Sadie dried her eyes once again and looked down at the bowl of vanilla buttercream frosting, freshly whipped peaks forming waves of sugar. “Stop crying” she willed herself, “or you will never get this finished in time”. Resolved now, she dipped the rubber spatula into the frosting bowl, and spread the creamy confection onto a circle slab of homemade devil’s food cake.
Sadie ran the spatula over a cake edge, and a bit of the brown cake came off, mixing with the vanilla frosting. “Mom could’ve done it better” she thought, and her eyes instantly teared up the moment she thought of her. Mom, mother, friend, adversary, comforter, gossip girl, master chef, chief negotiater, mentor - choose a name. They all describe that unforgetable woman. But as Sadie smoothed the frosting on the cake, she remembered her mother doing the exact same task, and sharing wisdom along with dessert. How she walked in the door that autumn day in the eigth grade crying disparagingly because Tommy Pascal broke up with her. She trudged into the house and was greeted by the smells of fresh baked cake and Mom was covering it in her special vanilla buttercream frosting. When she failed her driver’s test, or passed that difficult calculus exam, Mom was always there. How often did Sadie come home to find cake and comfort. Or cake and counsel, when she broke curfew at seventeen and stayed out three hours past. How many times had she sat at the kitchen table, eating cake and listening. She learned about the birds and the bees, the proper way to behave on a date, how to balance a checkbook, and how to dress for a job interview around that table with Mom, a cup of hot tea, and a slice of devil’s food cake. Some days Sadie knew a “talk” was coming even before she walked in the door – the delectable smell introduced itself well before she reached her front porch.
In recent years, the cake came less often and centered around such things as soccer practices, flu shots, and how Uncle Byron was coping with retirement. It was just six months ago that the last cake was shared. It was Mom telling Sadie about the brain tumor.
Sadie finished the cake, tears mixing the remnants of frosting in the bowl. She hastily wiped her eyes and removed her apron. After checking her black dress for signs of white splotches, she tenderly placed a cover over the cake and prepared to leave. She knew that the ladies of the church would be making a glorious meal – treats of all kinds – to send off one of their beloved parishoners, but Sadie didn’t care. This was her tribute, her final farewell, to the woman who had given her so much. After the memorial, she would sit in the hall of the church, and, for the final time, eat homemade devil’s food cake with vanilla buttercream frosting in remembrance of that rare, special woman.