day.

This is my friend’s house, the door generously open to me for some time away from my own mess. I don’t notice a bit of hers. I relax into the kindness of her giving as I receive stillness.

Last week she made lunch and we caught up with each other after a month of being apart. She is a heart friend who knows me and gets me and sees me. We talked and laughed and cried over many things. Time flew.

This is your birthday lunch. What would you like?

She offered two options. I chose the one that kept us where we were, making salads as we continued talking. We walked from the living room to the kitchen. On the counter were two cake boxes.

Those are your birthday cakes. They are thawing. I wasn’t sure what you would want for your birthday. I stood in front of the freezer at the grocery store way overthinking it. Do I get key lime pie? Then I told myself just stop and listen, and these cakes called my name. I have never bought them before. They are not at all what I was looking for.

Waves of nostalgia washed over me as I snapped a picture to send to my sisters. Their replies rolled in quickly.

It was Mom guiding.

Are we surprised? This is sweet.

Can’t make it up.

I agree. Any white cake was Mom and a nice cup of cawfee. (Can you hear my accent?)

Love this! Though the cakes don’t scream Mom to me as much which is interesting. (This is from the youngest.)

The Pepperidge Farm days were definitely Maryland years, maybe Virginia. Pre-Florida. (Time before the youngest.)

Yes, coconut white cake was definitely a Mom memory.

These cakes are the ones Mom got for birthdays or celebrations when we were kids. She liked the coconut and got chocolate for us. Of course I had a slice of each and basked in the nostalgia, love, and mystery.

Happy Birthday, Barbara!

Barbara McClay’s birthday is today.

Facebook tells me this and asks if I want to write on her timeline. Of course I want to wish my mother-in-law a happy day, so I click to her page. Upon arrival, I am also told she is 82. This hits me in the gut with unexpected tears.

82.

Ten years I won’t get with my mom. She died shortly after 72. We are over.

And this is grief. Some days the memories are gentle and sweet. Others they sneak up beside you only to smack the side of your head bringing swift and copious tears.

This part of July still bears innocence when one year ago today memories pop up on my phone. There was no urgency to grab all of the normal time you can because this is all going to flip on its head in a few short weeks.

I didn’t know what was coming.

In fact, I didn’t blog at all last July. I checked. I didn’t write about the camping trip or kayak date or what Mom brought back for me from Michigan. I didn’t record the mundane work I did in my basement studio while Mom worked in her office above me.

I didn’t share that we had a coffee break together or laughed about something silly or that she helped me open a wallflower plugin that I couldn’t quite get by myself. It was all just regular, ordinary. Nothing special.

When you lose someone you love there’s disorientation, coming undone, reorientation, remembering.

In this space of reorientation I am trying to embrace and name honestly the reality of what just happened. I am trying to remember back so that I can look forward. What happened is my mom died. She left. Our time together expired.

And today there is still time with Barbara. So I text her and plan to see her after dinner when she brings over cake and we celebrate her 82 years of life and the gift that she is to the world.

Happy Birthday, Mom McClay! I love you! I’m glad you are here and that there is still time to spend together playing Pokemon-Go and eating all the cake we want. ūüėČ

Listening

I arrive at the blog the day after my 49th birthday with a desire to break silence and write something here.

Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. Proverbs 1:32b, NLT

I feel this today. The cost of complacency. My battle against it as an Enneagram 9 is thick. Lately I have been warring inside to show up in the spaces. Any of them. Every time I do show up anywhere, it is work.

The words in my head are fast and furious. Ushering them through the keys to the page is the battle. I lean in and stand firm at the desk in my tiny home office. Eyeing the clock in the bottom corner of the screen, I invite the words to line up.

Each wants to be first. To say its piece. To jump out before being judged and sent to the end of the line. Time is running short. I have only minutes before the next thing. It’s tempting to pivot away to something else.

It is no secret that our country is in a state of collective trauma and chaos. From COVID-19 and the pandemic to the most recently publicized unjust killings and police brutality against the African-American community, this is a persistent state of unrest.

Cry out for insight and ask for understanding. Proverbs 2:3, NLT

This is where I have been. Crying out and asking. Listening.

Therefore they must eat the bitter fruit of their own way, choking on their own schemes. Proverbs 1:31, NLT

I am examining the bitter fruit in my own life. Ways that I have chosen comfort over truth. Safety over honesty. Blindness over sight.

And what do I do with the bitterness? The feeling of choking? How do I try to escape it by justifying instead of naming honestly? How do I rush to feel better at the cost of ignoring the plight of another?

I can still breathe.

I have more questions than answers. Where do I turn outside of myself? Who do I listen to and heed?

I am listening to my brothers and sisters of color. To faithful leaders who are doing the work of teaching and leaning in to reconciliation. I do not have answers which is why I am quiet.

I am listening.

Learn all you can

From those who are wiser

Practice doing what is right, just, and fair.

Fearing the Lord

While listening to counsel

From genuine heart~friends

Will help you grow wise. 

~thoughts on Proverbs 1~

Ice Cream Birthday Cake

Today is my and Little Mae’s birthday. I am sharing our cake creation with you here as we spend the day celebrating another year of life together with our family.

We agreed upon an ice cream cake. The recipe we use is one that I remember Aunt Caryl introducing to the family when I was a girl. It has ice cream sandwiches as the base layer in a 9×13 pan followed by a layer of softened ice cream. Finally¬†Cool Whip is¬†spread on top.

That’s it!

Our week began on Monday with Steve’s new job and Mae and I home together. We went to¬†Sharp Shopper, the local grocery outlet, for some items. While we were there, I found the ingredients for our cake, only slightly varied.

That is the way it is with Sharp Shopper. You have to hold expectations loosely and be willing to improvise. Things are usually slightly varied.

Here are the ingredients purchased for our cake.

Instead of ice cream sandwiches which they didn’t have, I bought chocolate ice cream sandwich making wafers, which they did. I bought two cartons of¬†Moose Tracks¬†frozen yogurt and two cartons of¬†Cool Whip¬†light topping.

For you locals, the only reason I didn’t use the Pumpkin Pie ice cream is because it is a shared cake. ūüėČ

In the bottom of a glass 9×13 baking dish I placed a layer of chocolate wafers.

A carton of softened frozen yogurt was spread over the chocolate wafers. If these were ice cream sandwiches they would have ice cream in them already, but this is the Sharp Shopper version.

A second layer of wafers went on the softened frozen yogurt.

Another carton of frozen yogurt was spread over it all.

The final layer was Cool Whip, two 8oz cartons. I sprinkled everything with rainbow sprinkles and wrote with chocolate icing.

The finished cake went in the freezer, uncovered, to set the writing before covering it with foil to save for today. We will enjoy it after our birthday dinner!