Why Would I Eat Fruit Cake?

It wasn’t even Christmas when Daddy finally made the fruit cake. Every time I’d go back home to visit, Mama and I would listen to Daddy discuss his plan to make it, the vast amounts of ingredients required, and how delicious he knew it would be.

“You like fruit cake don’t you? he asked when he finished telling me the amounts of nuts and dried fruit he would have to add to what I considered a hideous waste of good sugar.

“No.” I answered, making the same face I would make if asked whether I liked road kill.

“If I make it you ought to try it.” Daddy insisted.

“Why would I eat fruit cake?” I asked. “It’s full of unnatural blobs of neon green and red rubber things.”

“You ought to try it though.” he repeated. I pretended to vomit and he laughed as he got up to go outside.

When he left, Mama grinned and said, “You would not believe the production this fruit cake has turned into. If he’s told me once, he’s told me a thousand times how he’s going to make it!”

Weeks passed and each time I visited or talked to my parents on the phone, the fruit cake became the topic of conversation. I’d actually forgotten about it though when I called one night. Mama answered the phone and I asked my usual “What are y’all doing?” She normally responded by telling me Wheel of Fortune was on or my aunt and uncle were visiting. That night though, she whispered into the phone.

“He finally made that dog-gone fruit cake today.” she said.

“Is he going to send out announcements?” I asked.

“I declare I wouldn’t be surprised.” Mama said laughing.

On my next visit home Daddy met me at the back door with a fruit cake tin in his hand.

“Want a slice?” he asked as he wrestled the lid from the tin. “It’s pretty ain’t it?”

“Beautiful. If you like to eat rubber fruit.” I said laughing.

“Want a slice?” he asked again as he shoved the tin under my nose, insisting I smell the cake.

“Why would I eat fruit cake?” I asked with a sigh.

“You ought to try it though.” he said seriously. “I made it.”

I listened as he describe precisely how he had made his beautiful creation, the work he put into it, how delicious it was, and how he didn’t understand why anybody would not eat fruit cake. He bet he could eat the whole thing in a week.

He didn’t.

Unfortunately, fruit cakes last for several eternities so it was there every time I went back home to visit. Daddy would go to the spare bedroom where he kept the tin and unwrap the cake for me to see how much he’d eaten and to tell me over again the entire process involved in making one.

All while I fought back nausea.

“You want a slice?” he asked.

Why would I eat fruit cake?” I responded, hoping I’d finally conveyed my complete disgust.

Daddy grinned knowing he’d turned my stomach. “I made it though, so you really ought to try it.” he said again.

This pattern repeated with each trip back home. Daddy would disappear down the hall to the spare bedroom only to return with his fruit cake to show me the progress made on eating it and to ask again if I wanted a slice. On one occasion he was lying in his recliner and simply looked over at me to ask, “Want a slice of fruit cake?”

“Sure.” I said.

He didn’t hear me at first but as it registered with him what I had said, his head whirled back towards me. “You say you do?” he asked.

I laughed. “No. Why would I eat fruit cake?” I actually detected a tiny sign of disappointment on his face.

“Anyway,” I continued, “I thought people only ate fruit cake at Christmas.” I wondered if I should give in and taste the awful thing, if I could force myself not to recoil at the sight.

“You can eat a cake any time you want, you know.” he said grinning. “But yeah, most people eat them around Christmas.”

“Ok then.” I said. “I’ll eat a piece on Christmas day just to say I tasted it, but don’t worry about saving me any if it seems to start going fast.” I added sarcastically.

“I reckon there will be some left.” Daddy said grinning. “I made it, so you ought to try it.”

We never discussed that fruit cake again. In March of this year Mama had to have knee surgery and she suffered complication after unbelievable complication. Daddy threw himself into taking care of her, the house, and yard. All of these months later, Mama is still unable to walk. Later in the summer of this year, Daddy’s own health issues began to worsen.

He passed away in August.

It has affected the family in ways I’m not sure we know how to articulate and process. In spite of horrible complications from her knee surgery, Mama continues to slowly improve. Losing the man she was married to for sixty years hit her hard but she is tough and will persevere, even with the holidays and all of the memories they will certainly stir up.

I remembered the fruit cake today. I think the rest of it is still in the tin back in the spare bedroom wrapped up just as Daddy would have left it. I told myself I would find it and try a slice on Christmas day.

“Why would I eat fruit cake?” I asked myself out loud as I thought about that silly cake that Daddy was so proud of.

Because I told Daddy I would. He made it and I really ought to try it.

Stuart M. Perkins

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65 Comments

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65 responses to “Why Would I Eat Fruit Cake?

  1. I’m sorry for the loss of your Father but glad to know your Mom is improving. Fruitcake has never been a favorite of mine either 🙂

  2. Thank you for posting. My heart and prayers are with you and your family. Clearly, you carry with you a rich legacy of great strength and love. Blessings and grace to thee and thine!

