Bunny Grace was in a horrendous, head-on collision several years before I was born. After one year in the hospital she was released with little hope of further recovery. She was labeled invalid and sent back home to pick up the pieces of what was left of her life. They didn’t know my gritty, stubborn, shut-up-and-let-me-do-it grandmother.
The strongest thing that passed her lips was ice cold buttermilk; yet, she lurched around holding on to furniture to keep from falling, though she often did just that…and usually laughed so much it was almost impossible to find a place to grab hold to get her upright again.
Sometimes it was hard to understand her gravelly voice, a result of hitting her throat on the steering wheel. Also, she was blind in one eye. I say all that to tell you this: in spite of the handicaps and challenges, the woman could COOK!
This true story is not about her, per se. Well, I guess it is a little. Mostly, it’s about my step-mother and me representing her famous pound cake in a baking contest that was broadcast live on our local television station.
My very funny paternal grandmother never even pretended to be humble about how well she could turn out delectable morsels while leaning against the counter, or a chair, or the stove. Because of her complete confidence that she was the best cake-baker in the county, she expected we would bring home some kind of engraved homage to her; perhaps a trophy shaped like a spatula.
Marella (Dad’s loving wife) and I (his why-me 22 year-old daughter) set off with the golden pound cake safely packed in a sturdy box. There were about two dozen other ladies in the sweet competition.
A man wearing earphones and carrying a clipboard instructed us to line up behind the long table. We blinked when a high powered beam of light hit us in the face. Clipboard guy counted backwards from five with his right hand. Right on cue the noonday talk show lady began her effervescent chatter about all the wonderfully yummy entries. You’d have thought we’d discovered electricity or the cure for sinusitis.
About half way through the segment, the same man yelled, “All clear.” We could walk around but we had to be back and lined up in five minutes.
Marella wandered over to the kitchen set, curious to see if it was real. It was. There was even running water in the sink. She opened a cabinet, found a paper cup, and filled it up.
“One minute, ladies,” clipboard guy bellowed.
That’s when the unthinkable happened. Marella stumbled over a huge cable cord on the floor and her water went flying…right onto someone’s cake! Our eyes locked in horror. There was nothing else to do but return to the line-up…so to speak.
The backwards counting was about to begin. Never in a million years could we have predicted what ridiculous events would sweep in and out like an unexpected tornado.
“And the winner is…”
We held our breaths hoping it wasn’t…but it was.
The first prize champ seemed stunned as a microphone was stuck in her face. The TV woman asked, “And what is this on top--some kind of sauce?”
Marella and I began to laugh so hard we could barely breathe. There was a curtain behind us. I figured it had to have a split somewhere that we could slip through and get away. It didn’t. The relentless camera eye never wavered as we bit our lips and tried not to snort.
The winner kept saying, “Uh, uh…”
What else could she say?
“All clear,” was our signal to grab our loser-cake and run like chased rabbits. When we burst in the door at home, just sure the contest police had followed us, Dad was grinning. He had seen our hysterical giggle display. As usual, he couldn’t seem to help rolling his eyes.
We slinked into Bunny’s little private kitchen area built onto her room. A pot of delicious smelling chicken and dumplings bubbled on the back of the stove. She turned, holding on to the counter behind her.
Her one good eye said it all as she stared at us for a few seconds, shook her unimpressed head, and mumbled, “Harrumph!”
In the end, she saw the humor in our made-for-TV dilemma and laughed with us…but that day, as we left the room, I’m sure I heard a decided, “Next year, I’ll just go myself.”
*True, but names changed (for all kinds of reasons).
Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)
A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.
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