"Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to Uncle/Isaac/Dad! Happy birthday to you!" We applauded as my older brother blew out all of his candles with the help of his daughter and mine.
He put his hand to his chest, mocking an older man. "Oy, I'm getting old!"
"You're turning into a real old man," I joked punching his arm.
"Yeah but I'm bringing you with me!" He laughed. I made a face. My birthday wasn't for another four months, if he was bringing anyone WITH him it was Zac. My younger brother's birthday passed in October, he had turned 25.
"Will you boys quit it with the 'old' business," my mother pleaded grabbing a knife off the table. I could see the sadness in her eyes before she bent over the cake. Isaac and I looked at each other and we could both sense that her mood had changed rapidly. I guess I could understand why, her oldest son was thirty. I remembered ten years ago when he had turned twenty. Our band was on tour promoting our second studio album, we happened to be in Brazil for Isaac's birthday and it also happened to be the last tour date. I myself was feeling pretty under the weather but I stuffed my pain inside so I could celebrate with my family.. and our fans as it turned out.
Zac, our back-up musicians, my family, Andy, and Clare had devised a rather intricate plan for Isaac that night and it went into full effect the second he started singing a solo song on stage. Zac and I started dancing behind him at the most pivotal point in the song, causing the audience to crack up. Isaac admitted later on that he thought he must have had something in his teeth or something in his nose because he had no clue why they were laughing. Then Zac and I ran backstage and brought out a cake and Champaign. The second Isaac finished I sprayed him with the bottle and Zac lit the candle on the cake. We lead the whole crowd in singing Happy Birthday to him. Andy brought him out a towel to wipe off the liquor I had doused him with but before she could give it to him, he grabbed her into a huge embrace covering her with the alcohol. That was when they both decided that it was time for Zac and I to get a taste of it too. It was an exciting evening overall.
After the show was not as exciting. We kept the partying up as long as we possibly could but nothing could stop the inevitable; the tour was over. It was both a sad time and a joyous time. We could finally get some real rest but we would miss playing a show almost every night. Also that was the time where my mother got really emotional about how her son was growing up, then she got into how all of us were growing up and it took both me and my father an hour to calm her down. She didn't usually get like that but I think it was because a lot of things were happening at once and on top of all that she was really tired. I'll never forget what she told me that night as I sat on her bed hugging her tightly. She said, "Taylor, I know right now you must think I'm pretty sad and pathetic about crying over your getting older, but just wait until you have children who start to grow up. Until you watch them taking their first breath, their first word, their first step... and then all of a sudden they're on their first date and then they're turning into grown-ups. Then you'll know the meaning of true happiness and true sadness... and true love... all at the same time."
That was what I felt every time I looked at Anya or ZoŽ, true love.
I could see where my mother was coming from, and I could also see that whenever we called each other "old" it upset her. She was cutting the cake quickly, not looking up at anyone in the room. My father put his arm around her while she cut.
"Who wants a flower?" She asked, looking up from the cake. Her face was pale but the tone of her voice was a joyous one, but she had only begun to lose the sadness in her eyes.
"Me! Grandma! Me!" Came shouts from the two older girls.
My mom laughed. "Let me guess... two pink ones right?"
"What do we say?" I quizzed the two cousins.
"Yes please, Grandma!"
"Here you two go," Mom said handing them each a small piece of cake with a perfect pink flower on each.
"Thank you, Grandma," ZoŽ said. Amanda followed.
"Why don't you too sit right here," Mom offered. The girls nodded and pulled out chairs for the both of them.
"What can I get you girls to drink?" I asked them as my mother dished out the rest of the cake to the whole family. "Coffee... tea... juice... Hmm what am I forgetting?" I joked. I knew what they wanted and I was fully prepared to get it for them.
"Daddy!" ZoŽ giggled.
"Chocolate milk, Uncle Taylor!" Amanda said with a giggle.
"Oh, I know that, kiddo," I told her with a smile. "I was just testing you to make sure YOU knew."
I was making my way towards the kitchen to get the girls their milk when my mother called after me, "Taylor can Anya have some cake?"
"Just a little piece," I told her. I looked at Anya who was sitting in her high chair. "Just put it on my plate, I'll give it to her." I thought for a second. "Actually you know what? We'll just share mine. Does anyone else want anything from the kitchen since I'm headed in that direction?" I looked at Clare who was seated across from where I would be sitting.
"Can you bring the baby in her formula?" My wife asked. I nodded.
"I'll take a beer," My youngest brother Mack joked.
"Eh, I don't think so."
"Damn. It was worth a shot." He went back to his cake.
"I'll take chocolate milk too!" My 12 year old sister, Gen, said. "Please, Tay?"
"Sure, kid." Everyone else was set with their coffee so I walked into the kitchen to get the girls their milk. When I returned I took my place next to my baby daughter and handed the girls their milk.
"Thank you, Daddy! I love you," ZoŽ exclaimed picking the glass up off the table where I had placed it.
"Thank you, Uncle Taylor," Amanda echoed.
"Uh, now I feel weird," Gen commented taking a glass from my outstretched hand. "Thanks, uh, Brother Taylor?"
I laughed. "Don't put me in the monastery, it's too late for that." I took the bottle of formula from under my arm, which was the only place I had left to carry it, and put it on Anya's high chair tray.
Clare started laughing and then covered her mouth. "That was corny, Tay, real corny."
I shrugged and took a sip of my coffee.
"Dada!" Anya demanded.
I turned in her direction. "Anya!" I said mimicking her voice. She hit her bottle off the tray. I sighed and retrieved it from the floor. "No," I scolded putting it next to my coffee mug. "Want some of Uncle Isaac's birthday cake?"
Anya opened her mouth wide. I shook my head and laughed. I took a small forkful of the cake on my dish and delivered what Anya wanted into her mouth. While she chewed I took in my own.
"Taylor, ew," Gen commented. I looked up, she was starring at me.
"What?" I asked her looking around me to see if something had fallen in my lap or something. Then I wiped at my face with my hand in case some icing had gotten on my mouth.
"No," she said shaking her head at my self-consciousness. "Isn't it yucky to share with a baby?"
"Hush, ZoŽ Genevieve," my mom said quickly.
I laughed. "Ma, it's all right." Anya opened her mouth again so I gave her some of my cake. "Gen, trust me, when you get to be my age and you have kids, you'll understand what yucky really is."