The Pound Cake Queen

by Mike Collins


poundcakeLast month, I opened this column by noting that if I walked into my mother’s nursing home room, she would not know me. A few of days before the November issue of OutreachNC went to press, my mother passed away.

So, Sunday, Nov. 1, I found myself standing behind the podium at my mother’s memorial service thanking many of the folks who cared for Mama during her 3.5-year journey. I thanked those who loved her, and whom she loved, and noted a number of people who made her life easier and more enjoyable in a variety of ways.

In the vein of making a life easier, I asked the congregation to think about how often, in situations such as these, we stand with those who suffer and say, “If there is anything I can do, just ask.” Now, let’s be honest, sometimes we mean it, or believe we do, but all too often, it’s a simple phrase we say as a ritual. We don’t really think people will take us up on the offer, or we hope they at least won’t ask for something we find uncomfortable.

I told the congregation that Mama was the Pound Cake Queen of Lumberton, N.C. Every year, around the holidays, Mama would bake 10-12 pound cakes and give them to people she loved, her neighbors and those people who had done good things for her during the year. She baked and gave pound cakes as an expression of her love.

At that point in my remarks, I issued a challenge. I said, “If you’re one of those folks who say, ‘If there is anything I can do, just let me know,’ here’s what you can do … I want you to bake or buy a pound cake during the holidays and give it to someone you love or someone who has done something good for you during the past year. And when you give it to them you need to understand that you are doing this in honor of Marie Collins and the fact that she made your life better.”

THE CONGREGATION LOVED IT!! People were laughing, clapping and nodding their heads, because many of them (me included) had been on the receiving end of Mama’s pound cake gift.

The part they really loved was when I said, “And, if you can’t, or don’t want to bake a pound cake, or, if you would LOVE to bake a pound cake but you understand that if you do you’ll end up poisoning someone, then go buy a pound cake, take it out of the wrapper, put it on a plate and when you give it to them tell them you baked it and that it’s Marie Collins’ recipe!”

The room erupted in joyous laughter! Mama’s best friend, Maggie, was laughing so hard I thought we’d have to give her oxygen.

Please take this pound cake challenge. If you know a caregiver, give’em a pound cake. If you are a caregiver, think about baking (if you have the time) or buying a pound cake, cut it in half or quarters to spread it out, and give it away to people who have helped you in your journey. I’d appreciate it, and considering my Mama’s sense of humor, she would have loved it!

©2015 Mike Collins

Collins is a caregiver and the producer of the video, Care for the Caregiver, winner of a National Caregiver Friendly Award from Today’s Caregiver magazine. Visit for ways to deal with the craziness of caregiving.