Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An unexpected gift from Bernie December 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:15 AM
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I’VE NEVER MET Bernie, never even spoken to her. She lives in Billings, Montana, with her husband Roy and their cats.

She’s the modern-day version of a pen pal who has become a friend.

It all started when Bernie discovered my Minnesota Prairie Roots blog and began commenting on my posts. Naturally, I had to check out her One Mixed Bag blog.

There I found a former Minnesotan who writes with honesty and humor in a voice that keeps drawing me back. This woman is laugh-out-loud funny. She makes me smile. She makes me giggle. She makes me think. And sometimes she even makes me cry. More on that later.

At some point, and again I don’t recall specifics, our friendship extended beyond blog comments to the occasional e-mail.

After reading an especially touching post penned by Bernie, I suggested she submit it to Minnesota Moments magazine.  This woman can write. The story will publish in our winter issue.

Then, when I created a “Snapshots of Love” contest, with results publishing in Minnesota Moments’ winter edition, I thought of Bernie and the handcrafted vintage style greeting cards she creates and sells through her online shop Budugalee. Even the name makes me laugh. I asked Bernie if she would contribute perhaps a half dozen greeting cards to our prize package.

Well, this artist wanted to give more—a card a month, plus. Bernie’s that kind of person. The type who’s giving and caring and kind and generous all rolled into one.

That brings us to this week and to the unexpected package that arrived Thursday morning from Bernie. I figured she was sending me some of her handcrafted cards. She did. One. It’s a beauty.

The card Bernie handcrafted for me, celebrating my mother's gift of birthday cakes. That's me in the photo, on my second birthday.

She remembered how, several times in blog posts, I wrote about the birthday cakes my mom created for me and my siblings when we were growing up. My parents didn’t have money for gifts; the cake was the gift, I wrote.

Those stories of birthdays without presents and the loving gift of a cake touched something in Bernie. She made it her mission to find a copy of the 1959 General Foods Corporation’s Baker’s Coconut Animal Cut-up Cake booklet that my siblings and I thumbed through each birthday to choose the cake our mother would create.

Thursday morning I unwrapped the slim package from Bernie, expecting a packet of her cards. Instead, she gifted me with memories of birthdays past in that cake booklet she found on eBay.

The birthday cake booklet from my childhood that Bernie found on eBay.

I couldn’t help myself. I started crying in what my friend would surely term “big, blubbering, snot-bubble kind of sobs.”

Bernie could not have possibly known this, but her gift came at a time when I needed uplifting and something to make me smile. When I told Bernie this in an e-mail, she shared that, despite her husband’s suggestion to mail the cake booklet shortly before Christmas, she insisted, “No, I really need to send it out this week.”

She’s had the booklet for several weeks.

Bernie was right. This was the week I needed to receive her gift. Somehow she knew…

That we should all have a friend like Bernie…

TELL ME. When has a friend touched your life with an unexpected, just-right gift given at precisely the right moment?

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


11 Responses to “An unexpected gift from Bernie”

  1. Bernie Says:

    Awwww, what a sweet post. It just goes to show that I don’t have to listen to my husband all the time! I was so happy it came at just the right time. 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Lol, Bernie. No, you don’t need to listen to Mr. Bernie all the time. Listen to your heart and you’ll always make the right choices.

      Again, thank you from the deepest depths of my heart for your thoughtful card and the cake booklet. You know how much those mean to me. That is your gift, Bernie: To uplift others with your genuine care and concern and humor. Thank you, my friend. I treasure you.

  2. Michele Says:

    That’s Bernie! 🙂 She has a knack for knowing just when to send the right thing. One of the first things she ever mailed to me was some stickers from the Always folks telling me to Have a Happy Period. It had a little note that said “Ya, right! Guessing a man came up with this slogan” It made me laugh hysterically since I did have it and was indeed NOT happy. I hope someday the two of you get together, I think you would have a great time! Bernie is as fun to be around in person as she is on the phone or exchanging letters and emails. I am so glad you got your package when you did, she was soooo happy to find it for you. 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for sharing your Bernie story, Michele. How does she know? It’s a gift, I believe. A gift, indeed.

      I expect the next time Bernie is back home in Duluth, we absolutely will make every effort to get together, even if it’s at the airport in Minneapolis.

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    Oh my goodness! MY mom has that book and made cakes out of it for us!!! I think my background is similar to yours in the fact that my mom made awesome cakes for us!!! Every other year we would have a big party since there were 4 kids—2 a year. The awesomeness of inviting our whole class to the party and having a neat cake was the present itself. I tried to make sure that our boys had great cakes, too, and they remember them! I love this and of course, I love Bernie. She is one of a kind and a gem above all others. She has gifted me several times over!!! Love love love this!!!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      That Bernie! These comments are making me realize even more just how wonderful she is in so many ways.

      As for those cakes, I likewise made animal cakes for my kids on their birthdays. They still remember them, long after they have forgotten the gifts.

      Growing up with five siblings in a household with little money (although I didn’t realize it at the time), we each had ONE birthday party, in fourth grade. I still remember the games and the prizes of adjustable dime store rings.

      My mom may not have given me many material possessions. But she taught me to be kind and loving and giving. And I love her for it.

  4. Kristin Says:

    How wonderful! What a beautiful story in this season of giving and receiving. Bernie sounds like a great friend.

  5. ceciliag Says:

    Doesn’t blogging just bring out the best in people! wonderful.. good for bernie.. c

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I have been incredibly blessed to be the recipient of much goodness via blogging. You, dear C., are among that goodness.

  6. TriGirl Says:

    Bernie is an awesome online friend and I am certain an amazing true life friend too. She always supports me by talking up my site (when appropriate of course) and makes the best cards!

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