“The tiny details are the most difficult to master” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Molly Penny by © Emily Dozois

“I have a severe lung disease, and as a result I spent a lot of the time in the children’s hospital. During one of my stays, I was lucky enough to get a visit from Molly the Clown. When we started talking, I found out that before attending clown school and bringing joy to sick children, Molly had studied film photography. We quickly bonded over our shared love of the art, and from then on Molly made sure to visit at all my appointments, treatments, and unexpected stays. I know I’m not the only one who has had their most difficult days brightened by this amazingly selfless woman, so I was sure to book Molly’s birthday as soon as the project began. I couldn’t think of someone who deserves recognition more than her. We shot our photos inside and outside the hospital, drawing inspiration from Molly’s fun-loving nature and her love of children. The final photo is a little bit silly and incredibly colourful, which I think is just perfect.” – Emily D

Image © Emily Dozois

An Interview with Molly

Q. What is the best memory you have from a previous birthday?

A. I am a clown at a children’s hospital, and on the kids birthdays I give them a little bird and tell them it’s their ‘bird day’. One year there was a little boy who was about six, and his mom had baked one of my birds into his cake. He ended up getting the piece with the bird!

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. Nothing in particular.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that surprised you most?

A. I love black forest cake because of all the cherries! Growing up with twelve siblings we always had cake and the birthday boy/girl would get the biggest piece.

Q. Is there a food or dish that you insist on eating on your birthday?

A. One of the kids at the hospital found out it was my birthday and told me she had made me home-made chocolate on a stick. I wanted to save it but she insisted that I open it right away and when I did I found out it was broccoli on a stick! She gave me a second one that turned out to be tomatoes. Finally, I got the real chocolate. I was very surprised.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. Getting family together, especially when you are young. Being together.

Q. Do you have any traditions or thing you always do to celebrate a birthday? What is it?

A. Wishing the kids in the hospital a happy ‘bird day’.