The season five finale of Cake Boss that aired Monday night was a sad one.
As the episode opens we see Buddy's Mama back from Florida and in the bakery. She jokes with the customers. “I'm Buddy's mom, without me he wouldn't be here,” she says.
But Mama is sick. She's been diagnosed with ALS. Buddy tries to explain to the camera but it's obvious this is very hard for him to talk about. “It's a horrible, horrible disease,” he says. There is no cure.
ALS affects a person's ability to move, to do even the slightest tasks like feed themselves or tie their shoelaces. It's a creeping paralysis that doesn't happen in an instant, but over time. A person diagnosed with it sees their body breaking down little by little. They have to suffer the thought that they can't take care of themselves anymore.
Mama says her right hand started bothering her about a year ago, which she thought was because she had done so much paperwork over the years. Even after carpal tunnel surgery she still felt pain. After a while her doctors found the reason. “That was very devastating to me,” she says.
But she also says she's not going to give up. The family gathers around her, and Buddy promises to find her the best medical care possible. And to also pray. He starts to tell her how she impacted his life and he just breaks down and sobs. They exchange 'I love you's' and embrace.
Buddy meets with his sisters. They need to figure out who is going to take care of Mama. Buddy says he wants to take the lead.
He's also going to make her a nice cake. As he's gathering his ingredients Frankie walks over and says, "that's a lot of sugar." “She's a sweet lady,” Buddy responds.
Mama goes to see her doctor. He gives her some tests. Even squeezing his hand is hard for her. Mama asks the doctor what they should do and he suggests giving her new medicine time to work. He'll check again in two months.
Back at the bakery Buddy works on his cake for Mama. It's buttercream and caramel, and he's going to bring it to the family's Easter dinner at Madeline's house.
Buddy talks about what making this cake means to him. “Everybody's got their release for their problems,” he says. “People go to the gym, some people go for a drink. Some people go to a chiropractor or a shrink. Me, I just put it into my work.”
Later Buddy goes to see her. Buddy talks about how he wants to help his mother, and that he has the means to do so, but that her pride makes her resist.
“I pray every day, you know that,” he says. “So do I,” she says. “I do three sets of rosaries.”
Buddy wants to give his mother a caretaker. But Mama says she doesn't need one yet. Buddy says she should get one know so she can get used to the arrangement before it's too late.
He convinces her to take the help. “I just worry about you, and I want the best for you,” he says. “It's so hard,” she says. “I used to do so much.”
“I was there with her at the doctor,” Buddy says to the camera. “After the doctor says it's ALS she says 'well what do we do,' and the doctor shrugged his shoulders and says 'make her comfortable.' I read between the lines. I get that. I can't make her.”
Very sad. Back at the bakery Buddy finishes the cake for his mother. It's not crazy and over-the-top, it doesn't have hydraulics or explosives. It's a simple yet elegant cake fitting for a woman who can appreciate celebrating Easter with her family.
Mama does like the cake. So does the whole family. Buddy and his mother cut the first slice together. They're hand in hand, mother and son together as the episode ends and the credits roll.