On the spur of the moment, I drug out a box cake mix, barely enough oil and a carton of eggs. Within the hour it went from batter to baked and was ready to be flipped onto a cooling rack. And just as it was turned upside down, I saw the name I always see stuck to the back of a pan I purchased at a thrift store nearly two years ago. The sticker was tattered, but the name was clear, Elois Amos of Sandy Ridge, North Carolina.
I wondered why she’d gotten rid of the perfectly usable round pan. I wondered who she was and if she filled her nine inches to the brim with fresh, made from scratch ingredients. I wondered if she was a mother and if her children poured into the kitchen waiting for the cake to cool before it could be lathered in icing.
And maybe it’s the occasional reporter in me or the fact I’m just nosy, but as the cake cooked and my sons and daughter played, I googled her name, Elois Amos of Sandy Ridge. And seconds later her picture appeared on my computer screen. She had kind eyes.
Mrs. Amos was born July 6, 1933, in Rockingham County, to the late Joseph Henry Clark and Annie Clarice Amos Clark. She was an active member of Oak Grove Baptist Church and WMU, taught Sunday school, and worked with the children’s choir and story hour. She loved traveling on bus tours, crossword puzzles, reading, charity work, and spending time with her family.
She and her sister were killed in a car accident in 2009. The roads were icy and she veered to the right when she was struck by a tractor-trailer. She was 75.
And when I walked back into the kitchen, the pan with a story was floating in suds, mingled between dirty dishes. I took it out because it felt more like a treasure than a discarded vessel. It belonged to a Sunday school teacher, a charity worker, a reader.
And she was the mother to six children, four girls and two boys. And I imagined her home was rowdy and that her children sometimes talked back. If I had to guess there were complaints of chores and animals waiting to be fed. There were likely balls being lobbed from one room to the next and teeth hurriedly brushed in the mornings. There were probably fevers and tears and long nights with little sleep.
But in the flurry of motherhood, I know that Elois Amos of Sandy Ridge baked cakes. That’s what we do as mothers. We sit and sift until it is sweet and place it on a table, knowing the ones we have birthed and bandaged will gather around.
And if we’re lucky, we can keep doing it again and again. And then one day pass the tradition, and the pan, on.