My Loving Daughter

August 21, 2009

Ellen, my loving fourteen year old daughter, warmed my heart with her first attempt to bake a cake from scratch to celebrate my thirty-ninth birthday.

That evening she and her siblings gleefully escorted me into the living room where they insisted I stay. Shortly they reappeared carrying a beautifully decorated birthday cake. There they stood, my five beautiful, smiling, children singing “Happy Birthday.” My heart was filled with pride and happiness. With eyes closed I made a wish and pressed gently on the knife. We have a problem, I thought. Pressing harder on the knife I cut into the cake with difficulty.

Happily the children nibbled on the very small, thin slices of cake I cut for them.
“Eating cake before going to bed isn’t good for you. Drink lots of milk with it” I said.
The following day all the children were hale and hardy except for Carle. He had, later that night, eaten half the cake. On the nurse’s advice we waited three days only to find Carle still suffering stomach pain. We were advised to bring him in to see to see the doctor if he still had pain the following morning.
That evening I heard Ellen cry out in pain. She had tripped, and caught her big toe in the floor grate in the hall.

By the following morning her toe was swollen and painful and Carle still had indigestion. We piled into the car and off we went to the family clinic.
At the registering desk I told the receptionist that we were expected. In explanation I said “My son has had indigestion for four days. The nurse knows the particulars. And my daughter caught her toe in the furnace.”

Ellen, red faced, corrected me;
“I caught my toe in the floor grate.”

“Oh, sorry” I said, as we returned to our seats to await our turn.

My teen-aged daughter Ellen was furious. I had done the unforgivable. I had embarrassed her. I tried apologizing. I tried joking. The harder I tried the angrier she became. Finally I gave up and we sat in strained silence.

Presently the nurse appeared. Looking at Carle she said “You’re the boy who ate his sister’s cake, aren’t you?” Everyone waiting in the large room laughed. Everyone, that is, except Ellen. The storm clouds gathered above her head.
Presently the doctor appeared. Looking at Ellen he asked what had happened. Once again I opened my mouth and put my foot in.
“She caught her toe in the furnace.” I said.
“What were you doing with your toe in the furnace,” he asked.

Crimson faced, head tilted high, looking down her nose, she once again in a haughty voice corrected me. And then horrors oh horrors!!! The doctor looked up at Carle.
“Are you the guy who ate your sister’s cake?”
A roar of laughter echoed through the room.

It was all over. My dear daughter would not even look at me. In silence we drove home. In silence we lived together in the same home for a long, long time.
Only recently some twenty odd years later she spoke of that ill fated day. I held my breath.
“It’s all right” she said. “Now I think it’s funny.”

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