96 Candlepower — Don’t Try This Without a Fire Extinguisher Handy!

Yesterday was my father’s ninety-sixth birthday. I never had any intention of putting candles on the cake, but my brother brought four boxes of 24 birthday candles which added up to exactly 96, so it seemed a fitting sign. Besides, there didn’t seem to be very many of them when they were sitting side by side so innocuously in the boxes. Luckily (or maybe unluckily) we had fireplace matches, which are about eight inches long, otherwise those candles would never have been lit. Still, it took four people to light the candes before they burnt out.

Once the candles were lit, they became a single flame, so I never did get to see ninety-six tiny candle flames cheerfully paying homage to all those years.

As my brother said, “In retrospect, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.” Next year, we’ll get the candles with numbers, but when my father hits 100, we’ll go for 100-candlepower, but maybe a bigger cake  . . .

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

Who Wants to Live to Be Ninety-Six?

I don’t want to live to be ninety-six, and chances are you don’t either, so who wants to live to be ninety-six? Ninety-five year olds, that’s who!

Today is my father’s ninety-sixth birthday. He’s one of the lucky ones. He is still living in his own house with a daughter (me) helping keep him independent.

We get along well for the most part, but he doesn’t understand my sense of humor. He asked me the other day if it was normal for someone his age to sleep so much. I said, “I don’t know. Most people your age are dead.” In the long drawn-out explanation that followed (I meant only that most people don’t live to such an advanced age), any vestige of humor was lost.

A couple of my brothers will be stopping by for a small party. There will even be cake, but without the candles. Can you imagine the heat generated by 96 candles? Or how long it would take to light them? Besides, blowing them all out would probably kill my father and bring the festivities to an end. And anyway, that whole tradition of having someone blow on a cake before you eat it is unsanitary at best.

In case you’re wondering, 96 years is 35065 days.


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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+