Let me tell you about one of my favorite childhood memories: I remember as a little girl sitting in our kitchen with my dad while I watched him bake cakes...
This was something he loved to do. He had to be in and out of the hospital with severe asthma most of the time I can remember, but he would always return home and go back to doing as much as he could for me and continuing to work at his job when he could. When he had gotten to where he could no longer work because of his asthma and had to spend most of his time at home, he would take me with him out in our yard, where he loved to plant flowers in the garden and he also liked to cook in our kitchen. I loved to watch my dad cook. He would make special pound cakes that were out of this world.
When my dad could no longer work my mom had to get a job, so his contribution was to do the cooking full-time. I am not sure how it came about for him to start baking but I remember that he would make cakes and I loved to watch him.....not even realizing at the time that it was a learning experience for me. No matter how bad things were for him, my dad was cheerful and optimistic and that helped make me the same way.
I remember those times we would have contests at our church to raise money for certain projects and whichever kid raised the most money would get a small prize. My dad would bake his special cakes and sell them to people and he would put this money towards my contest. That started a trend, because once people got a taste of the special pound cake he made from scratch, he would be asked to make them again and again. I suppose he also baked other kinds of desserts, but I can still smell those special pound cakes like it was yesterday.
Because I was an only child and limited by Spina Bifida, spending time with my daddy in our kitchen, watching and learning, is something I will never forget. Sadly he lost the battle with his illness at age thirty-two and passed on. I was only thirteen years old. We had become very close since he spent so much time at home, and I truly lost my best friend when he died.
He taught me by his example that even though he couldn't do everything he wanted to do, he found something else that he could do and thoroughly enjoyed it, and this lesson has helped me many times in dealing with the limitations of my own disability.
Fast-forward almost twenty years: I am now 32 myself, and I find myself wanting to make pound cakes from time to time just so I can remember those long-ago days.....and think about my dad. It has gotten to be a kind of habit for me to continue his tradition and make pound cakes for holidays, or when somebody in the family asks me for one. I make them according to the special recipe my daddy followed, and I still use the same cake pan and flour sifter which he used, and this helps me to keep his memory alive.
I know that for some people this will have seemed a silly story, but to me it is something that I feel my daddy has passed down to me; those special cakes he made which taught me to do what you can in life and not complain about what your limits may be. It is worth so much more then money or anything material that he could have left me. We were poor in possessions but rich in love, and every time I fix a cake now I think about him and I feel like he is right there with me, making sure I make it just as he would, with love and pride.
Now that I have shared a little something that is important to me... it is time for me to go cut me a piece of cake and think about the good ol' days...