But one memory for me remains clear as a bell...well, like I said, a moment of it anyway.
It was a spring day…May 3rd to be exact. I remember that for sure. But, I only remember the date, not the events of the day. That is - save for only a moment, much as that old quote tells us.
I don’t remember how old I was, but in my memories I feel like 9 or 10. I don’t know the time of day, or what the weather may have been. I don’t remember what I had been doing prior. I’m not sure if I had just arrived home from school, or if I had merely been in the living room watching television. Maybe I was in the midst of reading a good book. I don’t know. I remember it was quiet in the house. I remember the stillness more than anything else. And I remember walking from the living room into the kitchen. The light was not on, but it wasn’t dark; only daytime dark, if you know what I mean. My mama’s back was turned to me as she stood there alone in the kitchen.
"Mom," I probably said, “Whatcha doin’?” And she turned to look at me – a bit surprised. Then she turned back to finish what she had been doing. She was putting birthday candles on a cake that she was obviously trying to hide from anyone’s view. She had left it on the shelf in the cupboard instead of working on the counter or table. I can still see her as she counted out the candles one by one adding them to the two layered cake – white, I think…but I don’t really remember that for sure. She sighed when she saw me. I remember that sigh like it was just yesterday, too. It was the only sound she made.
Sigh – the surprise was blown. I pretended I didn’t see, and walked away without waiting for an answer…I'm not sure where I went. Maybe I stepped back into the living room. Maybe I headed to the bathroom to make her think that was where I was going all along. Maybe I headed downstairs to my room. I don’t know. I only remember the look on her face, the candles in her hand, and the way she stood facing the cupboard, trying to hide the cake. It didn’t work. I saw it.
I made my husband a birthday cake today. I should have done it yesterday, because Matthew and I fixed his birthday dinner last night. But we were busy in town all day and I just didn’t get time to make the cake.
Now, not that I really needed to bake a cake, because I don’t think he really cares. But I simply love the birthday cake tradition, so I wanted to make one, even though it would be late. Growing up, it was our family tradition to never let anyone see the cake before it was time to celebrate and sing happy birthday. So that is what I like to do, too.
As I was beating the batter, all of a sudden I felt like my mom. I mean, it was one of those "Oh wow, I look like my mom moments”. I knew my movements and actions were exactly like hers. I laughed and kept on with my task.
Later after the cake was cool enough to frost, I was in the kitchen putting on the finishing touches by now adding the birthday candles. My husband walked into the daylight, dark kitchen from the computer room, where he had been busy playing solitaire to relax.
Sigh…I looked at him and then back down at the cake.
He pretended not to see. I kept putting on the candles - just like mama - pretending not to see him see. He kept going, walking outside. Brrrrr! It isn’t spring yet! But...the surprise, you know.
Memories fade; moments do not. And I guess for the most part traditions don't fade much, either. But rather, they help keep our memories vividly alive...at least, the moments.