Happy Birthday to my Daddy.
My little mama made this man a Boston Cream Pie almost every year for his birthday for as long as I could remember. This was his first birthday since Mom passed and I wanted it to be perfect. I was teary-eyed several times during the few days surrounding his birthday because I just hate this loss. It truly sucks. But as for the Boston Cream Pie, latter years I have to admit Mom would buy one for him because it was much easier and almost as delicious. This year I hoped to try and fill the void a little with a homemade version.
Looking back over the last few days, I’m not certain what was the specific cause for all the tears. Ever since January 28th when the world as we knew it crashed, all of our family birthday’s have been the first without her early morning phone call or voicemail singing Happy Birthday, or her phone call to me so we could make the menu for the feast that would be shared. (We know how to put away some food around here! Ha!) But my heart has ached for each specific person on their special day for the individual grief that would be experienced only within themselves. My little brother and my precious niece were the first birthdays without her. Since then, my son, my sister-in-law, my daughter, my nephew, my husband and now my Dad have all had their first birthday without her. But I wasn’t truly certain if my tears were for Dad missing her on his birthday, me missing her with the preparation for his birthday menu or if it was for the fact that this was also the six month mark of her passing. I had no idea. I only knew it was a struggle for several days.
I wish I could say this Boston Cream Pie was as good as Mom’s but I can not. It looked fairly okay, tasted fairly okay, but was most assuredly not the same. See, during the making of this Boston Cream Pie, the top cake layer cracked, of all things. Some cussing definitely occurred but more than that, tears occurred as well. Just a stressful day all together. I got done with the tears, regrouped, squished the cake together and covered it with frosting.
Magic. No one else had a clue. Nice! (Later, I was finally able to chuckle at the hidden chaos; more evidence that chocolate does fix all.) Ha!
God…the pressure of this cake though. Through the years, my sweet mama definitely had the occasional issue but for this one year, I just visualized a perfect creation for Dad’s Birthday. A perfect creation was not to be had. Ha!
Why did it have to be perfect? I guess I just assumed the day was hard for him as well. No Happy Birthday first thing that morning. No birthday breakfast. No constant little comments or texts making the day more special with birthday reminders. Everything was just different.
I cooked supper for Dad on the actual night of his birthday and tried to make sure it was all yummy. Hamburger Steak, rice loaded down with butter and cooked in homemade chicken broth, white peas that Mom had put up the summer before and of course…Boston Cream Pie. Don’t worry, I had already calmed myself and made it look as nice as possible. I didn’t want his day to pass without some acknowledgement of his birthday. I just couldn’t. Yes we had a shindig planned for Saturday with friends and extended family, grilling and chilling; exactly how we do things. But I simply couldn’t let his actual birthday go by without something. Why? Why was this so important to me? Because this was how my little mama handled it every year. No matter what was going on around us, birthdays were meant for special meals and family time. No matter if a big gathering was planned for the weekend before or after; a Birthday was a birthday and it was meant to be celebrated.
In the heat of the battle…wanting everything to be perfect, planning this meal, planning Saturday’s meal, making certain every detail was covered, deciding how I would duplicate the old Boston Cream Pie Mom used to make, making certain to call Dad’s birthday in to the local radio station for a chance to win the birthday cake…what did I neglect to do? I never bought the man a present. Ha!!! So on the night of his birthday, after the food was cleared, candles blown out and kitchen cleaned up I asked, “Dad, what do you want for your birthday?” Well, in typical Dad fashion, he commented, “well Baby I don’t really want anything or need anything”. Okay well that was not helpful. Ha!
So, the days rocked on. My baby brother and I finished the final pieces to Dad’s Birthday shindig menu. Groceries were purchased. We cooked. We grilled. We ate. We socialized. We laughed. We cried. We laughed some more.
I felt my sweet Mama smiling during that day because I knew we had honored her wishes. We were taking care of Dad the best way we knew how. She asked us so many times during her last year to take care of him. We are doing just that, mama.
My brother and I cling to each other through this carrying on business. Sometimes we’re in control of our grief. Sometimes our grief is in control of us. But all we know to do is to carry on. She would have it no other way.
In all of my stress and concern regarding making things perfect, you must know two things about my Dad’s first birthday without my sweet mama. I never got around to buying this man a birthday present and that Boston Cream Pie ended up upside down and jumbled in a storage container the night we ate it. He didn’t want plastic wrap messing up the chocolate frosting top layer…so upside down in a deep container was better. Ha!
Maybe next Birthday, not so serious Paula. Ha!
Oh, and since I’m apparently writing out my confessional, I suppose I should say, I’m not actually sipping coffee right now because I drank too much earlier today. Ha!
But, happy birthday Dad! I hope you had fun, enjoyed the food and felt how much we love you! ~paula
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