Fred here… this post is a little bit of a hard one to write. I know that most of my posts are hard to read but this one is a little personal to both Yeni and me¹. So let me start with a cake, and the story behind it. Without further ado, I present to you my Grandmother’s almost 100th birthday cake:
“Almost 100th Birthday Cake?”, you ask. Why yes… almost 100th. But to tell you that, I need to tell you this…
May is an incredibly busy month for bakeries in Gainesville. Between weddings, birthdays, and graduations, May ends up being one of the busiest months of our year. We work hard to make sure that no vacations or special events are scheduled, but sometimes it’s a little difficult to change a date; for example my Grandmother’s birthday.
Last year, Yeni and I were unable to attend my Grandmother’s 99th birthday— and it was a big one. Family from all over the country flew into sunny South Florida² and helped Grandma ring in her 99th in style— with the exception of Yeni and me. Sadly, we lost track of time and even forgot to call Grandma on her birthday.
She called me the next day, as she put it, “just to say hello.” I was so out of it, I hadn’t realized I missed her birthday yet. We talked and she told me how proud she was of what we were doing and it felt like any other conversation with Grandma… a laugh here, a story there… nothing out of the ordinary… until I hung up the phone. I remembered immediately– the second the call had ended– that I had missed Grandma’s birthday.
I called her back, and extremely embarrassed, explained to Grandma that there was no excuse— I forgot that it was her birthday (we were raised to own up to your mistakes and not make excuses). Grandma, in typical Grandma fashion told me very simply that she loved me. She told me this often… she then told me that I was working too much and should take a break.
This year, Yeni and I knew that we wouldn’t be able to attend the 100th celebration and (because my wife is AWESOME) Yeni scheduled a quick jolt to South Florida where we could bring Grandma her almost 100th birthday cake and enjoy a great afternoon with her; and that’s exactly what we did.
The top tier of the cake was Chocoholic and the bottom was Vanilla with Strawberry Morning Brunch. Grandma, although she looked a little thin, had no problems putting away one of each. We enjoyed an afternoon with her in her apartment telling stories, laughing, and just being together. It was an amazing afternoon.
Before we left I cut the cake into slices and gave Grandma very specific instructions: “Each once daily. Repeat as needed.” We headed back to Gainesville and I felt as if last year’s “forgetfulness” had finally been erased.
Grandma kept her end of the bargain, and ate one piece every day… until last week. Very quickly and very suddenly, my Grandmother passed away… two weeks shy of her hundredth birthday.
My Grandmother was a very direct woman– if you gained weight, she’d tell you. It went both ways; if you lost weight, she’d be the first to tell you. She was strong, independent, direct, and never hesitated to say how much she loved us— something she told us often.
Everyone has their favorite cakes. I love some of the extravagant cakes we’ve made… Star Wars… Spider-man… Buffy… some of my favorite genres have been created into cake. If you asked me today which of Yeni’s cakes are my favorite? It’s a simple ivory cake with gold accents and a gold flower, aka my Grandmother’s almost 100th birthday cake.
Thank you for reading and letting us share this with you.
¹Using me is appropriate here. Just ask Grammar Girl.
²Like most Grandmothers, Fred’s called South Florida home.