Keith Taylor 2021

A year ago, we didn’t get together for my birthday because of the pandemic. It was different, but no big deal. I told mom we could plan on celebrating my birthday on my original due date, which was mid-June.

I was serious and kidding at the time, but I remember mom leaving me a birthday note with some money in an envelope on my porch on April 10 of last year. She told me, “Happy Birthday” and that it was one was “for the ages.”

She was right in more ways than one.

Like many other birthday letters she wrote during the past few years, I kept this one and stored it away. Mom also cleaned our house from time to time and on June of last year, she left me a little birthday cake on the counter with a birthday card.

Little did I know at the time, it was a fitting, because I was born two months early and born premature. Back then, I wasn’t given much of a chance to live and mom said after I was born, I dropped down to under two pounds and I didn’t come home until nearly two months. She didn’t even get to hold me until I came home and from that point on for the rest of her life, I was and always will be a momma’s boy.

That will never change.

During normal times — think pre-COVID-19 — we celebrated my birthday in Pigeon Forge during spring break if it occurred during the same week. Sometimes my birthday falls around Easter and our Sunday meal would feature barbecue chicken wings and birthday cake.

I reached a milestone last Saturday and celebrated my 50th birthday, the first without mom with us. It was different and I certainly missed her sending me a text, singing “happy birthday” to me on the phone and simply making her firstborn feel special.

We spent most of the day in Pigeon Forge, just as mom would have wanted us to this year. I had my birthday meal — a country ham breakfast — at the Five Oaks Farmhouse, which was spectacular by the way. Mom wasn’t with us on this trip, but we thought of her the entire week and I could feel her nudging us along to make sure we had a good time.

We did our best and mom would have been proud of us carrying on a family tradition.

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Keith Taylor is publisher of the Berea Citizen. Reach him at publisher@bereacitizen.net

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