“What were you thinking for Josias' cake?” my husband inquired.
“Just a sheet cake with a car on top,” I replied, “Why?”
“Just curious. You should give my mom a call.”
“Okay.” I said.
Later, I grabbed the phone and dialed my mother-in-law.
“Hello?” my father-in-law answered.
“Hi, Ted! Is Mary there?”
“Yep. Let me get her for you.”
A shuffle then, “Hello?”
“Hi, Mary!” A smile in my voice, I'm sure.
“Well, hey!” She said with similar enthusiasm.
“You were wondering about Josias' cake?” I began.
“Oh yeah! You know what you are doing?”
“I was just planning to bake a cake in my 9''x13'' casserole pan.”
“Would you like some sheet pans?”
“Do you have some?”
“I'm sure I do. I'll find them and let you know.”
“All right, talk with you later.”
We ended the call.
The next day my tender, gray-haired mother-in-law appeared at my door. The white cardboard box she held swayed slightly as she maneuvered it across the threshold. Two rectangular pans balanced neatly on top.
“Ready to make that cake?” she asked.
“Absolutely!” I replied.
I grabbed the cake mixes and the oil. The pans clanked on the counter top as my mother-in-law unloaded her things. I decided to help and pulled out a carton of strawberries.
“What's this?” I asked.
“Oh, they were on sale.” she said, “I thought we might be able to use them as filling.”
A smile crept up one side of my face. I was just going to use icing! I opened the cupboard and found a bowl. The fruity scent of the strawberries began to waft toward my nose from the pieces I'd already sliced. I looked toward my mother-in-law. Her hands deftly stirred the sprinkle-filled confection as she coaxed it into the pan. It wouldn't be too long before we'd be cleaning up and waiting for cakes to cool.
When it finally came time to frost, we had a masterpiece. Mary had suggested I save out a few of the strawberries to cut in half for a decoration on the top. We made a boarder out of them. We DID end up putting a car on top – three actually – much to my son's delight. The effect was spectacular. Two race cars following a pace car, a strawberry boulder on the side, the row of frosting that edged the top and around the bottom...it looked like it came from a magazine! I thought then about how much I appreciated her. I'm learning to care for my family in the same way she cared for hers. Making cakes is a way she shows her love for them. It is a tradition she created long ago when began creating her kids' cakes. There is so much I want to learn from her. I truly am blessed to have her!
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