May 8, 2019

When I was young, I remember my mom as many things. She effortlessly moved between being my teacher and comforter, my playmate and disciplinarian. She helped my young heart heal when I hurt, and redirected me – sometimes gently, other times swiftly – when I needed guidance.

I came to know her as my confidant and biggest supporter – she was quick with encouragement and never bashful about telling me how proud I made her or how much she loved me. As I grew older, I was beyond fortunate that sweet, lively Mollie Wallace became, above all, my friend.

Mollie was a phenomenal mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and I have adored her my entire life. Until I was about 35 years old, my mom always had a job, and I greatly admired her strong work ethic. She worked as a secretary at our church, and then at our high school, where she was the secretary to the principal. At one point, she went to work for Warrior Oil, a small company owned by Mr. E.A. Obering. He was a very wealthy oil man in Oklahoma City – very distinguished and sophisticated, and my mom helped administer his personal and professional responsibilities.

My mom wasn’t formally educated, but she was incredibly smart. Mollie was sharp, self-motivated and resourceful, and she always made the most out of everything. We were barely middle class, yet I can remember when we were growing up that no matter where we went – to school, church or wherever – she always had my brother, sister and I dressed well and such that we felt proud whenever we walked through the door.

Mom also sparked my love for basketball, which is likely why I went on to play all through high school and college. Mollie was the captain of her girls’ high school basketball team in Choteau, Oklahoma. And you know what? When my brother and I were in middle school and high school playing basketball outside, Mom would come out there and play with us. That’s right – she’d play horse with us. And she would sometimes win too! She had a pretty good two-handed set shot!

To top it off, Mom was also a great cook. She was a fantastic baker and made the most amazing pies and cakes. She once even won the state baking contest with her famous Big Ben cake. Her prize was a new gas range and oven, and I remember that they came out to the house and filmed a commercial in our kitchen with my mom. Boy, was I proud of her. There we were in our little modest, three-bedroom house in Oklahoma City, and there was Mom in her apron filming a commercial for television. She was really something else.

Mollie Wallace Big Ben Cake recipeMollie Wallace turned 90 on Sunday, April 7. And as I celebrated my dear mom this year, I knew she would not be with us much longer, as she had end-stage congestive heart failure. Knowing this made it an emotional day, but it also made me reflect on how grateful I was for Mom. She lived to be 90, and she had enjoyed 64 years of marriage with my dad. They shared a truly wonderful marriage and lots of great friends. They had such a good time together. I remember them as a really fun couple, and they
were fun parents.

Last month, a week after her birthday, I lost my dear mom. Mollie was 90 years young, and I am beyond grateful for every minute I shared with her. It is such a strange feeling when you lose a parent who’s been as good as Mom was to us. You know it’s inevitable, and at a certain point, you know it’s for the best. Yet, it was still very difficult.

Here’s the blessing of it though: I got to have my precious mother in my life for nearly 66 years. I called her every single day. And I knew the day she was gone, I would miss those calls very much. I sure do. But I’m grateful that God saw fit to give me her love, joy, and wisdom.

Happy Mother’s Day to every woman who loves and nurtures a child the way my mom did. I will always believe this world was made better because of Mollie Wallace and every mother like her.

In memory of my mom, I’m sharing the recipe for her famous, blue ribbon-winning Big Ben cake. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.