You can tell when you meet Monica that she's a happy person. Her smile is infectious and her energy is totally golden. It took me a long time to get to really know Monica, but once my brother married her daughter our relationship grew by leaps and bounds. Some of my earliest memories of Monica are shortly after her arrival in Texas from Canada and watching hours-long marathon session Nigerian movies. Nollywood did a lot to help me recognize that art can entertain and inform without being perfect. And believe me, those films were far from perfect.
If you gave her a compliment or praise of some kind she would blush, laugh her sparkling laugh and sway from side to side almost like the sounds were music to which she could dance.
When we went to Ghana, Monica arranged for Angie and I to be able to stay with her sister who was, no surprise, just like her. Joyous and generous to a fault. It must run in the family. The one thing I never got to ask Monica (she's since moved back to Ghana) was why Santa Claus there is dressed in blue. I thought it was a terrific switch on the classic character, but I still wonder why.
Oh, and cakes. I don't want to insult any of my amazing cake-making friends, but I think Monica had EVERYONE beat on making the very best cakes. I had the privilege over the years of sharing in many many strawberry dream-cakes!