  3. Wonderful, heart-felt post, Stuart. Condolences for your loss. Have you read Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory? It’s a lovely story that includes the gathering of ingredients for fruitcake.

  4. We, too, are in the first Christmas season without my dad. I know your Christmas day fruitcake will be special.

  5. Beautiful story – smiling through my tears. So sorry for loss.

  6. I am sorry to read of the loss of your dad. Enjoy that piece of fruitcake and know that it was made with a loving touch. For what it’s worth, I have an ancient Plum Pudding in the pantry that I just can’t bring myself to toss.
    Merry Christmas, Stuart.

  7. Let us know how the fruitcake is. Your dad must have been quite a person. I am glad your mom is improving.

  8. Zack

    That was a great story. Not many can make me both laugh and cry. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Best Christmas story I’ve read this year. Your Daddy would be proud. Enjoy the fruit cake. Thankfully the copious amounts of booze in it tend to preserve it for extremely long periods of time.

  10. This is a wonderful story. I hope you will tell us what that sweet memory tasted like on CHRISTmas Day. I am so sorry for your loss!

  11. I am one of the very few who likes fruitcake. So did my father. If I get a slice (somewhere) I will think of my dad who loved it and you and your dad. Lovely tribute, now go have a slice in his honor.

  12. Beautifully told story. I’ll think of it every time I eat Christmas fruit cake. I hope you enjoy your slice. It’s hard Christmas time without loved ones that are normally there. Eating your slice will be a lovely tribute to him as was this story.

  13. pi314chron

    As always, Stu, you capture perfectly the essence of what it is to be a part of a loving family even in the face of aging, disease, and death. My father and yours would have loved one another; both were men with a twinkle in their eyes and a sparkle in their soul.

    But my father still wouldn’t have eaten any of his fruit cake!

    (May your Christmas season be rich with the blessings of peace, love, and joy.– Ron)

    • pi314chron

      Stu, lawd, lawd, how we’uns been missin’ yore stories. Yew all rite? Spin some more yarns when you can…we’uns will be raht cheer!

      Ron

  14. I enjoyed reading this. It is such a poignant tribute to your father.
    I dare you to try some fruitcake in his honor. You really ought to.

  15. Sorry to read about your father. You should have tried a little bit of the fruit cake.

  16. I’m sorry.

    I’ve usually found fruitcake quite nice.

  17. Becky

    I bet it will be the best fruit cake you ever tried.
    I often wonder why my own Dad never wrote down the recipes for the things he cooked (he was a chef, old school), and have regretted many times since we lost him in 2001 that I didn’t pay more attention. We never learn, do we?

  18. Sad story… You’ll never like fruit cake now.

    On Sat, Dec 21, 2013 at 4:11 PM, storyshucker

  19. So sorry for your loss. I lost my father almost 8 years ago, and I have started eating some of his favourite dishes, just because I want to feel like I am enjoying a part of life for him.
    My prayers are with your mother, wishing her a speedy recovery.

  20. Always a fun-time reading your stories Stuart. sorry about dad’s lost…I hope he gets to eat some nice fruit cake in heaven.*wink*

  21. DianeAP

    My goodness. What a touching story. I don’t know how good year old fruit cake will be – but you ought to try it. May God be with your family. We’ll be thinking about you and about Stuart, of course.

  22. So sorry to read of your family’s loss of your father. It is a very moving story, one which maybe makes most of us think of things we could have done. but didn’t, to make loved ones happy while they were alive. I am sure your father will be smiling down on you if you can manage a small nibble on Christmas day!

  23. I am very sure I want to be one of those people who makes fruitcake and bugs everyone to eat it. It’s a labour of love. Excellent and touching story.

  24. So sorry for the loss of your dad Stuart and it’s a pity you didn’t try his fruit cake (we might have gotten another story on cake vs. roadkill). We lost my mum 4 years ago. Our challenge is that we never took the time to learn any of her great recipes and now these have gone with her. Go ahead and try the fruitcake … for your dad. He will know.

  25. I’m sorry about your father. I am also glad your mother is continuing to improve. It’s good to have a goal after losing someone important. I think it would make your father happy.

  26. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. I am with your dad, fruitcake is wonderful, you should try some.

  27. Lovely story. Sorry for your loss. Enjoy the memories of your father as you eat that slice of cake and let us know how it is! Fruitcake scares me a bit! 🙂

  28. Love your story. It is a shame your dad won’t witness actually enjoying that piece of fabulous “Fruit cake” He made with pride. I don’t get the reluctance to eating fruit cake. I’m I one the few who actually likes.
    Sorry for your loss. Whether we see family frequently or not, their loss still affects us.
    It will soon will be 7 years since my mom passed away. Due to the distance we did not see each other often when she was alive. Now I talk to her spirit frequently knowing she is one the Angels watching over me.
    ENJOY your cake and keep the good memories of your dad in your heart always.

