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Ah… April!

by Kathleen Mueller

My mother’s birthday in early March always signals the onset of spring for me.

Shopping for a small gift, the blouses and tops would be in pretty pastel colors. I’d pick out a nice flouncy one I’d think she would love, in faint yellow, baby blue, lilac, or pale pink. She probably never wore any of them. That would be payback for me. Karma. Role-reversal as child becomes parent, to parent.

The gift would be wrapped hastily, often in the car, at the last minute, pulled over on the side of the road. The era of gift bags sure made that a lot easier. A pretty, sentimental card was required; mom adored greeting cards. Then we would go out for lunch.

In the early years after my father’s death, when my mom was still driving, we would meet halfway at a family-style restaurant out on the highway, each of us driving thirty minutes to make it all even-Steven.

We loved our birthday lunches. We’d always get the greasiest most fried food of all, followed by a gooey dessert the likes of which would make you want to sleep instead of drive home.

In April, we would repeat the whole affair for my birthday.

Being the baby of the family, the only girl, and born on my father’s birthday, the family would fuss over me well into my twenties, when I certainly did not deserve all the hoopla. It was only when Dad died, when I was 27, that all of that silliness stopped. Except for Mom, ever faithful (my best friend in the whole world, it turned out) she always kept the tradition going, long after it was warranted.

After she stopped driving, I would dutifully spend my birthday with her, to the exclusion of all others, despite having to drive basically all afternoon. It’s okay, those are some of my very fondest memories.

Throughout my childhood, my birthday always landed during April’s school vacation week. So, my birthday was like a holiday. I always had the day off from school, and continued to take the day off as a “personal day” when I began making a living.

Today, I celebrate my day in a somewhat morbid way. I still take the day off from work. Next, I visit my father’s grave and wish him a happy birthday. My mom died a few years back, and now she is buried beside him, so I tip my hat to her as well. I talk to them, but I don’t need to. They already know what’s happening, they watch over me all the time.

Then, I go on a journey. Either far, far away to another country or state, or to Cape Cod for our house’s season opener. The latter choice generally entails a big spring-clean of the place, which is tricky because dead insects and an occasional mouse have almost certainly taken up residence during the winter shut-down.

You can’t sleep in the house until you’ve eradicated all critters, cleaned every corner, aired out, and sterilized. I hire a local Cape-based cleaning crew and they get the job done. The place is spotless, and I can sleep comfortably knowing no brown recluse spiders or gray field mice will be crawling across my limbs in the night.

April days on the Cape are magic. The weather is warm, with its fair share of rain, but the crowds have not yet come. The beaches are beautiful year-round, and there’s plenty of walking to be done. A leisurely bike ride on the Cape Cod Rail Trail is a must, and one of my favorite activities. A “hot guac” rollwich for lunch; fresh fish from the market for dinner.

At night, the house is cold, the neighborhood is deserted and creepy. A slow internet and a reliable land-line phone keep me connected, if I choose to be, but the quiet and a good book is a better choice. Mornings are spent getting coffee and breakfast at a local shop, and walking the dogs.

April 2013 will be my first time ever traveling with three dogs. It should be an interesting journey.

K.S. Mueller

K.S. Mueller writes short stories about dogs, cats and other topics during her spare time from her “real job” as a travel executive.

Mueller lives part-time in North Eastham and the rest of the time in the farm country of central Massachusetts, with her significant other, Gil, their three dogs, Hobie, Charlie Brown and 3-legged Cooper; and three cats: Cali, Tux and Newman.

Mueller has shared her life with dozens of dogs and cats since childhood, and volunteers for several animal-related non-profit organizations, including the Eastham Dog Owners Association, where she is a member of their board of directors.

In 2010, she discovered a box of letters written by her late parents during WWII, and is currently publishing those letters in a three-volume biography of the Mueller family.

Visit her web sites at,, and

More Than Anything in the World book cover