Birthday Cake

Let me take you back in time, to a farmhouse in the Midwest with many children, much work, and scant money in the middle of the Great Depression.

The oldest in the family, the big sister, brought her college friend home to stay overnight and carry out special plans for the next day.

Her father is home, working the fields. Her brothers and young sisters are busy with house, garden, and farm chores typical of early September. The only person not home is her step-mother. She has gone to visit relatives sixty miles away.

Big sister and her friend fix supper on the wood burning stove, supervise the clean-up, and talk about the future in the upstairs bedroom before exhaustion claims them.

The next day begins early. Along with fixing breakfast and morning chores involving water and wood big sister mixes a cake and slides it into the oven. Wash dishes, send the students off to school, tidy the house, and ice the cake claim portions of her time.

Finally she and her friend make the time to wash, change into new dresses, and join the oldest boy buttoning his Sunday suit.

The birthday cake for seven year old Erna rests on the table.

Bert arrives driving his car, wearing his best clothes and a smile. “Are you ready?”

“Yes,” Grace, the big sister replies.

Minutes later they drive off to the parsonage for the wedding of Bert and Grace, my parents.


Sixty-six years later Aunt Erna enjoyed another piece of cake – from the final one baked by her big sister, Grace.

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