Many of you that know me personally know I make a big deal of my birthday. I really have no TV related story for my blog but I thought I’d share a birthday from a few years ago. It’s not exciting or historical, just what would probably be seen as a typical moment in atypical family.
Before I go into the story, I do need to preface that
1) The people in the household were Mom, Dad, my grandmother Nana and Nora (her sister)
2) My mom’s mental state is way to complex to go into here, but she had lots of health issues, both mental and physical. That never stopped her for wanting her to get her own way in everything. She was far from the ordinary Mom and my grandmother, Nana, was the person who performed the traditional role of cooking, cleaning, running the household.
3) Nana was usually the poster child of manners and etiquette. She was also a Methodist minister’s widow and took great pride in being “Christiany” (as she would put it).
This was several years ago but I had definitely moved into my own place by that point. Naturally on my birthday I would go to my family house as Nana would make us all dinner and cake to celebrate the occasion. For birthdays and holidays, we ate in the fancy dining room which was in the front of the house. Mom sometimes would sit and eat dinner with us, and normally she expected Nana to make a particular cake only for her (no matter who’s birthday it was) but that year she had decided to go on a strict diet. So when Nana asked her what kind of cake she wanted, Mom told her it wasn’t necessary to make one for her. Nana was already in her eighties by that point, and didn’t feel that well so she chose to take what my Mom said at face value. When my birthday arrived, Mom’s back was hurting so instead of sitting and eating dinner with us she would go into the den (rear of house) and watch TV until we got done. She would like to have some cake later though was the last thing she said as she left the room.
At the mention of her wanting cake, Nana began fretting. Apparently, she hadn’t felt good and decided to make a rather small cake for just the four of us. “I don’t have enough cake for Alice!” She eventually decided to give up her piece. I told Nana she shouldn’t have to do that and Mom could have mine. But it was my birthday and I should have cake.
So we are sitting there and someone knocks on the door (in the back). Dad happened to be up then (probably getting mom an iced tea) and went to answer it. It was our next door neighbor Mrs. Wong. She had this bad habit of locking herself out of her house and needed to use our phone. She made a phone call to her husband and then she went back outside to wait. Well, it was NOVEMBER and cold. You could see her out there just freezing. I told Dad I couldn’t believe he let her go back outside and he needed to ask her back in and Nana was like, “Wait!”
We looked at her. “What?”
She said, “I don’t have enough cake!” Nana was of the old school regime that you offered guests in the house dessert. I told her technically Mrs. Wong wasn’t a guest but before she could help herself, Nana offered her a piece. There went Nora’s piece. Mrs. Wong sat with my Mom in the den. Knowing Mrs. Wong couldn’t speak much English I can imagine how the conversation went. But they were eating cake.
So we sat down (we still were working on dinner) and the door knocks and we remain in the dining room. We assume it’s Mr. Wong but then we hear this deep BOOMING voice and I was like, “Who is that?”
Dad’s eyes got big, “Ugh, it’s Mr. Hopper.” Mr. Hopper was a new neighbor on the other side and he had been driving Dad nuts borrowing stuff over and over. Dad didn’t complain much of other people, but he had of this man.
We all sit there in silence as we hear Mom invite him in. I heard Mom introduce Mrs. Wong and Mr. Hopper. They laughed a bit (I found out later he joked thinking he got the wrong house as Mrs. Wong assumed it was her husband and answered the door). I looked at Dad and asked him if he was going to speak to him. Dad shook his head. “He only wants to borrow something.” I then looked at Nana, “I don’t have enough cake!” Incredibly shy Nora was always petrified to speak to strangers.
Sighing I got up to speak to him and before you knew it, Mom offered him a piece of cake. So, I had to give him Dad’s. I was amused to watch them sitting down in the den together as Mr. Hopper didn’t offer why he came by and I didn’t ask. Mom just rattled on about the weather or something. Mrs. Wong nodded like she knew what she was saying. Mr. Hopper really liked his cake.
I went back to the table and joked we could split the last piece four ways. Then another knock at the door. Finally Mr. Wong was here. I told Nana she better get in there before Mom offered him some cake. Well, wouldn’t you know….it was too late! Mom, Mrs. Wong, Mr. Wong and Mr. Hopper sat in our den chowing down on cake after Nana gave him the last piece. Dad reluctantly got up to see what Mr. Hopper wanted, (he wanted to see if we had an extra phone as theirs had gone out) and Nora and I did the dishes. Nana vowed to never be low on cake again. I think the next year she made 3 for us.