Easy as Pie: Remembering Mom…

As a Mother’s Day tribute, here’s what I said about her at her memorial service in December 2007…

Pecan (pronounced

Pecan (or as Mom would have pronounced it, “peek-in”) pie, Mobile, AL, June 2013. She would have approved…

My own remembrances of my mother that I want to share with you are prompted by something near and dear to both of us:  baked goods.   When I arrived at my parents’ home the day after she died, I found a pan of chocolate cake brownies with chocolate icing on the kitchen counter.  Apparently she’d made it for my sister Candie and her husband Dave for their planned visit today to do some work around the house.

At first it was very strange to see a pan of brownies which had been made by someone who was no longer alive, let alone that that someone was my mother.  A friend whom I told about this later commented that it must have been difficult to eat those brownies.  No, I replied, it wasn’t difficult at all.  I finished off about a quarter of the pan over the next two days.

In fact, it is altogether appropriate that one of mom’s baked creations outlived her, since I can honestly say that she was one of the best bakers I have ever known.   She made the best chocolate cake ever.  The recipe has coffee, which I don’t like at all, and vinegar, which makes no sense to me, and yet the result was always sweetly sublime.  The jars upon jars and tins upon tins of toll house cookies she made for the Christmas holidays were something I always looked forward to.  And her shoo-fly pies were for me the standard of all shoo-fly pies – nice and gooey on the bottom, cakey in the middle, and not too dry on the top, none of those dry crumbs you get in store-bought pies.  And what better excuse could anyone have for eating flour, sugar, and butter in large quantities?

I hope you understand that when I talk about these baked goods, I am really talking about her, and about what I learned from her baking.  If food is love, as my sister Patty likes to say, then Mom shared a tremendous amount of love through her baking.  Her chocolate cake taught me that you could put things together that you didn’t like or couldn’t understand and still somehow make them work out wonderfully in the end – a valuable life lesson.  It wasn’t just the dates she put in her toll house cookies that made them extra special, but the abundant generosity they represented.  And from her shoo-fly pies, I learned the value of setting high standards and sticking to them – plus the value of allowing oneself to indulge every now and then.  Most of all, I learned how to bake from her.  Although I will never make a pie crust as good as hers, thanks to her I will always know that there is more to baking than making the perfect result.   Thank you for baking, mom, and for everything.


3 thoughts on “Easy as Pie: Remembering Mom…

  1. I remember both your parents as kind, loving and welcoming. I remember your pink flamingo in the front yard, the split rail fence that we tied our “horses” bikes to and Patti in the bassinet on the front porch, newborn with a broken arm. I remember your mom’s artistic ability and your dad’s love of the Pink Panther. And I remember sitting for hours with Candie, looking at Teen Magazines and picking our favorites: Ben Casey or Dr. Kildare/ Connie Stevens or Connie Francis. And I remember you, John – typical PIA brother. But still lots of fun. Loving memories – all of them.

    • Thx for the remembrances, Sue! “PIA”? I’m not familiar with this acronym… 😉 Besides, the last pix I saw of myself at that age (ones posted on FB) showed an angelic child who was clearly too absorbed in his cake to be a PIA to anyone. Of course, that pic shows once again the power of baked goods… 😉

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