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Reflections on Birthdays Past

Thank you all very much for the birthday wishes.  I appreciate them so much and they really made me feel special.   But the thing is, birthdays aren’t easy for me.  It’s not turning a year older or feeling like time is going too fast or anything like that.  It’s that I really miss my mom on my birthday.  She’s the one who would make me my favorite dinner, know just the right present to buy and bake me a red velvet cake because I loved red velvet cake.  Let’s face it, she’s the only other one who was there on that day – it was sort of her birthday, too.  She got what my birthday meant.

And the truth is that no one will ever make me feel as special as my mom did on my birthday.  So, when my day rolls around I tend to get kind of emotional and sort of needy and mostly hard to please.  Ask Dale and he’ll tell you all about it.  Ahem.

I did some things this time to honor my mom, though, and I feel pretty good about that.  Saturday night we had friends over for dinner and I the same dinner that my mom used to make for me on my birthday.  We had roast chicken and stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, Brussels sprouts and acorn squash.  I baked a pumpkin pie for dessert because its my favorite kind of pie.  It was a lot of work but I enjoyed every minute of it because I felt like I was honoring my mom and doing something special for my friends (and me) all at the same time.  It took some of the sting out of the day.

On Sunday, my actual birthday, Dale and I went to the beach.  I sat and knitted, listening to the waves and enjoying the warmth of the sun.  I thought about how much I love the beach and how I got that love of the beach from my mom.  After we left the beach Dale and I had a wonderful dinner in Plymouth and I thought about the times that my parents took me out for my birthday.  I was just a little girl and they would always secretly tell the waitress it was my birthday and after dinner she would bring over a cake.  I was taught, from about the age of 4, that I should pick out another couple in the restaurant and I should share my cake with them.  I loved looking around the restaurant during dinner and contemplating which couple would get part of my cake.  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I can still some see of the faces of those people all these years later.  It was a really special thing for my parents to teach me and I’m grateful for those lessons.  I hadn’t thought about it in a long time and I’m really glad those memories came back to me yesterday.

I still miss my mom and I still wish she (and her red velvet cake) could be with me on my birthday.  I’m still learning – even after 11 birthdays without her – to live with the loss, to enjoy the memories, and to not expect anyone else to be able to take her place.

Looking back, moving forward, finding peace.  I guess that’s what life is all about.

This Post Has 62 Comments

  1. Wow! What a lovely post, and sounds like a great birthday – please accept my belated best wishes, and excuse me while I go call my Mom

  2. What a lovely tribute to your mom. It sounds like she was a really special lady. Honoring her for your birthday is such a beautiful idea.

  3. Hugs to you, sweetie. I can just see your mom looking over your shoulder while you made “her” dinner.

  4. Big birthday hugs to you – a day late (so typical of me these days!). It sounds like you had a great day and beautiful memories of your mom.

    And gee – pumpkin pie is MY favorite pie too!

  5. Great post. Yeah, life goes on, and we can’t carry everything or we’ll never keep up… but we can leave some stuff where we can always find it again. I love the way you celebrated.

  6. What a wonderful way to honor your mom. It’s never easy to go forward without those that we love, but finding ways to keep their memory alive as you did helps keep them close in our hearts.


  7. I miss my dad so deeply on my birthday too. I think it is a reminder of how profound loss diminishes even our most joyful moments. I remember that first year being really surprised, feeling like I was just having a birthday pity-party, and then I later realized that it is a very common experience for people who grieve for their parents.

    Happy birthday, Carole.

  8. What a sweet post. I’m sure your mom wishes she was there too. It’s so nice that she made sure that your birthday was special, just like you do for Hannah. Happy Birthday Carol! I’ve never made red velvet, but I make some awesome devil’s food cake.

  9. Hi Carole,
    I have been reading your blog for a while and enjoyed it very much. I too had a birthday this past weekend and I can totally relate to your post. I lost my mother 32 years ago, I was just nineteen and I’m here to say I still miss her every single day, but most especially on my birthday. And so I agree with you, it’s not about the growing older at all…it’s about how much I still miss mom.

