I pulled out my late Mom’s famous fruit cake recipe the other day and produced a couple of cakes.
It's not the first time I’ve made it but what made this time different was it’s the first Christmas I’m doing it since her death (I made around a dozen cakes for her funeral service last year, but this is the first Christmas since her death that I’m baking them).
Needless to say, it was a special time as I reflected on the many smiles Mom brought to so many people over the years as she gifted them with this home-baked specialty of hers, always infused with her very special ingredient - love! Those cakes were so much more than just a mix of fragrant fruit and rich aromatic spices - they represented a woman who loved, lived and delighted in bringing joy to others. So, baking the cakes this year was for me a time of reflection.
However, adding to the significance of my baking this year, is this- remember I said I baked around 12 cakes for Mum’s funeral in July 2019? Well, standing alongside me, ready to cut the cakes into the desired portions, was my dear sister, Charlene. There were some laughs, some deliberation on portion sizes. There we were, my Big Sister (my Shasha, my Charl) together with Dad and my other siblings measuring, cutting and packing ‘Mamma’s Famous Fruitcake’, made in memory of our dear Mom.
What I did not realise as I baked the cakes that day, was that the next time I’d bake them, my Big Sister (my Shasha, my Charl) would no longer be around. We’d been separated by distance for many years since our migrating to Australia. However, who would have thought the next time I’d be baking fruit cake, the separation would be that brought about by death. Charl went home to be with the Lord in May 2020.
So, baking fruit cakes this year was different, evoking mixed emotions- those of pleasant reminiscing of days gone by intermingled with a choking sense that never again will it be exactly the same as my Mamma’s.
Sure, it’s as rich and dark as hers was;
it’s as moist as hers was;
it’s as tasty as hers was,
but her secret ingredient, viz. a Mother’s love can never be replaced in this recipe; then of course the knowledge that never again will I stand side by side with my Shasha, debating about whether to cut the cake lengthwise of crossways.
This year's baking
So, in memory of the first two ladies to have loved me in this life, and in anticipation of the day when we set the fruit cakes aside for Heaven’s manna, I bake these cakes:
Mamma, this one’s for you!
Shasha, this one’s for you!
For auld lang syne!