Today “would have been” my grandmother’s 96th birthday and I can’t help but again think of dozens of woulda’s coulda’s and shoulda’s. If she were here, I would have made chocolate chip cookies to celebrate. I should have done that last year but went for store-bought cake and ice cream instead. I could have put the extra energy into her 95th and made it something we’d all remember for our lifetime.
But then… I do remember the store-bought cake and ice cream. I remember the meal, and her sitting at the head of the table. I remember her acceptance of our gift – and ‘acceptance’ was about as good as it got. I remember her asking me to make her a cup of tea so she could see how much better the new microwave was than the one she’d had before. So, I guess it was a good day.
She’d started to say all her days were the same. That’s never a good thing, and though she wanted to be part of our day, and share our experiences, she just didn’t have the drive to do so any more. She wanted to want to spend time with us outside of the house but no longer had the energy. She was tired and I have to accept that, though it’s hard when I consider all the escapades of my youth and her younger years.
There are too many to detail. Some make me cry as they make me laugh. She drove. Got her license when she was in her 50’s. She had a green Pontiac and once, when I wanted to photograph the sunrise on the beach, she said she’d go with me. And she did. We planned it out – two secret agents on a mission. She lived downstairs from us and was ready with her keys in her hand when I met her in her kitchen at 4am. By 4:30, we were on the beach, squealing at the sight of a beach rat, huddling close, giggling like kids and running along the dock to get away from it down there on the sand. And then we sat on a bench. And waited for the sun to rise. I still have the pictures I took that morning and when I look at them I see the whole thing – not the sun coming up but the fun. The moments. So simple. So special. And fleeting.
And so today, I will celebrate a life that made mine so much more colorful than it would have been otherwise. In her honor, I made something I should have made for her at some point. It’s a treat that, until recently, she made very year for the holidays. Struffoli or “honeyballs”. While she made bowls and bowls of them, I’ve only made one. And in making that one I was reminded of the staying power of that woman. The chutzpah. The energy. I’d never be able to make as many perfect little dough nuggets as she – each browned identically to the others, perfectly matched in size and shape. So when I look at my one bowl I see her, standing at her kitchen counter, rolling the dough into shoestrings, cutting them – thousands of them – frying them, piling them into bowl upon bowl. I see her with brown hair, slightly darker brown hair, grayish hair. White. Changing but always constant.
My one bowl looks somewhat like hers yet something is different. Something is missing. I suppose it will always be that way. We’ll have them tonight to celebrate the life she shared with us and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get up at 4 tomorrow to watch the sunrise. Though I know something will be different, and something will be missing from that moment too.
Let’s face it, unless you’re 12 going on 13 you’re not into aging. At least I know I’m not. Yet, it’s happening every minute of our lives, like it or not. That, I think, is the purpose of birthdays. To remind us that we’ve grown up over the last 365 days. That we’ve aged. And with age comes maturity. Or at least, it’s supposed to. 😕
I celebrate my birthdays. I don’t think of them as a signal that I’ve grown ‘older’ but rather more comfortable. I am who I am and no longer apologize for it. I’ve learned to recognize my weaknesses and am in the process of learning to recognize my strengths – AND acknowledge them. That will take some time for someone like me, but hey, I’ve just reached what I think is the mid-way point so I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me to do just that.
Would I go back in time and be young again? I don’t think so. Maybe 30. I wouldn’t mind that but I don’t long for it. By 30 I’d gotten past a lot of stupid thinking that had me making equally stupid mistakes. Not that I didn’t make mistakes in my 30’s, but they were much less dramatic… or I handled them in a less dramatic way. “Maturity” and all that, ya know?
So now, in my 40’s, I’m comfortable. I realize what it takes to be me. I also realize how much harder it is to be me now than it was a decade ago – it takes more exercise, heavier weights, more concealer under the eyes and a separate towel for when I… ‘fix’ my hair. 😳
I don’t mind getting older. I just don’t like looking the part. Whoever said “Youth is wasted on the young” had it right. And what’s worse is by the time we realize how right that is, our own young are at the stage where nothing we say has any value. Ah, if only we could pass these messages on to them in a language they understand… and hear.
It’s okay, really. I’m happy with who I am. I’ve learned which battles to fight and which to ignore. I’ve learned to gracefully side-step certain situations and I’ve learned how to stand up for the people I love. I’m not quite “there” yet, though. I’m not finished. I’m simply a work in progress. And, unlike the way I felt years ago, at this point in my life, I don’t mind one little bit.
What wonderful weekend weather we had. Mid-70’s both days and just perfect for a fall harvest festival… and birthday party.
It’s Daughter’s annual plan – and her friends wait for it, asking every August if “we’re still on for the party”. There’s a corn maze – that took the girls an hour and 14 minutes to get through, lol – hay rides, colonial cooking demonstrations, arcade games, carnival rides, live music, cotton candy, funnel cakes, greasy bratwurst, sausages and hamburgers, butter-drenched roasted corn, face painting, scarecrow-making and empty pockets by day’s end. But… it was such fun and we’ll do it again next year as every year.
During the colonial cooking demonstration, they churned butter, made bread, corn chowder soup, and cinnamon water. For $2.00 you could have a taste of everything and everything was delicious.
The corn maze is different every year and, honestly, even if it were the same I doubt the girls would find their way out. They have way too much fun getting lost inside of it.
After rides galore and lots of laughs, we closed up the festival and trekked over to the boulevard for a Hibachi dinner. What a fun way to end the day. The girls loved the show the chef put on for them and, surprisingly, tried a little bit of everything he made – including scallops! How’s that for adventurous young ladies?
Of course, afterward, we headed to my house and I took out the cake. I was a little upset with it because, for some reason, it seemed to tilt left. Ah well. I’m not an expert cake-maker. Still… the best part for me was when I took it out and all the girls whipped out their cameras to take pictures of it. lol. What fun.
All in all it was a wonderful day and I know all of those blossoming young ladies will remember the simple fun at the fair each year for Daughter’s birthday.
Here’s just a short taste of our day with photos of the cake at the end. 🙂
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And because I must be getting older along with my daughter, I now realize, I’ve already posted the recipe for this cake. And here, I thought I was going to share it with y’all for the first time. Well… this cake is so good, it’s worth sharing again, so check it out – Chocolate Decadence.