Five years later, she was gone and, with our dad leading the way, the rest of the family began putting an over-emphasis on birthdays culminating in 40th celebrations he planned for us that were total surprises and tailor-made to suit each one.
So, now, carrying on, we don’t miss a chance to celebrate Hebe’s birthday – she’d be 88 this year – and we look forward to the lobster feasts.
In better economies, we have dressed up and gone out or ordered lobsters to be delivered direct from Maine, caught fresh the day before and carefully wrapped in seaweed and dry ice. We have hosted lobster dinners for friends – high school friends, college friends, new friends – even, one year, an old boyfriend who was the last non-family member to see Hebe (before he shipped out for Vietnam). We have picked them out from grocery store tanks and were lucky enough to be in Maine during one July birthday where we happily had lobster for every meal.
This year, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Red Lobster with another couple, a new experience altogether.
The point is, it’s not hard to settle on a way to remember a person who deserves to be kept alive – one way or another, flush or thrifty, party or solo.
Focusing on lobsters doesn’t mean we don’t remember our mother’s intelligence, literary and artistic skills, her beauty, life lessons or especially the years of loving care she generously gave us – all things that are celebrated in our minds and hearts on a daily basis. But it’s fun to wrap them up, wearing a bib, dripping butter and drinking a toast: “Happy Birthday, Hebe!”
Susan Soper is the founder and author of ObitKit™, A Guide to Celebrating Your Life. A lifelong journalist, she was formerly the Features Editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she launched a series called "Living with Grief" shortly after her father died. Susan lives in Atlanta with her husband.
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