Dust hung in the air, held motionless by the August heat but broken by the gang of four tumbling into the dining room. It’d been a busy morning of adventure behind the garage and we were hungry.
As I slammed into my chair, I saw a birthday cake in the middle of the table. Were we having company?
“Whose cake is that?” my brother piped up.
My mother was still bringing dishes of hot food to the table but she stopped for a moment. “Well, it’s mine. I thought I ought to get a birthday cake this year.”
I was 9 at the time, the oldest of the four who were enjoying summer freedom. We were too young to worry about insurance and phone bills. And calendars.
We all spent the afternoon working on birthday gifts. I don’t know how she felt about pictures drawn on brown grocery bags with crayons. Maybe the stack of chicken feathers warmed her heart.
I’m a mother now and I remember those days of zealous children, selfish in their quest for exploration. I suspect Mom wasn’t devastated by our forgetfulness. But I was.
That day I made myself a promise that I would not forget her birthday again.
I’m a little older than 9 now, but so far, so good.
So, today I’m taking my mother out to lunch. Happy birthday, Mom!