My birthday. Number seventy-five. They don’t mean much anymore. Just another long lonely year crossed off the calendar. I guess I’ve had too many to really care much about them.
When my wife was alive they meant more. She had a way of making them a special occasion, something to celebrate. And she always made that same delicious lemon chiffon cake, my favorite, and I think hers too.
She would spread the white lace tablecloth that she had crocheted on our small table, place her hand embroidered napkins on plates once owned by her grandmother, set a hot pot of tea on the table along with cups and saucers, light a candle, and serve a big slice of her chiffon cake. We always gave thanks for being blessed with another year. We would enjoy the cake, sip the tea, and talk for a long time, usually until the candle burned down and went out.
Oh, how I miss those talks and how I miss her. It’s been two years now since she joined the heavenly choir that she and I often talked about. She always said that she didn’t want to go without me and I said the same about her, but as it turned out she went first and I wish it had been me. Somehow I think she would have adjusted to being alone better than I have. I’m lost without her and I can’t seem to get over having her gone.
She had a way of making every day bright and the future optimistic. During all the years when we had to squeeze pennies to make ends meet, she always had a smile, she always made our meals seem like a banquet. We couldn’t go out much, so she would play beautiful songs on the old upright piano and get me to sing with her. We would usually end up laughing and talking about how meaningful the words were and the day would end on a bright note. She brought so much joy into my life.
The old upright piano still sits where it always did. Her favorite songbook is still open to the page of the song she last played. It just happened to be our wedding song, “I Love You Truly.” She was ill and weak, but she played it for me one last time.
Sometimes late at night I think I can hear her playing and singing those old familiar songs. I think I can smell the soft scent of her perfume. I keep waiting for her to walk into the room and smile and speak in her soft voice.
Memories flow through my mind as I sit in the quiet of my small apartment, and I think about all the good times we had with our children and grandchildren. We were blessed to have such a wonderful family. We had so many good times together.
I wonder as the clock nears midnight if the children will remember. I wonder if the phone will ring. It’s okay if it doesn’t. Birthdays don’t matter that much to me anymore. They’re just another day. I sit in my chair listening to the clock tick. It seems so loud. And memories keep flowing through my mind….all the good family times. I wonder if they’ll remember.