The June Granny died, I bought this frame for another June scene. I love how it shows Granny's face and the look of adoration on mine as I sit in her lap, Daddy in the background, and an orange chiffon cake, my favorite. She made the most beautiful 2 or 3 layer cakes, always from scratch and I loved them, almost as much as I adored her! For the record, this picture is not of my birthday because it was my dad's favorite cake, too and she made it for him, I'm sure of it. The two of them shared a birthday, but we three shared the birthday month of June as does my first cousin, Catherine, and my sweet little niece Kitty was born on Daddy and Granny's birthday, just days ago. Special month.
Fast forward about 30 years to another story of a sweet faced girl and an orange chiffon cake.
It has never ever crossed my mind to make a cake like my Granny's but my sweet husband knows this is my favorite, so Monday night sent Molly Mae and me out to a church meeting and left Anna Cate in a chef's hat and BJ with a recipe from Molly Bates making this cake for me!
What would my Granny say that a man was making a cake?! Probably, something sweet like, "I declare....."
It looked so good that I told Anna Cate we would eat it for breakfast the morning of my special day, meaning I certainly could not sleep in because I had to open my cards......and eat the cake! Believe me I tried, " IT IS MY BIRTHDAY!!! PLLLLEEEEEAAAAASE let me sleep in!"
And so the day began. I had a babysitter for Molly so that I could do a few things:
-not stress about juggling two kids for AC's first swimming lesson
-go for a long run in the battlefield
-go to a Mommy and me lunch with Anna Cate.
But after I took Anna Cate to her swimming lesson, she decided she would rather stay at home with the babysitter than lunch with Mommy. Fighting with a 4-year old WASNT on the list for the day, so at least I had the long run!
Because of Fredericksburg's location between Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, and Washington, DC, this area saw much fighting during the Civil War on two separate campaigns, and those battlefields are now preserved by the Parks Services. As much I love history, the real reason I love running on the tree-lined roads is that I think it reminds me of the nautral beauty of Hickman County, and it is the only place I can truly clear my thoughts.
In nature, I lose my ego. I just breathe, run and listen to my music. And wow, did my playlist provide some food for thought in this jaunt to celebrate my 34th year and look upon my 35th. I won't bore you with all the songs or the thoughts.
I heard, "what a man, what a man, what a mighty fine man" and I'm not sure if BJ knows the "tighten up" or the "funky broadway," but he is a mighty fine man. I smiled at this song and thought of him, that I'm very thankful to be sharing this journey with such a committed, competent and loving guy.
And he helps Anna Cate make the cake!
I heard the Melissa Ethridge song about running after cancer, I Run For Life. Well, I haven't had cancer but I've had a life of insecurity worrying about my body, and hell yes, I RUN FOR LIFE! I don't run for a waistline, because I really wouldn't be in it 20 years later as I haven't seen it yet. Running is my buddy like nothing else; it is my companion, always been a part of me. So while the nature reminds me of my home, the rolling hills of middle Tennesse, simply running reminds me of who I am.
I thought about all the years I've been running. I've run the streets of my home town, getting to end my runs at Granny's house in the evenings. I've run the paths of the country of Hickman County, realizing the beauty of waterfalls, rolling hills and fresh water out of springs are so much more significant than my body image. I've run with great family dogs who would either circle me constantly like Sally did, or with Duke who knew not only my route and but my pace to figure out where I'd be (small town means you really don't have to follow the leash laws). On my birthday, I thought of my family, and that included our dogs. (yes, BJ we will eventually get one I promise).
I've run along the cornfields of Iowa, through my beautiful college town, Mount Vernon. I've jogged along streams in Denmark, through military housing communities in Japan, races on both coasts of our country. I've made friends, and I've developed peace and confidence with this simple act of breathing and putting one foot in front of the other at my own pace. So that was my birthday gift to myself: a run, thoughts of gratitude, of my family, of places I've been, people (or dogs) I've run with, prayers I asked, and now prayers I say thank you for, and finding new requests.
After I got home, Anna Cate decided she could go out for a smoothie with me, so here we are with our blueberry stained teeth after my run.
Then, we got ready for our night of celebration. Anna Cate put on her dress up clothes as she awaited her Baba. (on a side note, it stumps me that she can get those clothes on so fast and well as compared to regular ones). Molly needed a tu-tu, too! Ha!
Brenda (Baba) was BJ's mother other (Patti) best friend, and like a second mom to BJ, growing up and now. Ironically, Anna Cate started calling her Baba, which is what many Eastern Europeans call their grandmother. She watched the girls so BJ and I could go out to dinner.
But we needed more cake; it even looks like Molly wanted some, doesn't it?
and candles and the song!
It was a lovely day, and I was given the best gifts. For the sake of posterity, I was blessed with the gift of memories reflected upon and memories made. I imagine what I'll remember most is that Anna Cate didn't want to go to lunch with me, and yes, I shed a tear. I called my Mom to tell her that her gift for giving birth to (difficult delivery) and raising me (she read the book The Strong-willed Child three times before I was 5) was that I had met my match. She responded with a story about that little girl in the top picture.
Mom had arranged for Granny to watch Douglas, who was a baby, while she and I had a "mommy and me" date to go pick blueberries. I insisted on staying with Granny, hurting my mom's feelings.......... I told you I adored her! Well as Granny would say, "I'll declare." But I loved my mom, too, and so I said, "I'm sorry" 30 years later. I'm glad my dear Mother taught me how to find my own happiness by example. She picked blueberries; I run.
As I reflect on my birthday, I think about having another Catherine (Anna Cate is Susanna Catherine for BJ's mom, Susie, and Granny) and another Molly in my life. And how the circle of love and of life is repeating before me in new stories that look a little familiar, but with their own flair....like the orange chiffon cake. Granny's was beautiful and perfect; Anna Cate's was beautiful with sprinkles and fingerprints in the icing.
Here is an image of those two cake makers. I read some letters today that Granny wrote me and took a picture of one. At first, I was annoyed that Anna Cate picked it up as I snapped, changing the picture......but then I see the sweetness of her little hand on that sheet of paper held and written on with my Granny's hand. So this year I declare, it is both the renewing of myself by running alone AND the hands that touch our lives and make our cakes worth celebrating the day I came into this world.