Today is my birthday.
As I count the years I have lived, I see a world so different from the one I was born into; some for the better, some to the detriment. I think of the people I have known, the things I have done and the places I’ve been, and the memories I treasure.
I remember some birthdays as special, not for the presents, but for the things that were done with love. It was my father who always strove to do the loving thing. He was not good at expressing himself verbally, but he would do little things that let me know that he’d thought of me. In late summer a small packet of raspberries would magically appear on the table. He knew they were my absolute favorite in the world, and they were very dear.
When I was in grade school, he contrived a silly game for one of my birthday parties. He spent hours creating this. Each guest and I were given one end of a string. We were to follow that string, wrapping it onto the small stick it had been bound to, following it to the end to the prize at the end. He strung the yard and garden. It was the best fun we ever had at a birthday. He enjoyed watching us as we unraveled the maze in the yard he’d created.
My father also loved to cook. At some point in time he made a spice cake with caramel icing. It became my favorite from then on. Once again, that quiet, shy man would spend the time to make the spice cake from scratch, and whip up the caramel icing in the saucepan filling the house with the fragrance of butter and sugar as it blended. Wordlessly, there would be my cake, my father smiling with pride in the creation of a confection of love.
It has been years since I’ve had that particular cake. My father has been gone now for nearly twenty-five years. I am fast approaching the age he was when he died. For my birthday this year I went to the bakery and ordered a spice cake with caramel icing. As I brought it home and set it on the kitchen counter, I wondered if it would be close to the cake of memory made with so much love.
I sliced into the cake, and the spices wafted my way, calling me back to birthdays from the past. I tasted the cake, one small forkful. The blend of the spice and the caramel melted on my tongue, and I was back in the home of my youth, a cake before me, made by my father, a kind, reticent and gentle man who loved his children, but didn’t know how to say it. He could only try to do the little things that let me know I was loved.
For my birthday, I wish everyone love, joy and peace. Remember to do the little things that can make all the difference in a person’s life. Right now, I’m going to go enjoy another piece of my spice cake with the caramel icing.