Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mom's German Chocolate Cake

The cake most of us in the family requested from Mom for our birthdays was a German Chocolate Cake. Mom has made that cake for all her kids, many grand kids, and on family occasions. She has taken it as a carry-on to bring to one of her children living out of state. I think we have even shipped it out of state. My Dad's birthday is this month so it was only fitting that we made him Mom's German Chocolate Cake. You can't use a boxed mix for this and the recipe has a cooked egg frosting. Many of the techniques of making this cake are not things most of us do anymore because there are so many boxed items or mixes that we use instead. However, I like making this cake because I know the tricks to making it having helped Mom with the cake so many times before. Like how the frosting really takes about 45 minutes to make rather than the 12 minutes the recipe says, and if you cook it on medium as the recipe says, you will get scrambled eggs. Or making sure to line the bottom of the pans with waxed paper because this cake really will stick to the pan even if you grease it, and it falls apart easily. All little things that Mom taught me from the many times we made this cake together over the years.
Click to read Mom's note. Photo by Jeff Norris

Every time I make one of Mom's signature recipes, I am proud and sad. It always reminds me of the end of an era, expect that it is not quite the end because Mom is still here. When I went to get the recipe out of my recipe box, it was hard for me. Almost all of the recipes in the box are handwritten by Mom, given to me at my wedding shower 13 years ago. Mom has not been able to write for a long time now and I have not seen the smooth, beautiful curves of her cursive in years. When I read her letter to me on the inside of the box and the instructions for the recipes, I realize that I have not heard her say a full sentence in at least eight months. She has not been able to make any recipes for over a year. It is hard for me to know what she used to be like, and I feel like that is not my mother anymore. Not that she is not longer Mom, but that I barely remember what she used to be like. Which is strange, because she only started her journey with really visible dementia about six years ago. I feel bad that I do not really remember her as she was before.

As I saw my beautiful niece feed Mom small bites of the cake, I thought of how my son and my younger nieces and nephew may not really remember Mom as she was before. In fact, some of them have never tasted Mom's famous cake made by her hands. While they love her and like helping care for her, I still feel sad that they did not also get to experience her as cooking up a storm, knitting, laughing, and helping take care of them when they were sick.

I loved making the cake for Dad because I could make sure a bit of Mom as she was before was still there even while we enjoy having Mom there as she is now. It was kind of a way to bridge the two times in her life together for both Mom and Dad.
Me and Dad with Mom's cake

It is a hard transition, loosing someone in this way and seeing at special times in our lives how one day they may not be there at all. It is all the little things, like a cake, that make you realize how things have changed and how different they will be in the future. It is a weird combination of sadness from what you have lost, but also happiness to still have them in your life, and joy that you can carry on some of the things that are special to them which they can no longer do.


Rev. Katie

No comments:

Post a Comment