The Birthday Gift
It was my fortieth birthday. My mother, who had taken me out for lunch put a small gift wrapped package on my plate. We were at Café Italiano, our favorite, Mom’s and mine. The table was set beautifully with a linen tablecloth and napkins folded ever so carefully, especially for this time of day. Strangely, the table was set for three, even with just the two of us sitting there.
“Are we expecting another guest, Mom?” I asked.
“No,” she said smiling. “So happy to be able to celebrate your birthday with you, just the two of us.”
I smiled at that too
“Go on, open your present,” Mom said excitedly.
“Don’t you think we should look at the menu first?” I asked. “I’d rather prolong the excitement.”
“Leaving the best for last like when you and your brother were kids?” No, open it honey. I can’t wait to see your face.”
I slowly unwrapped the small package ever so carefully so I could preserve the wrapping paper, a habit I had also acquired in childhood. Then, I opened the small jewelry box.
“Your wedding band from Dad.” I breathed. It was a beautiful platinum ring set in diamonds in a most unusual pattern. I put the ring on my finger. “It’s beautiful Mom,” I said getting up to kiss her. My parents had been divorced and now my father had passed.
I sat back down and distracted myself with the menu. As I did, I couldn’t help but wonder what this gift means. Is Mom throwing away her last vestige of life with Dad? Or what?”
“Order anything you want,” Mom replied, “Let’s really celebrate.”