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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Bottrall

Mackinac Island Memories


We lost my husbands mother last week. More than just a mother in law, Joyce Wisner was a dear lady who taught me many things in the 30 years I knew her about living a life of generosity and caring. She was an unapologetic advocate for her children and grandchildren, she only saw the best in all of her family. She gave without expecting back. And she rarely turned anyone away. She brought joy wherever she went and heart so full of love, she would tear up at the drop of a hat.


She was never able to make it up to Mackinac Island after Dave and I purchased a home there. There was always one reason or another, but confined to a wheelchair for the last five years of her life the trip must have just seemed overwhelming. When we would leave for a week or two we would always stop to say goodbye. I would often bring a favorite meal or treat for her to eat while we were away. We would leave her with tears and orders to "be careful." When we were on the Island we would call her, just like we did with her mother 20 years before and let her listen to the clip clop of the horses and the blast of the Shepler's ferry horn. We would bring her home fudge from Murdick's Original Fudge and let her experience the island through our memories and stories while she let the chocolate melt on her tongue. Oh, she loved the Island and our stories would incite her memories of time spent there when the boys were little and life was simpler. In some small way, I hope this blog will bring the Island back to life for you and let you relive your favorite memories here too.

Front Row - Tom, Leslie, Donny and Joyce on a Mackinac Island Carriage Tour

In Joyce's honor, I gave you the recipe for her baked beans last week. Here are a couple more of her favorite recipes. She did an awful lot of good in this world and I hope you will think of those things if you make one of her favorites. Here is the link to her obituary if you haven't seen it yet.


Joyce loved Marsala Chicken. She always ordered that or parmesan chicken at every restaurant we went to. When I learned how to make it at home, she actually giggled after her first bite of tender chicken smothered in mushroom sauce. She liked extra mushrooms and as she got older and liked garlic less I changed the recipe to include shallots instead.

But Joyce liked nothing better than sweets. She hardly went anywhere without a box of cookies stashed in her glove box. She loved every flavor of Bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cake and would almost always bring one or two or even five with her everywhere she went. But the favorite cake that I made for just about every family Christmas celebration was an old fashioned Texas Sheet Cake. I got this recipe from my mother and still make it several times a year. The chocolate is so dense and rich people often mistake it for brownies. At Christmas I add a teaspoon of peppermint to the frosting and crush candy canes on the top. The recipe below is for a 13x18 inch baking sheet, also known in the commercial world as a 1/2 sheet cake or 1/2 baking pan. The cake is so good, you will be making it over and over and it's definitely worth the purchase of this pan if you don't already have one.


After almost three weeks of tears, we have loaded up the car and the dogs and are on our way back up to our Healing Place - Mackinac Island. We will miss stopping to say goodbye, Joyce. We will miss calling you on our carriage rides to hear the clip clop of horses feet. We will miss sharing fudge and stories with you afterwards. And yes Mom, we promise to be careful. Memory Eternal.




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