Friday, January 13, 2017

"I'm Almost 100"

On Monday, January 9, 2017, Helen Katheryn Williams Kinzbach celebrated her 91st birthday.  Since mid-summer she has been reminding us that she wanted Alan's White Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Icing for her birthday.  "That can be my present."

Background:  During the 3rd month of our marriage, Alan decided to surprise me by making my birthday cake all by himself.  Bless his heart.  He made up some excuse to run over to my mom's house to help her with something knowing that I wouldn't ask to join him because I wouldn't want to get involved in whatever hair-brained project she had roped him into.  [My blog confession about being a bad daughter can be found here:  The Purfict Dotter]    Anyhoo.  Alan spent an entire afternoon - he is a very slow and meticulous baker - making his now famous White Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Icing.  The recipe came from  Southern Sideboards, a cookbook that we received as a wedding gift.  It's listed in the index as "Chocolate Cake, White."  I spent about 30 minutes searching for the "after" pictures taken that March 3rd afternoon by Mom to document the mayhem of ingredients, measuring cups and mixing bowls strewn across the countertops and the numerous open cabinet doors.  [To this day, Alan leaves cabinet doors open in the kitchen when he fetches a dinner plate or a sauce pan.]
The recipe comes with not one, but two icing choices.
I.  Don't.  Know.  I guess Edna couldn't decide.


Alan and my mother were so proud of my 23rd birthday cake.  They thought that it was delicious.  "Best cake ever."  I, on the other hand, am not a fan of white chocolate.  The cake is dense with chopped pecans and coconut flakes inside and toasted almonds on top.  And, truth be told, it's not much to look at.  I prefer light, fluffy white cakes with rich milk chocolate buttercream frosting topped with "Happy Birthday, Carolyn" written in elaborate cursive.  But, on that particular evening, I smiled and made appropriately appreciative nom-nom noises.  When my birthday rolled around the next year, I confessed my love of white cakes with chocolate icing.  But, Mom?  She's been having "Chocolate Cake, White" on her birthday for years.

So, on Monday, January 8, 2017, Alan, Leonard, Granddaughter Kelly and I gathered with Meems and her Wedgewood South Assisted Living buddies in the dining room to have a cake party during lunch.  The "Chocolate Cake, White" was a hit!  Mom barely touched her Shepherd's Pie but licked her cake plate clean.

Her pick for dinner that evening was Abuelo's, a local Mexican restaurant, for her favorite meal:  one cheese enchilada, a scoop of guacamole and "you get a margarita, and we'll share it."

At dinner, Alan thought that we should sing Happy Birthday to Mom one more time.  So we all leaned towards her and quietly sang.  Leonard, her BFF, always tacks on a verse at the end.  He has one volume when it comes to singing - loud.  We call it a "joyful noise." 


How old are you now?
How old are you now?
Toooooo-day is your biiiiirth-daaaay!
How old are you now?

Mom had been rather quiet during dinner.  Mostly, she sat there with a faraway look in her eyes.  She seemed sleepy tired.  She answered most of our questions with "I don't know."  "Mom, do you remember any of your teacher's names?"  "No."  It was as if her brain had already settled in for a long winter's nap. 

After Leonard sang the extra verse of the birthday song, I turned to Mom and said, "Mom, Leonard just sang a question to you.  Are you going to sing an answer to him?"  She sat quietly looking off into the distance at nothing.  Then, very softly, almost imperceptibly, she sang.


I am ninety-one.
I am ninety-one.
I'm almost one hundred.
But now, I'm ninety-one.

We were stunned by her clever reply after the hour of sparse responses.  We laughed and praised her quick wit.

As we were leaving the restaurant, we stopped at the entrance to say goodbye to Leonard who was to be driven home by Alan.  There were hugs and "happy birthdays."  Then, out of the blue mom said, "Mrs. Higgins."  "What, Mom?" I asked.  "Mrs. Higgins...[long pause]...She was my teacher."  I was so proud and happy for her.  The answer to the question asked during dinner had finally bubbled up from somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of her memory.  Oh, happy day!

She is ninety-one.
She is ninety-one.
She re - mem - bered Mrs. Hig - gins.
And, impressed us a ton!

Happy Birthday, Meems.  You make Mrs. Higgins and me proud.



1 comment:

ironwife said...

I LOVE this blog post!!!! Happy, happy birthday, Meems!!!!