Thirty years ago, I gave E the best birthday present I could think of. It was really the perfect gift, didn’t cost me anything but a little sweat equity and he, as it turned out, was thrilled with her. He has been sharing his birthday cake with our daughter ever since.
Their birth date, landing in the middle of August, timed perfectly with annual family vacations. Often as not we were here on the island on our annual trek to visit E’s dad, when they blew out the candles.
But there were times when we weren’t.
One year we splurged on a very nice cabin on the beach in Naramata. With a planned side trip through the Kootenays on our way home, we booked a well known hotel outside of Nelson. The pictures in the accommodation guide looked appealing. I called to request a three night stay and, for what should have been our first clue, the reservation agent asked “Are you sure?” The decor of our room was reminiscent of my elementary school, with flesh colored cinder block walls, bare floors and an open clothes closet. The much celebrated hot springs were the most horrid cesspool I had ever seen. With all three kids in our bed during the night, miserable, we left for home at 4 am. E spent his birthday driving the Coquihalla in the fog.
One year, with rain predicted across the Province, we cancelled our camping trip the night before we were to leave and, after the kids had gone to bed, unpacked the car of tents and coolers and in the morning headed, instead, south to Disneyland rather than the Shuswap. E spent his fortieth birthday at the Disney Pocahontas live show, twice. The trip came with mixed reviews. We had a great time camping and travelling together, the three male members of our family loved the rides but our daughter, the birthday girl, hated everything about Disneyland. Those of you who know her, won’t be surprised to know that, fifteen years later, she wrote an essay in high school titled “No, it is not a small world after all, please stop singing.”
Four years later the two of them blew out the candles in the St. Paul’s Critical Cardiac Care unit. E had been next up for a transplant that weekend but, ironically, became too ill for it. He ended up waiting seven more months to be healthy enough for the surgery, sick enough to be at the top of the list and at the same time a heart becoming available.
For E’s 60th and her 24th, we had a great party on the island at the family home. Lots of food and wine, friends and family. E danced long into the night.
There have only been two birthdays in thirty years when they haven’t shared their cake. Covid was to blame last year. We are all together again this year and ain’t it great.
I spent the day today making a gorgeous New York Cheesecake to go with the strawberry sauce I made last week for tomorrow’s candle blowing extravaganza. There should be 96 candles on that cake tomorrow. During a heat wave and fire ban I might need to do some
creative number crunching