On her girls’ trip to Kentucky, Kish and her friends visited the Mary Todd Lincoln House. Technically, it’s the Todd House, where the future First Lad lived before she married our 16th President, but it’s advertised as the Mary Todd Lincoln House by the people who operate it so we’ll go with their designation.
It’s a brick home, originally built in 1806 to serve as an inn. Robert Todd bought the house in 1832, and Mary Todd lived there until 1839, when she moved to Illinois and there met, and married, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln himself visited the house once, in 1847. Kish reports that it’s beautiful inside and worth a visit.
Mary Todd Lincoln was an interesting, star-crossed person. She was First Lady, but endured many tragedies in her life, including personally witnessing her husband’s assassination, losing three sons to premature deaths, seeing her family divided by the Civil War, and ultimately being briefly institutionalized by her only surviving son. She paid a high price indeed for fame.
Today is the vernal equinox, which marks the official arrival of spring. Pay no attention to the cold weather outside, or the snow that is supposed to fall along the east coast, and think instead of the tulips and daffodils to come.
The vernal equinox, technically speaking, is one of two days each year when the sun rises directly in the east and the period of light and the period of dark during the day are nearly identical. This year, for complicated reasons having to do with the fact that it’s a leap year and the adjustment to the calendar made by Pope Gregory XIII more than 500 years ago, the vernal equinox arrives at the earliest time since 1896. After today, the daily periods of sunshine will grow longer until we reach the summer solstice — the longest day of the year — on June 21. Daylight will continue to be longer than darkness until the other equinox, the autumnal equinox, comes in September. It’s less celebrated than the vernal equinox because, like the Stark Clan on Game of Thrones, it tells us that winter is coming.
Today, though, is a day of equilibrium, where the dark and the light and the positive and the negative balance out. It’s a day to follow a middle course. Today is a day to treat all people in an even-handed way, to split a cookie with a friend even-Steven, and to maintain an even strain.
Today is Mom’s birthday, the first one since she left us almost a year ago. She would have been 86 today.
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since Mom’s death, but time has a way of moving on. We’ve all moved on, too, which is how Mom would have wanted it. I think of her when one of her sayings or deliberate word choices suddenly pops into my head, or when I remember an incident from when the five little Webners were growing up. It just demonstrates the many ways in which a mother can touch one of her children and leave a lasting imprint, and the memories are all good ones.
I’d rather think of Mom on her birthday than mark the day she died. Birthdays are days to celebrate. In the Webner household of days gone by, birthday were always celebrated with a light, airy angel food cake baked by Gramma Webner and ice cream. The angel food cake never left the baking pan quite level on top, so when Gramma Webner iced the cake with her trademark frosting she would try to use extra frosting in the tilted down area to make the cake look perfectly level. That meant one or two slices of the cake got more frosting than the rest. As kids, we always hoped we would get one of the pieces with the extra icing. Today, I’m hoping that Mom gets that special slice.