  29. A beautiful story. Enjoy that fruit cake in memory of your dad, he sounds like he was a wonderful guy and I’m sure will be smiling when you take that first bite!

  30. This is a heartwarming story. There is nothing wrong with fruit cake, especially when it’s made with as much love and care as your father gave it. Have a slice. Maybe you’ll have some each Christmas from now on.

  31. In a weird way this story passes the message how much your father cared and loved you. I wish you all the best and may your dad rest in peace.

    By the way, I’m a big fan of fruit cakes as opposed to chocolate cakes. 😉

    • A friend of mine told me she is sending me a mini fruit cake in the mail. It is the absolute high point of the Season. I can’t wait. I will think of my dad, now deceased 12 years with every bite. Why should I eat fruitcake. Because I love it. Laurie

  32. Joan

    I am so sorry for your loss and I pray your mother’s help continues to improve. I’m not a fan of fruitcake either, but in this one, you have a treasured memory.

  33. I enjoy your stories so much. When you pop up in my reader, I always sit down so I can properly enjoy the treat. It sounds like your Dad was so precious. I am sorry for your loss. Peace [and piece (of fruit cake)] to you and your mother.

  34. I know that the taste of your Daddy’s fruitcake will be sweet simply because he made it. May you treasure that, and all of your memories of him as you go through your family’s first difficult Christmas without him. God bless, Yvonne

  35. Only now – in my sevemties – have I discovered people who actually don’t like fruit cake. Is it because they have never tried a really good one? Or are American fruit cakes different from British ones? I do hope you enjoy the cake your dad made with such dedication and love. Condolences to you and your mother on your loss.

  36. I’m sorry for the loss of your Dad, Stuart. My father also passed away this year, in early October.

    Although I share your feelings regarding fruitcake, I’m sure your Christmas slice will pleasantly surprise you.

    By the way, between email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc., I am bombarded with links to this and that every day. Most of it I ignore, but I always take the time to read your thoughtful posts. Thank you! And, Merry Christmas!

    Steve

  37. Lynn

    I can see that sly smile on your dad’s face! He was one funny man! Merry Christmas to the cousins and a special prayer is going out to your mom! I’ll be in Richmond over Christmas…give me a call! Love you, stuie!

  38. bantustanvillage

    Beautiful. Sad.

  39. I clicked the “like” icon up top; but I didn’t like this post. I loved it. :))

  40. What a fun rapport you and Daddy had. I’m glad it lives on in your writing.

  41. Sorry for your loss, but there is a lesson here isn’t there? Great story Stuart. Merry Christmas.

  42. TAYLA

    STUART – YOUR WRITING USUALLY MAKES ME LAUGH BUT NOT THIS TIME. THE PASSING OF SOMEONE WE LOVE MAKES CHRISTMAS ALMOST UNBEARABLE. IT’S A BEAUTIFUL STORY AND YOU AND YOUR DAD MUST HAVE HAD A REALLY GREAT TIME TOGETHER. IT IS MY SINCERE HOPE THAT YOUR MOM CONTINUES TO IMPROVE.

  43. I don’t know you, but I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. They are well written, funny, and interesting. This one was even moving. I really enjoyed it and appreciate you taking the time to write it. I’m glad I read it.

  44. Ruth Nulph

    Stu this reminded me of my mother making fruit cakes at Christmas time. We never had any liqueur in the house but when she was gathering ingredients for fruitcake she would send Daddy to the liqueur store for rum for the cake. I think what wasn’t used got poured down the sink. I wasn’t a fan of the cake either but I would eat a piece of it and pick out ‘rubbery’ pieces of fruit that I didn’t want to eat. The nuts were always enjoyable. It did seem to last a very long time (must have been the rum)! I remember the aunts would join in with the making of the fruitcakes. It must be a Perkins tradition!! Merry Christmas to you and your family. Give your mama a kiss for me. I know this will be hard for her this year. I pray she continues to improve.

  45. I have to confess, as a child I liked eating fruit cake. This is when my Cousin Kurt would say, “And you’ve had cancer.” Since Cousin Kurt is not in the room I’m wondering, did you try it?

    I am sorry for your loss. The “first” holidays are the hardest and you won’t stop missing him moving forward. It just won’t be as raw next year.

    Loved the story.

  46. zebity2013

    I love fruit cake but i put on too much weight and have to leave it alone.

  47. I honestly don’t understand the socially acceptable opinion of fruitcake dislike. I’ve enjoyed the treat ever since my own childhood. But, to each his own. 🙂

  48. I totally would have eaten the fruitcake that daddy made. But then, I really like fruitcake. I’m sorry about your dad, that he’s gone. I enjoyed the story very much.

  49. I am so sorry for your loss. This story is so beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. So, how did you like your daddy’s fruit cake?

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