There was no escaping it. Every year on my birthday, it happened. Early in the morning Grandma would wake me up with a terrible rendition of "Happy Birthday". Part joyous shouting, part tuneless singing, part uncontrollable laughing, it was my favorite part of my birthday. In the grand scheme of things, birthdays rate very low on importance - but Grandma never let that deter her.
Last year was the first birthday I didn't get my "Grandma serenade", she was very sick and in the hospital. It was a sad day in the midst of a sad time. Once I grew up, birthdays just never meant very much to me, the only thing that really mattered was that Grandma always remembered and she always sang. When my birthday came last year, there was so much going on, it was just forgotten. It seems stupid to admit, but I cried - I cried because for the first time, my Grandma wasn't there to remind my family about my birthday. I also cried because I realized that the only reason my extended family actually remembered me on my birthday was because Grandma would call them to remind them to wish me a happy day. Even though my family is huge, I'm the only one born in August... For some reason that made it impossible for most of them to remember, unless Grandma called them.
This year I knew I wasn't going to get my wonderfully awful "happy birthday" song, so I prepared for a good cry when that inevitable emotion hit me. I cried. Don't get me wrong, it was a lovely day, quiet and calm, just the type of day I enjoy... I just missed her and her silly singing, and my heart felt quite alone. Ah, but Dear Reader, fear not, this story has a happy ending!
My mom and aunts are back in Hawaii visiting my Grandma's remaining siblings - so they were not around on my birthday. Partway through my day, I got a phone call from my mom, I figured calling to check in and just say a quick "happy birthday" what I heard next made me laugh and weep: a terrible, off-tune shouting, singing, laughing rendition of happy birthday. Great aunts, great uncles, aunties, uncles, cousins, second cousins, nieces...it was awful and beautiful. As I closed my eyes, I could've sworn I heard Grandma's voice.