For her 7th birthday, my grandmother gave my mom an orange-flavored cake. It was store-bought and lovely and made my mom, who would have preferred something chocolate and homemade, cry.
During the celebration of her 8th birthday, my mom was so excited that as she inhaled deeply to blow out her candles, she passed out and her forehead landed in the cake. When she woke up, she was laying on the living room couch and her mother was anxiously chattering into the phone, a doctor on the other end of the line. One salt tablet later she was fine.
At her 10th birthday party, my grandparents hired a pony and handler. They set up on the side lawn of the house on Manor Road and gave rides to all the party-goers. At one point, the pony unembarrassedly took a shit (as ponies often do). My grandfather waved the handler away and hurriedly ran for his shovel. In front of the entire party, and his mortified daughter, he scooped up the dung and gently spread it over his tomato plants, as if it were gold.
When she turned 18, her boyfriend and her best friend nearly killed her, by throwing her a surprise party whose secret had been very well-kept. My mother has never been good with surprises, and when she walked into her best friend’s house and experienced most of the people she knew jumping out at her and yelling “Surprise!” she started hyperventilating and fell on the floor. She stayed on the floor catching her breath for more than twenty minutes, while David and Connie hovered over her with concern.
On her 59th birthday, she received a call from her older daughter (that’s me), with the exciting and timely news that said daughter had been accepted to grad school to get a Masters in Writing. She neither cried, fainted, was mortified or lost her breath at the news.
Happy Birthday Mama!