Goblin days

Page One hundred eight

Thursday 28 October 2010       tesseracts in Turners

Oh long ago, somewhere in the mists of primeval something, I gave birth on Sunday 28 October 1979 to a female infant. The only such creature I’ve ever produced. I did not give birth without a whole sideshow of western medical assistance, I’m sorry to say, and even that circus nearly failed to do its job correctly. Enough to say in this spot that I don’t have particularly joyful memories of this birth.

So let’s go to later, which is my focus in this post. Later meaning one year later, and the four years that followed that one. Because this child had a birthday so close to Halloween, I, the Halloween-loving mother, couldn’t resist making the yearly birthday party a Halloween party too. I had felt in my life the lack of festive enough birthday parties. In saying this I don’t mean to paint my own mother as a shirker. She had three kids with three birthdays every year, and she was a person who was not terribly domestic in some things. We had small parties with a few kids, some pin the tail on the donkey and drop the clothespins into the milk bottle, cake and ice cream, and that’s enough. They weren’t horrible parties, by any means, but something particular in Asperger’s-creative-sensitive me had always felt let down somehow, felt that birthday parties should be a bigger deal.


So what did I do for my little one’s parties? I went berserk, of course. I was poor and couldn’t hire clowns and jugglers and storytellers, but I made the biggest frigging bash I could with the little bit of money I had, and with help from relatives and parents of little guests.

I’d start in September, or even late August, buying things. Napkins, tablecloth, candy bags, plates and cups all matching, all in the same Halloween theme. Then balloons. And party favors. And ingredients for the treats to be made. And candy. And sewing the costume for a couple of years. Guest list. Halloweeny invitations.

The guest list was always a long one: relatives, neighbors, and others whom we knew out in the world. Thirty, forty people always, because most of the adults stayed for the party. I meant it that way, as a family party. Almost every adult would bring something to add to the food supply. These events went on for three, four, five hours before the last guest departed. It was a feeding frenzy that seemed to be appreciated by all. There were no planned games: after the gift opening and cake and ice cream, the kids were turned out into the yard to run around, play on the swings and big wheels and whatever, and then my father would hitch his large barrow to his riding mower and give all the kids “tractor rides” around the neighborhood. There was much picture-taking, much shrieking and laughter, great costumes, a little crying, and lots of sugar-highs. All kids went home with little Halloween bags full of more sugar.

When each of these five parties for the first five birthdays was over, I was exhausted and sick and broke. But satisfied, in a way that’s hard to describe. Satisfied that there was plenty of food and plenty of balloons and plenty of play and plenty of presents. Satisfied that I’d extended myself to make my kid’s birthday a very special bash of a day. Satisfied that, though I was a single mother and had little money, my parents and I together could make a big event of this fatherless child’s birthday.

Last year the fatherless child’s father, who denied being her father till the day he died, committed suicide. His parents had recently died as well, and now my daughter, this child who never got one hug or one present or one kind word from her father, will inherit a hefty check from her father’s family’s assets. Once in a very great while, what goes around comes around. She’ll have something from her father at last, something that will help her out in her life. Something I never had the finances to give: a big check. And she got the phone call informing her of all this from his family’s lawyer on October 14 last year, two weeks before her birthday. All unknowing, her father at last gave her a birthday present.

And the parties? If we had continued to live there with my parents, I’d have gone on giving those Halloween bashes until child said she wanted something different. Nevermind exhaustion and sickness and expense. There weren’t too many times in the year when I could do something really shining like that. And I find that as the years have passed, every October I think of those parties and miss them. Miss the time when I could make a shining day for my kid. Miss the costumes and tractor rides and happy shrieking. Miss my father. Miss his house.

She’s 31 today, and I have less money than ever, can’t spend on the birthday the way I did in those days. I console myself with the memory of the five big bashes long ago in the temporal, autumnal mists.

(part of the book Being Toward Death)

~~~~~~~~~~~  website ~~~~~~~~~~~~                                                                            

Frohen Geburtstag



 (poem and crow from greeting card; doll at www.signals.com)




  1. Babs said,

    October 27, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    So beautifully written, I hope that your daughter reads this and shares your memories of such a wonderful time of love and celebration. My grandmother made sure that my birthdays were special and I will always remember those towering pink cakes with huge frosting roses, wilting slightly under the hot August sun. A labor of love is always remembered.

  2. braon said,

    October 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Well Babs, I emailed it to her as a sort of electronic birthday card. No word yet if she liked it. YOUR LITTLE SISTER CAME TO THOSE PARTIES! ~~ Glad your gram made you those cakes. My mother DID do that. She’d make us cut-out shaped cakes and get the designs out of women’s magazines. She did one for one of the bashes one year too, but I did the other four.

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