Birthdays were always a big deal to my mom, even when we were in our 20s. No matter how tired she was or how sick she felt, she would refuse to go to bed until each and every last dish was ready for the party. She tried to make as many of the dishes from scratch as possible because she said they were “healthier” and they were. Her recipes required very little sodium and the party typically included only one or two fried dishes.
Mom made sure to ask us what we wanted to feed our guests weeks in advance and then hit up all the local grocery stores the week of the party to buy the ingredients needed for her special recipes. My favorite was her homemade kimchi and her shrimp eggrolls, and it never failed that we’d have to roll 200+ eggrolls for each party! Sadly, she was never able to eat much of the food she made because of her medical condition but she never let that ruin her day. You could always find her in the kitchen with a piece of fruit or a bowl of oatmeal in one hand and a big smile on her face as she mixed and mingled with the guests.
We continue to celebrate her life each year by gathering up at her grave site for a picnic. For her birthday today, we celebrated with a delicious seafood meal at The Boiling Crab because seafood was one of the many things she loved eating but had to give up after being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. After lunch I went to buy her a flower bouquet sprinkled with white gladiolius, her favorite flower, and then drove up to Rose Hills. It was a nice day for a picnic; we brought her corn on the cob (one of her favorite snacks) and mini fruit tarts. Mom had a sweet tooth so I know she loved the mini tarts that we bought for her. We hung out with her for a bit while my niece, Kyra, ran around in the grass making funny faces.
Birthdays are not about counting the candles that you have on your cake, the additional year of wisdom you’ve gained, or the gray hair that you find on your head. It’s about celebrating life with the people who are still here with us as well as those who have passed on. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend my day today than with fruit tarts at the top of my mom’s little hill overlooking the 605 freeway…laughing, reminiscing, celebrating, sharing, embracing, and enjoying the peacefulness.