  10. Carole that was such a beautiful post. It’s wonderful that you were able to incorporate your memories into your birthday in a way that honored your mother and celebrated your day. I hope that it gave you the comfort that you needed.

  11. Crying, just a little, on a Monday… so sweet, Carole. I’m glad you had such a nice birthday weekend. I totally understand what it is to be without your mom on your birthday. At least a few other people still recognize the date! Your dinner sounds fabulous, and I love the story about sharing your cake. What a great thing.

  12. A beautiful tribute to your mom, and to the lovely gal she birthed, as well!
    I lost my mom 12 years ago..and you’re right, you never stop missing them.
    Still, I think you did some wonderful stuff to honor your day..I bet she’s smiling down on you now…

  13. You got Brussels sprouts on your birthday? Did they hate you? 😉
    Lovely post about your mom. Birthdays were never my mom’s thing – I always miss her most at Christmas. The woman even had decorations for the bathroom!

  14. what a lovely way to pay tribute to your Mom, and to honor the complex emotions that arrive with your birthday.
    We know how wonderful she was, because.. well… just look at you!

  15. A wonderful post. I like the spin you put on your birthday by honoring your mom. I too, miss mine. As a child she made me a lovely birthday cake- a chocolate layer cake with a thin layer of apricot jam and mocha butter cream frosting. It was finished with toasted ground almonds and chocolate curls. The best part were the roses handpicked from her garden that were tucked into the base and a few placed in the center hole. Like yours she made my day especially special- complete with a handmade papier-mache pinata. I think I’ll go get my photo album and remember…… thank you.

  16. What an amazing woman your mom must have been – the stories you tell about her are always so moving, and paint a picture of an extraordinary person.

    I think that when you’ve lost someone and something so integral to your own sense of yourself it is almost impossible for anyone else to live up to the memory of what you’ve lost. All you can do is what you did – find a way to honor what was while being thankful for what is.

    Lots of love to you…

  17. Belated Happy Birthday wishes….and I know what you mean. I was born on my mother’s birthday, and she died only a few days after her 70th. It was the first year, too, that we didn’t get together for a dinner or lunch (she wasn’t feeling well) so I have a bit of a problem with my birthday, to say the least. It’s not just the cakes or other celebratory memories, every birthday I celebrate is one more she doesn’t!

  18. Belated birthday wishes, Carole! Whoops! That was nearly bleated birthday wishes, but with sheep and all that, maybe it would work.

  19. I am so glad you had a wonderful birthday weekend.

    I think that’s it. We find ways to honor our loved ones without the weight of carrying their loss with us through every day. In theory, it gets easier and we find better ways to bring ourselves comfort. I am very glad that you have found and remembered ways to do that.


  20. I lost my mom to cancer 7 years ago in February. I still miss her everyday but especially around my birthday and holidays. Like you I do things she would have done to keep her memory alive. This is so much more important to me now that I am a mom myself and know that my son will never know what a wonderful grandma he had. I know though that she looks down on us and smiles now that she has a grandson and her baby is a mother.

  21. I’m glad you found a way to honor your mom. It sounds like you had a nice birthday and that all those nice memories came back to you. Beautiful post Carole and Happy (belated) Birthday!

  22. You wrote just the kind of thing we all secretly hope our kids will write someday. How lovely! And happy belated birthday to you Carole!

  23. Carole, what a wonderful tribute to your mom and how special she must have been. Love the idea of sharing your cake with someone else in the restaurant. That is so special!!!

    Your dinner party sounds so nice…and the menu sounded great! I haven’t had roast chicken with stuffing in a long time….hmmm…

  24. Wow, what a great tribute to your mother. I love the idea of sharing your cake. That is so nice and must be a nice surprise for the recipient.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  25. You have really made me think about what a birthday means – which is really a needed reminder for me since my birthday is tomorrow. Here I have been upset more about turning 28 and still living at home, but what I should be doing is treasuring the times and memories I am making so that someday in the future I can remember the good times. Thank you for the reminder and have a wonderful birthday.

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