Cupcakes for Life


That’s Aunt Kay’s line for birthdays—”Wishing You Cupcakes for Life!” She’ll send this message in a card addressed with the most beautiful handwritten script, in an envelope with a hand-sketched cake, candles, streamers, balloons, or whatever’s striking her artistic fancy that day. This year she did the same, except she wrote and drew from the bed to which she’s been nearly confined for the past several months.

When I think of Aunt Kay, I don’t think of illness. I think of watercolors and Cape Cod. I think of the backyard pool and the season long cascade of blooms. I think of an hour she spent at my counter one June day hulling the fresh, sweet strawberries that she’d picked up on her ride here from Baltimore. I think of the way she talks to the animals, in that silky alto voice of hers, and how they look at her in rapt attention. I think of her miniature schnauzers, Baby Bear and, before her, Smokey Bear, for whom Kay boiled chicken and rice like she was serving a beloved shut-in. I think of the old VW van with the “air-cooled” engine (that always overheated) and the old blue Malibu with the white convertible top (and the red interior) that she actually let ME drive once—and, believe me, that’s really not nothing.

Aunt Kay’s had an uphill battle with her health this year—that kind of uphill battle that makes you want to stop the world and wave the white flag because you can’t imagine how you can carry on from day to day. She’s sounding better all the time, although she probably doesn’t sound that way to herself. My hope is that she’ll keep on keeping on, because, maybe I’m selfish, but I’m just not ready to let the good times go.

If only cupcakes were the cure, we’d all be a lot healthier.

Thanks to birthday girl Monica M. for this much needed writing prompt!



  1. Andie said,

    July 10, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Awesome post, I’m sure Aunt Kay will be happy to read it!

    From the sublime to the ridiculous, what was the take on the “bake sale for life?” That’s what I thought your post would be about. Did Jake have to pony up for the corner brownie?

    That could be a writing prompt…neighborhoods. Yours rocks!

  2. scheirmad said,

    July 10, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Yes, but the brownie only cost him 16 cents–a deep end of the day discount!

    And, wow, new neighborhood motto: “Pennsylvania Avenue–it rocks.” That’s an improvement on “Pennsylvania Avenue: your road to the cemetaries.”

  3. Monica said,

    July 10, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I truly enjoyed reading your memories of Aunt Kay! I’m so glad you shared the post and of course inspiring you was nice too. 🙂 When I told you earlier on facebook that your Aunt Kay and I could be the best of friends with her famous birthday greeting, I think so even more now by her having miniature schauzers (if I had a dog that would be the kind I’d like). 🙂
    A lovely piece of writing there, Cheryl! It really made me teary eyed.

  4. Cheryl said,

    July 10, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    If I know Aunt Kay, she’d consider you a friend just because you said that!

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