Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting Married? Better call Bernice.

Once again, it's time for a trip down memory lane. Time to stumble over the cracked sidewalk of my brain to pay a visit to one of the primary influences in my life. We've already had a colorful conversation with Grampa Pete. And eaten a green tomato pie with Grandma Peg. Now it's Saturday afternoon and Grandma Bernice is waiting. And that's pronounced Bernice, as in rhyming with furnace. Not burr-neice.

I mentioned before that I grew up in a small town two blocks away from both sets of grandparents. I suggest, if possible, everyone should do this.

Grandma Bernice lived across the street from my high school. So her house was often a required stop on my way home. Remember how Grandma Peg could bake pies? Well, Grandma Bernice baked wedding cakes. If you went to a wedding in our church, you probably ate Grandma's cake three times out of four.

When my sister and I were younger, we would have fun looking through Grandma Bernice's old wedding cake books from the 60's and 70's. A lot of yellow and orange frosting was used back then. Sometimes Grandma would let my sister and I practice our frosting technique on a piece of wax paper. I could never make a recognizable rose out of frosting, but I sure enjoyed disposing of the attempts.

Grandma Bernice died in 2001. But Lady Di and I will always remember our favorite wedding cake from her. It was a three tiered white cake with a lemon poppy seed cake topper. And, yes, we did freeze it and eat it a year later. Well, actually it was a year and a couple of months because we forgot about it. It aged very well in that year. Now Lady Di has all of Grandma Bernice's old cake decorating tools and she has put them to good use on the kids' birthday cakes.

The first cake is N1S's volcano (or planet Mustafar if you are a Star Wars geek). The next cake was SP's Barbie cake for her last birthday.
Since Grandma couldn't make me a wedding cake every day, she usually popped popcorn for me when I would stop in on my walk home from school. We would sit in her living room, eat popcorn and play Kings in the Corner or watch television. I would have to watch grandma-type shows, but I honestly didn't mind it much. Now I can watch bowling, Lawrence Welk and Match Game reruns and actually enjoy them.

Grandma Bernice was very active. She was on a bowling team and had the trophies to prove it. She also went dancing with Grampa two to three times per week. When I was in college they would often surprise me with a care package of some sort on their way to their dance. I can honestly say that I was the only guy in the frat house that ever got visits from their grandparents. And I didn't get teased about it once. I think my roommates liked my care packages too.

Grandma Bernice was a hard worker. She grew up on a farm, farmed with Grandpa until 'retiring' and moved into town. She was a typical Lutheran church basement lady. She was superintendent of the Sunday School for multiple years. She held just about every church office there was, and when others her age started to 'slow down', she took the job of cleaning the church every week just for something to keep active.

I have a lot to thank Grandma Bernice for. I appreciated her while she was alive and miss her now that she is gone. She was mostly business but also had a funny side.

She would always tell the same joke while reading an auction notice from the newspaper. The ad would list the items up for auction and then state that 'lunch would be served on the grounds'. And she would ask us every time, "Why would they serve food on the ground?"

If it was one of her wedding cakes, I would have no problem brushing off a little dirt.


creative-type dad said...

Impressive cakes!

DJ Kirkby said...

Awww this made me feel a bit teary. Not the sight of Lady Di's cakes I hasten to add, they are marevellous! Just the bit about you being happy to brush a bit of dirt of cake if it meant it came from your Gan.

The Father of Five said...

I lost my last grandparent in 2005.

She too lived only a few blocks from my high school... But, I attended a private high school in a different city, and bussed, or later drove to and from school. By the time I was 16, I worked near full time hours after school (about 32 hrs a week) - and so I did not visit my grandma as much as I now wished I would have.

Wonderful memories.. and a fitting dedication.

(And, for the record... When I saw General Grievous on Lady Di's cake, I knew EXACTLY what she had made! Nice Job Lady Di!)

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.