Flowerpot Cakes

One year I saved up all my money to buy a cake for Mama on Mother’s Day. I’d had my eye on these cakes shaped like flower pots since early spring, when they first started making them at The Cake Box bakery.
The Cake Box was where Mama always took me after I got my report card. Every six weeks I told the lady behind the counter that I wanted the same thing – a brownie and a glass of milk. To this day, that’s one of my favorite treats.
In April they started displaying their latest cake creation – the flowerpot cake. Baked in an actual clay flower pot, all it needed was a slather of icing and an artificial flower sticking out of the top. To an eight year old, that cake was pure genius.
I decided right away that that’s what I’d get my mom for Mother’s Day. It was still a few weeks away, so I had plenty of time to save enough money.
The Saturday before Mother’s Day either my dad or my grandmother – I can’t remember who – drove me to the bakery to get the cake. I went in all by myself and told the lady who almost always served my report card brownie that I wanted one of those flowerpot cakes for my mom.
coin changeShe let me look around at all the colors of “pots” available while I emptied the assortment of change out of my pockets. I chose a blue one and while she put the cake in a box, I began laying my money out on the counter.
“You got six more cents?” she asked me.
“Huh-uh,” I gasped, absolutely mortified that my mother’s present was foiled.
It also meant none of us would get cake.
“Just a minute,” the lady behind the counter said, and she disappeared into the back of the bakery, behind the stacks of cookies and cakes and sheets of brownies.
Eternity passed while I stood there in my tennis shoes and cut-off shorts, not knowing enough to be embarrassed about being six cents short of paying for something, with adults impatiently lining up out the door to pick up the baked goods they’d ordered weeks in advance.
The woman came back with a coin purse and pulled out six cents.
“Here,” she said. “I’ll pay the six cents today and the next time you come in, you can pay me back, okay?”
Oh what a relief, I thought, shaking my head in agreement and saying “thank you” as I went out the door.
My mama loved that cake. Even if it wasn’t nearly as good as ones she made.
Placing roses in the vase on her tombstone yesterday was surreal. But I know she loved those, too.

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