Sheet Cake Bonds

The first time I saw my husband, Danny, I was opening a checking account at the bank he was working at. I was 18 at the time and had just returned to school following the winter break. I’d returned a day later than my roommates due to a family baptism, and following some financial issues needed to open a bank account locally so my parents wouldn’t have to untangle my bad decisions at home anymore.
The night before I’d come home, my roommates had met Danny -a “new guy” who had moved to town mid-semester. They told me he had a job working at a local bank, and I figured that bank was as good as any.
The next day, I went in and opened an account. Danny never saw me, and I certainly didn’t go into the bank with any expectations of even meeting him. There wasn’t any trumpets sounding, no angels singing -not even a hint of premonition.
I just noticed a good-looking young man that stood out in a sea of working women.

At the time, I wasn’t interested in dating. I was so young, and I’d really put too much emphasis on dating when I should have been thinking about education. As a music major, time was sparse and precious. After a full semester of pinning my worth on the number of dates I didn’t get asked on, I sat down and had a heart-to-heart with myself that ended in my putting down my razor and make-up and picking up my books and flute with renewed fervor.

The first time Danny and I officially met, I was on the phone with someone else -a guy I’d dated who lived out of state -and I was wearing sweats, a baggy t-shirt and my glasses.
I never wore my durn glasses on account of my vanity, but as I’d so lately lost my vanity in a pile of homework, I didn’t mind them so much.
“This is Danny Deets,” my roommates presented him to me as I balanced our land-line cordless phone on my shoulder using my ear.
“Hi,” I said. Did I shake his hand? I can’t remember. All I remember is that I walked away, and I dismissed Danny with one single thought:
A guy like that would never go for a girl like me.

He wore polos, okay?

He later confessed he’d been so interested to meet the one roommate he hadn’t initially met, and his take away thoughts still make us laugh to this day.
“When you came over, I thought ‘she’s a hermit,’ and as you walked off I thought, ‘she’s a hot hermit.'”

And that, right there, brings us to our great-grandmothers, Georganna and Dorothy. Thick as thieves!
Here’s Dorothy Hancock -Danny’s great-grandmother through his mother’s mother.
And here’s The Lovely Georganna, my great-grandmother through my mother’s mother, though I only really knew her as “Namina.”

We later found out that the two of them were very close friends, always trying to marry their grandchildren off to each other.

I think about my sweats that day, my careless hygiene, my thick glasses… and how one of our great-grandmothers MUST have pulled some sort of heavenly veil in front of Danny’s eyes as I walked away. Though we didn’t begin immediately dating, we were married nine months later.
After our grandmothers let us know about the relationship between our great-grandmothers, we had a good laugh. For years, we’ve wanted to somehow thank our great-grandmothers for their schemes beyond their graves.

Though I wasn’t able to get to know my great-grandmother very well before she passed away, I have come to know that she is the most-loved person in all of creation. Stories of her wit and humor, her love and talents, are often and frequently told. When her grandkids talk about her, their eyes light up and sparkle.

The last time I saw her, she was at her daughter’s home (which used to be her own) in Holbrook, AZ. She had Alzheimer’s. She wasn’t herself. The house is now owned by my aunt, and yesterday a lot of my mother’s side gathered in it to welcome home a sister missionary. I sat next to my Granny (mom’s mom) and asked her questions about her past, her parents.
In the open kitchen, there was a long line for food -and among the desserts was a family staple: Texas Sheet Cake.

I love Texas Sheet Cake. We served it at our wedding in September 2004, a few months after I spotted Danny behind a bank counter.
Now that I’m following a gluten-free diet, I couldn’t have any sheet cake. I felt a sort of longing, a homesickness of sorts. I think of my great-grandmother when I eat sheet cake, and there I was in her old house, unable to eat any.  I resolved right then and there to not let the sun go down upon the day without filling my belly with some gluten free sheet cake!

When I got home, I cracked open the family cookbook Granny gave me as a wedding gift, knowing there would be a Texas sheet cake recipe I could modify to my gluten free fancies. My kitchen is one of my favorite places to be -my home within my home, if that’s even a thing.  There’s a beautiful west-facing window over my sink, and there’s nothing sweeter than the golden setting sun streaming through that window while butter is melting on my stove.  My feet bare, my clothes splashed in cocoa powder, a thin stream of milk on my counter… I thought of Namina.  She has a way of sticking with us always, and I’ve felt her in moments of deep sorrow and concern.  It’s only fitting to feel her in moments of deep, relentless contentment as well -on Sabbath evenings steeped in butter and chocolate.

Of course the sunset was remarkable.




With such a beautiful heritage of women behind me, I feel the responsibility of passing it on.

What better place to start than in the kitchen with a wire whisk?  It’s where memories are made, where cake is baked, and where bonds are solidified.

And though it took some heavenly help to get Danny and I together, a freshly-baked sheet cake does MUCH to keep us that way.



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