When Granny passed away last year, Mama had asked me what things of hers I wanted.
“Well, the old gal left me her dentures, so I reckon that’s what I will take,” was my reply.
Mama never understood our macabre sense of humor and gave me her annoyed sigh.
“What do you want? Is there anything you want?”
There was, actually.
I had always loved Granny’s dishes – the good ones she only used on holidays or if we had fancy company come over. Those were special and held good memories.
I wanted her Bible she gave me fits about. The pink one with the large print and Jesus’ words in red that my college best friend and myself had drove all over the perimeter of Atlanta (and probably the outskirts of Macon, too) to find, only for her to throw it back at me because it was absent the tabs labeling the books on the side.
“Old woman, at your age, why do you need the tabs when you were there when they were originally written on stone?”
She never used that Bible, instead carrying the same one that was about to fall apart to church with her Sunday after Sunday.
Lastly, I wanted her cake plate.
This was no ordinary cake plate.
It was “the” cake plate. A plate so simple, it invoked images of the Holy Grail in “Indiana Jones.”
You knew when you saw that cake plate there was something special on it, and Granny had baked it.
That plate held hundreds of cakes over the years.
From her homemade coconut layer cake made with fresh coconut shaved between the layers – none of that bagged stuff either.
She would actually crack and peel coconuts, draining the milk, then shredding the coconut through her grinder to cook down with the milk and what one could only guess was a bag of sugar.
None of her cakes lasted long on her beloved cake plate.
When that old gal was in a baking mood, she could out-Paula Deen the queen of butter herself.
“I haven’t seen that plate in years,” Mama murmured. “Did she still have it?”
Oh, yes, she still had it. But it was after a near miss several years ago.
It was a lovely day, perfect for a fall festival.
Granny had been asked to bring a cake for the cake walk, an honor she took seriously.
However, on the eve of the fall festival, Granny realized her coconut cake would not fit another plate – you know, one of her regular plates she didn’t care if wasn’t returned-it would only fit the cake plate.
Granny put a piece of duct tape on the bottom and wrote her name and phone number on the bottom in blue Bic ink, because back then, that’s all we had.
Blue or black Bic pens.
I am sure if she could have engraved her name on it, she would have, but she just had a Bic.
She borrowed a Magic Marker from me to write over it, making sure her name and contact information was visible.
The cake had been placed in a box, in the trunk of her car, protected and swaddled so it would not squish the cake or hurt the sacred plate.
When she walked into the school, you would have thought Granny was carrying the Hope Diamond to be auctioned.
She was promptly greeted by a lady on the PTO, wanting to know what kind of cake Granny had made.
“My coconut,” Granny said, lifting her chin proudly.
She knew no one could make a coconut cake like she could.
The lady purred how she had hoped it was coconut, and tried to take the cake from Granny.
Big mistake – huge.
Granny knew then and there she had an adversary in her midst and she needed to be watched. Granny carried it on to the library annex and sat it on the table.
“I want a funnel cake,” I told Granny.
“You wait a minute,” she told me. “I’m gonna see who gets my cake.”
“I’m gonna make sure I know who gets my plate so I get it back.”
And she did.
Just so happened the same lady who tried to take the cake from Granny was the same one who won her cake in the cake walk.
“It was rigged. She’ll get my cake plate back to me, or else,” Granny scoffed under her breathe as she dragged me off in search of funnel cake.
A week went by, no plate. Then another week.
“Where’s that school directory, I am calling that heifer.”
Granny called. Several times.
She went to calling daily, as soon as she got home from work.
“You know who this is. I was wondering if you had any plans on returning my dadblamed cake plate anytime in this here decade. You have my number, I have left it 20 times on this cussed machine and it is on the bottom of my cake plate!”
Not one to be defeated by an answering machine, Granny called her husband’s office. He was a doctor. She told the receptionist it was an emergency and she needed to talk to him.
When he got on the phone, Granny asked him if his wife ever planned on getting her plate back to her.
The plate finally showed up at the front office for me to carry home.
“‘Bout time,” Granny said.
There may have been a security motorcade to escort the plate home, I don’t remember.
Years later, after doing a charity walk at school, that same doctor had to pick us up to drop us all off at our next destination. As he did his head count, he looked at me and said: “Sudie, dear, did your grandmother ever get her cake plate?”
“She did; if she hadn’t she would still be calling y’all,” I answered.
“That wasn’t even her cake plate,” Mama interjected when I was telling her about the ordeal. “It was mine.”
“Where did you get it?” I asked.
Mama was silent, so I asked again.
“It was your aunt’s,” she said quietly.
“Did she give it to you?” I asked.
“Not exactly,” Mama said. “She brought me something on it, and I washed it and put it up and didn’t..”
“And then when you got divorced, you found it, and kept it because you loved her so much, and wanted something to remember her by?”
“Not exactly. I found it and liked it, so I never told her I had it.”
“So that cake plate had a history of stealing associated with it? First you, then Granny stole it from you, and then that lady was trying to steal it from her.”
Mama said nothing. She was a cake plate thief herself and had no room to judge.
The cake plate, to this day, remains unfound.
All we figure is, Granny either hid it really well or the thing got stolen again.