On May 28, 2004 my sweet baby Brett came into our lives. Our little boy was stillborn at 8 1/2 months. He weighed 7 lbs 6 oz and he had a full head of hair. I miss him everyday and I am so grateful for him. Today he would be 7 years old, so we celebrate his birthday while we hold back tears. I love him so much and can't wait to be with him again.
In memory of my little Brett, I wanted to share this story with you. As a cake decorator the one question I get asked the most is: How did you get started baking cakes? So one day I sat down and started writing. I hope you enjoy my story.
Legacy to Lab Rat and Back
My grandma made beautiful cakes! As a child I would sit in awe at her works of art. I loved going to their house, it always smelled like cake and frosting. Growing up it was my job to clean their house. Once a week Grandpa would drive out after school and pick me and my sister up and drive us back to their house. He loved to drive with the windows down and one arm out the window. We would talk all the way back to their house. Grandpa was a great listener. I would spend a few hours cleaning the house with a lot of chatting and tasting mixed in. I loved to watch my grandma work on her cakes. “Don’t bump the table!” she would yell, if anyone even got close to thinking about it. I always believed Grandma had a 6th sense about that table. I can still see her sitting at that blue table doing string work and making roses. As long as we didn’t get too close we could sit down in a chair and watch her work. I would find myself holding my breath as she piped.
Through the pain, I developed a stronger friendship with my mom and my grandma. Remember my grandma from before; she had learned a lot in these years too. She had become gentle and kind. She was now in her 80’s, frail and legally blind. Grandma spent her whole life showing friends and family she loved them by sharing her talent of baking. Now she was alone, Grandpa had passed on and she would spend her days sitting at the same blue table watching, or listening to the television. So every week I would make chocolate chip cookie dough, shape them into balls, put them into a freezer bag, wrap them all up and take them to Grandma. Then she would have cookie dough she could bake for visitors.
I asked her one day if she would teach me how to decorate cakes. She beamed with pride and agreed. We spent months practicing piping and string work, roses and flowers. Although blind and home bound, she sat patiently with me, my cute little 3 year old son playing on the floor at my feet and we practiced. Grandma could see out the sides of her eyes if it was close enough. So I would work, then hand her my rose nail with my awkward rose on top. Grandma put it so close to her eyes I was worried she would get frosting on her cheek. She would smile at me and says "That is a little better, Wendy Woo, let me show you again." I would lead her hand to the center of the nail and she proceeded to make a perfect rose. I smiled and tried again. She taught me how to make butter cream and royal icing. She taught me about baking and cooling cakes, structures and supports. We would sit for hours and chat and work. It was a wonderful time.
I miss her now. Every time I get out the flour and sugar and start to bake, I think of her. I feel so close to her when I am baking and wish I could call and ask her questions. Memories I thought were lost, flood my mind and I am swept back to the smells and tastes of my Grandma’s kitchen. I guess that is why I love to bake, it takes me back to my roots, back to the memories that have made me who I am. That is why I am a cake artist.