My husband Dave’s birthday is on or just after the first day of Fall. Perhaps that is why his mother began baking him plum sauce cake for a birthday cake. Certainly the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves fill the house with an aroma that speaks Autumn’s name.
Originally Dave, who has been living and working in Arizona since June of 2012, had planned to drive to his brother’s in Temecula, CA on his birthday to see his parents while they were visiting there. I had planned to mail the cake there. Then Dave’s mother died on August 17th. She’d been unwell for some time, but seemed to be coming back in inches. Dave had gone to see her and his dad just the week before. I am grateful that this first injury occurred while he happened to be at home surrounded by our household.
I remember when I first met Dave’s parents. I told them that I was happy to meet the people who’d raised such a nice son and on top of that raised seven of them! My four paled by comparison. I went on to discover that all of the boys were not just nice, but extraordinary in their humor, sense, and hearts. I still believe that they are marvelous people because they were raised by marvelous people. They’ve only to look at each other and see what gifts their parents gave to them—each other. As an only child, I believe I know what that means.
Dave, the second of the seven, had joked that had he been a girl there would have only been two Haeck offspring. Dottie laughed and said, “Noooo, that’s not true. I just love children.” That is the truth. She loved children so much that besides raising her own seven she did daycare for neighborhood children. Some of them attended her memorial and spoke with such love of this little woman.
Early in our marriage Dottie gave me the recipe for plum sauce cake neatly printed on old fashioned recipe cards—we didn’t have a computer then. Today as I looked at those cards and measured and mixed Dave’s cake I felt her presence and although I know that this cake will be little compensation for losing a mother, much less losing both parents—for today, one month after Dottie’s passing, Dave’s dad joined her, her name on his lips.
I am grieved that Dave is 1,500 miles from those who love him this night when he is feeling so, so, alone. I cannot hug or comfort him—only bake a cake that I’ll put in the mail tomorrow for his birthday on Sunday. I know from experience the cake won’t make Dave’s heart heal for nothing ever truly heals these losses. As the seasons of the Earth are changing so is the season of Dave's life and I hope that in the cake he’ll taste the memories of other birthdays when everyone he loved was still alive.