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Thinking of Angel Food Cake and Batman on my brother’s birthday

It has been years since I sang “Happy Birthday to you,” to my brother’s face, and years since I carried his Angel food birthday cake to him on a TV tray from the kitchen to the living room at five o’clock on Avenue K in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

angel food cake on my brother's birthday

I left home when I was nineteen and now I am fifty-six. All of the years we lived in the same house with three bedrooms and one bath, I never thought it would end. I thought I would never grow up and leave. The days seemed endless and the leaving seemed like it would never happen.

But it did.

I left.

He left.

We both married, had children, and we live 2,572.84 miles away from each other. It would take me 38 hours and 21 minutes of straight through driving to arrive at his doorstep.

The first birthday I missed was in March of 1979. After returning from a trip to Europe  I moved eight hours away from home to take a night class in animation. I never lived at home again.

My mother mailed me the whole meal she had served my brother on his birthday in March of 1979, including a piece of the Angel Food Birthday Cake. The food had spoiled, but the cake was still good. I don’t remember what food it was, but I remember opening the box and eating the cake.

I just went in the basement to look for a photograph of my brother and me. Most of them are from when we still rode tricycles.
I know I have a box of photographs when we were in college, but I stopped looking after I found a photograph of us on the swing-set our father made for us.

Thinking of my brother on his birthday

Today, I will call him, and I will tell him, “Happy Birthday Neal. I love you.”

I am tempted to buy a box of angel food cake today and mail it to him.

Should I bake it first?


I just got back from the store with a box of Angel food cake,  a Lego Batman toy, Batman party favor masks, Batman napkins, Batman paper plates and a store-bought birthday brother card.

My brother liked Batman. I wonder if he still does?

The birthday card will get returned. It is hard to find a card that says exactly what you want to say. They are either too sentimental, or too crass. So I made one for him instead. I am not going to tell you what I wrote. Somethings have to be kept private.

It has also been years since I gave my brother a toy. But, we are never too old to want to build with Lego’s, and it is never too late to mail a gift. It will postmarked on the day of his birthday.

The present will get there after his birthday, but it will arrive in a box full of love.

A present for my brother

What do you do for your siblings birthdays after you left home? As always I love to hear from you. Click here to comment. HERE


p.s. And I am not going to send him this story. So don’t tell him what is in the box. Please.


About Pamela Hodges

I write slice of life stories to help you know you are loved, valuable and worthy just as you are. I am a writer, an artist, and a cleaner of seven litter boxes. I live in Pennsylvania with one husband, four cats, one dog and two birds.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    You would think a personal story would not interest the general audience! And you would be wrong!

    Pam – your ability to immerse your heart and soul into every syllable of every story is commendable! #HUGS

    Love ya

    PS: My sister and I were never close as kids, so I don’t recall getting anything for her. Oops – but I make up for that nonchalance by giving her personalized gifts today!

  • Teresa

    what a great way to celebrate a sibling’s birthday. I try to send a card/e-card, but most years I didn’t send a gift. One year I made my sister( her name is Pam)an afghan in her fav color – green. We had been estranged since the death of our mom in 2012.
    Last year I wanted to show her I still cared about her and loved her. I bought an owl print from Juliette Crane. The owl was my mom’s fav bird, so choosing the owl was my way of saying mom was watching over her. The owl was painted green. My sister called tell me she hung the print in her living room. I want to take Juliette Crane’s classes on painting owls, told my sister, and she said she would like to hang one of my owl paintings on the wall next to the one I bought her

  • Berdeane Bodley

    When I was in the store buying Neal’s b/card, there was a card from the cat, I had never seen a card from a cat, SO, of course I had to buy it for Neal, on the return address I put (in the top left hand corner of the envelope) cat heaven, & my address. He didn’t even notice, so he was totally surprised when he read the card was from his precious cat “Blackie,” I had written meou, meou, meou Nealie, signing it purr, purr, purr “Black Cat.” I like to think he had a tear in his eye. That picture you posted of you & your brother, I had just been looking at the very same picture just the other day!!! Love you!!!

    • Hi Mom,
      What a fun idea to send him a card from Blackie.
      A good name for a black cat.
      How fun we both were looking at the same photograph.
      I love you too Mom,

  • La McCoy

    This is a loving story. Thank you for the sibling ideas.

  • You’re not just a wonderful blogger and artist, you’re a terrific sister too, Pamela!

    • Thank you John,
      But not so terrific. I forgot to call.

  • Sue Sutherlin

    If you haven’t already sealed the box, you COULD include your story. It won’t ruin the surprise if it arrives WITH the surprise. If you’ve already sent it, maybe you could print it (with the many comments, so he knows how your writing impacts so many) and send it as a follow up.

    My siblings are in North Carolina and Arizona, and we haven’t spent birthdays together in decades (exception – we were together for my birthday last year, because we were all gathered for my daughter’s wedding which was 2 days after my b-day).

