I'll be flying to Georgia tomorrow to spend a few days with my family. My mother will be 86 on Friday, and this weekend seemed like a nice time for a visit.
We've treated our mother to a party before—last year, we threw a shindig at my sister's house for her 85th, and we made the day special for her a few years before that, I believe. Each time, we invited her lady friends from church who come decked in their sweater sets and pearls, and they gather around the tables topped with lace, and they laugh and tell stories and eat coconut cake.
What's a birthday without coconut cake, I always say. OK, I may never have actually said that out loud, but it has become a tradition when celebrating my mother's birthday, and I would miss it if we opted for something else. Coconut cake is a southern staple, and my mother used to make the best cake with seven-minute icing. I called it "crunchy icing" before I knew the real name for it because it hardens on the surface and becomes a little crisp. If it doesn't, you haven't made it properly.
We'll have coconut cake this year for our family party, but we're doing something a little different as well because now Mama lives in an assisted living facility. She's not wild about it and complains every day about being lonely and shut off from the world. So, we're going to have a little party in her new digs. We'll be serving cupcakes at that one and will include all of the residents. And we'll give her a bulletin board decorated to match her room so she'll have a space to keep her cards and calendars and all the other stuff she has typically collected on her side table.
Hopefully, the toothpicks will be put in the trash, though. I don't know what it is with my mother and toothpicks, but she has always cleaned her teeth after dinner while sitting in the chair and reading, and then she leaves the nasty things on the table, for weeks, and they collect, and they gather dust, and she saves them. You could chalk it up to being old, but I remember having to dust the side table as a kid and sweeping toothpicks into the trash. So, no toothpicks on the bulletin board. Or maybe we should create a special pocket for them so she'll have a place to hoard the stash.
Well, I digress as I tend to do. I'll overlook the toothpicks on this visit and focus on the birthday. A few years ago, my mother said never thought she would live that long—she might have been 80 or 81—and now she's 86, her sister will be 81 tomorrow and her brother just turned 90. That's worth celebrating, I think, and coconut cake seems like the perfect way to do that, along with a flight to Georgia.
Here is No. 1 with my mother last Christmas—two generations of fierce women.