Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22302 – 1066
Here’s the haps:
As in my other posts based on these prompts, I am going with the very first thought that pops into my head.
This is actually a description of the most beautiful birthday cake ever and why it was perfect and why, even though the recipe is ubiquitously available, there could never be another one like it.
It was for either my twelfth or thirteenth birthday. We had moved to Shawano, Wisconsin from Milwaukee, Wisconsin when I was, I think, eleven, so it probably was my twelfth birthday. My dad had gotten laid off from his job the year before and the stress and financial difficulty it created for him turned him gray, seemingly overnight. My mom’s dad could help him get a new start if he were closer, so we moved. It was about two hundred miles away which doesn’t sound like a lot but it might as well have been two thousand.
Time frames are difficult to recall with any exactness because we are talking about fifty years ago but I do know my dad’s mom loved me more than any of her other grandchildren. That’s the only way I can explain it, anyway. She would have been around eighty-three years old at the time. She was born in Posen, Germany in 1888 (which in later years became part of Poland) and knew how to bake a real German Chocolate cake from scratch. The only thing I didn’t like about German Chocolate cake was the traditional frosting, which is a pecan-y-coconutty-caramelly concoction, and she knew that about me. If I was going to be around to have some or if it was for me it had chocolate-chocolate frosting!
She worked hard at making one from scratch the night before my birthday, but, horror of horrors, something happened to it and the top layer came out very lopsided. My uncle Bob wanted to leave first thing in the morning but she didn’t want to bring me a lopsided cake. I don’t remember exactly what had happened but it seems that there was more to it than just lopsidedness. It’s been a while, though. Uncle Bob and Aunt Alma took great care of her but if you have ever traveled with an eighty-three year old woman you know you have to leave early. She was frustrated and heartsick but her German sensibilities kicked in and she knew the reality and practicality of leaving on time.
It was a surprise visit when she pulled up and they were all at the door. I was so excited to see them! They came in with a cake-taker and my grandma told me the sad story. “Little Herbie,” she said, “I’m so sorry about your cake.” I looked at it and true, it didn’t look perfect, but what of that? “But Grandma, what does it taste like?” And so the adults cut the cake and passed it around.
“Grandma, your cakes are always the best tasting ever! This is good and now that the last piece is gone nobody will remember what the cake looked like. But I’ll always remember you and how good your cake is!” She had big old tears in her eyes. In that part of the family it didn’t matter how old you were, you kissed aunties and grandmas. I told her I loved her and gave her a great big kiss right on the lips, just like when I was a little boy. If I was her favorite, she was my favorite, too.