    I call for birthdays, but I am not good at sending cards (same problem you have encountered – they usually say stuff I cannot send for whatever reason), and I don’t want to send a gift just for the sake of sending a gift. If I knew of something that my sibling would really love to have, I would send it in a heart beat. I LOVE the gift you are sending to your brother! It’s fun and full of love and memories! I am enough older than my brother and sister that I don’t have the same memories to work with.

    • Hello Sue,
      The box is already in the mail. I may send him the link to this story in a few weeks. Making sure the box has arrived first.
      How nice to see your siblings at your daughters wedding. Time with family is so special.
      I don’t send gifts every year, usually just a card, and a phone call.
      This year I forgot to call. Oh dear.
      Hugs to you.

      • Sue Sutherlin

        When he sees his gift, he will know he is loved and certainly not forgotten!

  • Lee Ann Spillane

    Oh. I love this slice! You captured the bittersweet of the goodbyes I said to brother yesterday. Today is my birthday too! Sending happy wishes to your brother from my own birthday heart. My brother and I celebrate when we see each other—time together is such a gift now.

    • Hello Lee Ann,
      Happy Birthday to you! (Chocolate or Vanilla cake?)
      Ah, you had to say good-bye to your brother yesterday. How nice that you got to see each other.
      I think of time with my brother and my mother as a gift now too.
      It is so infrequent.

  • Mariaselke

    This made me smile and cry this morning. I lost my brother 12 years ago on March 3rd. I actually – for the first time – completely forgot to mark the sad anniversary this year.

    It’s sad when siblings are so far away (my sister is a 9 hour drive – which is much more doable than 38!). I hope you’ll post his reaction when he gets the box 🙂

    • Hello Maria,
      I am so sad your brother died. Do you remember his birthday or the sad day more? I remember the day my dad died more than his birthday.
      That is nice your sister is a day’s drive away. Spending time with family is so special.
      I will post his reaction. 🙂

  • LOVED this story. He will smile big when he gets your box. I recently sent my brother food through the mail. I had done it before and it worked. Some things work one time but not the next. The food was spoiled, but the containers of cookies were not spoiled. He was still touched that I had sent him the package. Note: Don’t believe the post office when they say your parcel will arrive at such and such time. They were off by 5 days!

    My brother and I have always been close, but now it is only my brother and I who are left from five of us.

    I hope you put a copy of the picture inside. That picture made me smile because we had the same Swingset. And we were just talking about it the other day. Thanks for sharing that picture, it gave a lot of joy. And pictures never spoil. Instead they take memories and freshen them up.

    Thanks for this wonderful post.

    • Hello Anne,
      I am so happy you enjoyed this story. I loved your story about sending your brother food. That is nice that you are still close to him. And it saddens me to think of your other siblings who are not here for you to hug.

      I did include the picture of the swing set. I added it at the last minute. I hope it likes the box of treasures too.
      And, you are very welcome.
      Love Pamela

  • Amanda Villagómez

    Pamela, What a fun celebration of memories throughout the years all coming together today. I am excited for your brother to receive this. When we live close enough to home, we still have birthday lunches as a family, similar to what we always did. One sister lives far away though. Her birthday is right after Christmas (4 days), so I send her a gift with enough leeway for it to arrive on time but she probably always opens them early!

    • Hello Amanda,
      How nice you still have birthday lunches as a family. We had birthday dinners with my husband’s family when we lived in Minnesota. I miss those.
      I hope you have a nice family lunch for your birthday. With lots of cake!

  • Kathleen

    Tomorrow is my sister’s birthday. Not sure I can pull together the Stevie Nicks and Star Wars themed care package she might like, but I will call her. Thank you for reminding me about the power of siblings and the memories that stay with us. Lovely.

    • Hello Kathleen,
      How fun. Did you call your sister?
      I forgot to call my brother. Egad, wrote a story, mailed a parcel, and forgot to call.
      Happy Birthday to your sister.

  • Anita Ferreri

    I have always called my brother and my sister on their birthdays. When my brother lost his battle against cancer 6 years ago, I started calling his wife on his birthday. I remind my siblings I love the, I care and I remember. Even if I didn’t call, I would hope they would know that. But, as I know for sure, life is short. We are not promised tomorrow. So, I make sure to leave a happy birthday message.

    • Anita,
      I am so sorry your brother died. Six years is a long time. I’ll bet some times if feels like yesterday. That is so thoughtful you call his wife on his birthday.
      Having someone to remember with makes such a difference.
      All my best,

  • Bonnie K

    I have two brothers, one lives close by, the other in Israel. Sometimes we are together on birthdays, but we always get to chat on the day, early in the morning usually. Not the same as when we were kids but it’s okay for us.

    • Hello Bonnie,
      That is so nice you get to talk on the phone with your brothers. I completely forgot to call my brother this year on his birthday, I am embarrassed to say. I spend so much time making the box I forgot to call.
      I hope you have a better memory that I do.