Last night we celebrated my daughter’s 37th birthday. I made a cake the day before, an applesauce cake with caramel icing. My sister and I had fun making it from the Shrine Mont cookbook. The extended family goes to Shrine Mont, an Episcopalian mountain resort in Orkney Springs, VA. The food there, served family style, is really good so I figured this cake recipe would be good, too.

On the morning of September 23, yesterday, I invited my mother, her husband, my sister and niece to join us for dinner. After church work that morning, I polished silver, dusted the house, vacuumed and scrubbed out bathrooms. My sister arrived with her dog grooming set and we gave Tucker the Westie a sleek party coat.

Later, we set the table with my great grandmother’s white table cloth and my grandmother’s silver candle sticks. The blue Furnivals Quail china, that Mom sent to California and we moved to Virginia, looked beautiful as the late afternoon sun shone on the table.

Dinner was not difficult to make. The acorn squash, peas and Tilapia were almost ready when the doorbell rang at 7:00. In came Mom and Richard with two bottles of Scotch and wafts of aftershave and perfume. The party was on.

My husband sat at the head of the table and looked very happy as we discussed the health of my niece, the Pope’s visit to the USA, and the general condition of life on Earth.

After dinner, we moved into the kitchen where we filled the flutes with champagne and put candles on each slice of cake.


After we made our wishes, we blew out the candles and settled into the living room. Richard asked if he could tell what he wished for. Everyone said, “NO, it’s bad luck,” and laughed. But my mother thought for a moment and said, “I wished she was here.”

My daughter, the birthday girl, celebrated her last birthday twenty-one years ago when she was 16, but we’ve been making her birthday a happy occasion ever since. It’s a day we can never forget or ignore. By the way, the cake was fantastic.