Friday, July 12, 2013

Love and Sunshine to YOU

as a senior at
E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, VA
The month of July always makes me think of the Boss’ mother.

  Her birthday was in July.

                            This very day, in fact. 


Family reunions were always held in July and that meant that at least one member of the extended family came in for a visit.

So, every July…I think of Mom W.,


                        ...and birthday celebrations.

Actually, Mom W’s birthday nearly kept our wedding from ever happening. 

Hoping to show just how much I loved and appreciated this kind woman who so graciously welcoming, who was so happy about my upcoming marriage to her baby, I wanted to do something special. REALLY special. 

She loved fresh coconut cake. So, I decided that is what I would make for her birthday that first year. A fresh, homemade coconut cake.  Yes!  That would be perfect! The fact that I had never made a fresh coconut cake, didn't have the supplies or a clue what I was doing didn't deter me for one moment.

That cake making nearly proved disastrous.  It was at least 95* (probably closer to 100*), the baking paraphernalia was woefully inadequate, the coconut shell incredibly hard and…did I mention…the kitchen had NO air conditioning?   …oh, yes,  and the Boss was going to help me. Oh, dear Heavens!

I am here to tell you that you can learn more about a person while baking a fresh coconut cake under adverse conditions than you ever will in years of counseling.  A fresh coconut cake requires that you obtain a coconut (in the husk) beat it with a hammer and extract the meaty, white flesh.  Then, you must grate the meat of the coconut (ever so gently...leaving the hard skin behind) so that you have lovely shreds to garnish the cake.

While the Boss grumbled under his breath, sweat rolled down his nose, and his eyes turned that odd shade of blue generally only seen when he’s on the verge of going into shock, he stuck with it. I learned that if I asked him to do something…he would…even if it killed him.  He learned that if I say I’m going to do something…I will…even if it kills him.  (hahaha)

We survived, cake baked and relationship still intact.

and....The cake was a great success!  

Barbara and Barbara - 1984
Mom W. was that pillar of maternal strength that I desperately needed at that point in my life.  She filled a void that I had felt for years. She was my counselor, shopping companion, confidante and dear friend. Maybe she remembered being young and uncertain as a bride-to-be (and later as a newlywed and new mom) maybe she was just incredibly cool.

We all made it to the wedding.

She was elated, although it occurred to me many years later how hard it must have been to be so joyful on our shared anniversary date. Not only did we share the same name, by some odd quirk of coincidence, we unwittingly chose her anniversary for our wedding date.

Mom and Dad W - 1949

She had tragically lost Dad W. just prior to their twenty-fifth anniversary in a motorcycle accident that saddens the entire family to this day.

But, she was there for her kids…like always.

She granted me encouragement when I really, really needed it and borrowing a line from Eric Church's song, Those I've Loved "I wouldn't be who I am today..." (without those I've loved along the way).  Without her interest and support, it is possible that I never would have learned to bake bread. (or possibly anything else) I thought of her often as I prepared bread for Market every week for 10 years. 

Her example of resilience in the face of adversity has been my inspiration throughout the years.  I can only hope that she would be proud of what I (we) have become.

The fact that it has been raining and raining and raining around here lately has everyone talking about their desperate need for sunshine.  Some post I read on Facebook the other night got me to thinking about Mom W. once again.

Someone was requesting SUNSHINE be sent to them. Mom W. always sent us some sunshine...

Every single written missive I ever received from my mother-in-law ended the exact same way…

Love and Sunshine to you,
Mom W.

written in her characteristic bold and swirling cursive. (I can’t find a real example…but,that’s pretty close)  We teased her about it a little.  We always knew what every card and letter would say at the end.

…and you know what?  Despite the fact that it’s been a long time since she passed on, I still find myself looking for that handwriting from time to time. (and the wishes for sunshine would be greatly appreciated)

So, with fond memories of Mow W. on what would have been her 84th birthday, 

Mom W and her eldest granddaughter
being uncharacteristically silly -1992

    Here’s a little 
love and sunshine 
      to YOU 

to combat the rain.


  1. A lovely tribute Barbara to a lovely lady. We have a farmer's wife near us - she is now well in her eighties, who was widowed by a road accident and left with eight children to bring up. She reared them all and ran the farm and in the process earned the love and respect of not just her own family but of all the neighbourhood. I still chat to hear when I see her on the lane - she too is a lovely lady.

    1. It sounds like your neighbor is a very special woman. I find great inspiration in other folks life stories.
      Thanks for sharing, Pat!