Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

90

It's my Dad's 90th birthday today!
We're off to celebrate.
But first, a memory from eighty years ago exactly . . .

Grandpa Stringam and his seven sons. Dad is the little guy in the front.
My Grandma Stringam had a great sense of humour.
It didn’t emerge often.
But when it did . . .
It was my Dad’s 10th birthday.
Preparations had been ongoing in the family kitchen for most of the day and for Dad, forbidden the hallowed hall, the anticipation was palpable.
Finally, he was called in and settled in the place of honour at the family table.
The meal commenced.
Amid much laughter and badinage, it continued.
Finished.
And the much-anticipated cake was finally brought out.
It was one of Grandma Stringam’s triumphs. A great, tall, beautifully-frosted tower of perfection.
Grandma set it in front of Dad and, for the first time in his life, handed him the knife.
Ooh, the excitement! The responsibility! The trepidation . . .
Dad carefully poked the blade of the knife into the mound of frosting. Slid it down to the surface of the cake itself. Watched as the blade bit into the soft deliciousness.
And it was there that things came to a sudden, inexplicable halt.
Literally.
The knife simply wouldn’t go any further.
It  . . . stopped.
Dad pushed a bit harder. No progress.
Cakes were harder to cut than he had anticipated. He exerted all the pressure of his ten-year-old arm.
Nothing.
His mother, standing beside him, said, “Maybe you need to try another knife.” She duly handed him a long knife with a serrated edge.
Dad set the first one down and reached for the second.
Tentatively, he poked the blade through the frosting and into the cake. Again the knife stopped just past the surface.
This time, though, as he sawed the blade back toward himself, something unexpected came with it.
A tiny strand of something white and . . . fluffy.
Dad reached for it. Rolled it between his fingers.
Cotton.
He frowned. What was cotton doing in his cake?
He sawed the blade once more. More cotton.
He glanced suspiciously at his mother.
Who was grinning hugely.
Oh.
Grandma had baked his perfect cake, then cut the top off, hollowed it out and filled it with cotton. Carefully reassembling it, she had frosted it and set it before her brand-new ten-year-old.
Now, laughing heartily, she went back into the kitchen and returned with the inside. Just as carefully frosted and decorated.
Fortunately, this one cut – and ate – easily.
Ten-year-old birthdays.
So exciting. So memorable.
For so many reasons . . .

P.S. Happy Birthday, Daddy! I love you!

19 comments:

  1. How appropriate that your father was born on April Fool's Day - and it sounds like the acorn didn't fall from the tree :) That was a lot of work Grandma went to, to play a joke on him. She must have loved him dearly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And please wish your dad a super Happy Birthday from a far-off fan!

      Delete
    2. Hmmm . . . acorns . . . does that mean we're a family of nuts? :)

      Delete
  2. I love every story about your dad - and now I have one more reason to like him - it's my hubby's birthday today too! Hope you guys have a great time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obviously, only the greatest people are born on that date, Lana! :)

      Delete
  3. Since his birthday is April1st, I'm sure many tricks have been played on him over the years. I wish him a very happy birthday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mostly we hear about the tricks HE played. :)
      And thank you very much!

      Delete
  4. Happy Birthday Diane/s Daddy......may all your cakes be delicious (with no nasty cotton inside).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Happy Birthday to your Dad. I loved the memorable story. I think birthday's should have great memories. I loved this one!
    Sending hugs your way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, LeAnn! I'll forward that . . . :)

      Delete
  6. A practical joke birthday cake! That almost seems cruel. But funny too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was only cruel until the real cake came in. Then it was yummy! :)

      Delete
  7. Happy Birthday, Mr. Stringham!!!! What a lovely story and a great trick!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Rena! I'll let him know! :)

      Delete
  8. Your grandmother is precious. I know your ten-year-old dad enjoyed the day and memory.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've been away from my computer, so didn't see this till now. A very happy belated birthday to your dad - who I feel I know somewhat through your writing! Wishing him many more happy years! Your grandma sounds like she was pretty awesome too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Susan! He is my best friend. I'll pass it along!

      Delete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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