Monday, March 26, 2018

Just Pie

We laid my grandmother to rest on August 13, now just 30 days ago. She was 82. I hope I make it past 65 let alone get to 82. It helps to have good genes. My mom has good genes that she inherited from Grandma. My dad couldn’t make it to the funeral. He had a good excuse. He was and still is doing time in Chatsworth Correctional Center, near Montgomery, for fraud. One of the people he defrauded was my grandmother.

It rained on August 13. We had been through one of the hottest, driest summers in east Tennessee in about ten years until maybe a couple of days before the funeral and then it rained torrentially for a week! Streams overflowed. Crawl spaces flooded. All kinds of calamity and in it all Grandma died. I don’t know for sure if Mother told my dad or not. I am not sure I care.

My Grandma was a good person as I think most grandmothers are. She taught me and my mom how to cook ‘cause my mom had to deal with so many problems from my dad she never got the time to teach me to cook by herself. Dad was always wheeling and dealing until he got caught and me and mom were just window dressing for the most part of his life. Grandma appreciated people. She liked to read and explore. She and granddad did manage to get out of the mountains and even off the east coast every couple of years. They liked to travel partly, I think, because as kids they didn’t get that chance.

My grandparents grew up in the Depression days without too much to their family names. Grandma was third of four kids and she was the last to go beyond. Her father had been a druggist and survived pretty well during the depression compared to lots of families. She said she always had a good life. She got to travel a little bit. It might not seem like much to us nowadays but for her honeymoon they went to Niagara Falls. I haven’t even been to Niagara Falls.

One of the stories my mom used to tell me about Grandma was when Grandma was trying to teach my mom how to make a pie. Mom told me this one day when we were sitting in the parking lot at the hospital. Mom was trying hard to talk to relieve her stress, I think of Grandma being in the hospital, but when she’d talk about Grandma she usually wanted to cry.

She, my Grandmother, called all her pies “Just Pie” but my mom didn’t know how you made just pie.

Apparently Gran was going to make a pie for an upcoming church sale, something she did regularly. this was after Pop passed and her involvement with church was how she kept in touch with friends and I think some kind of grounding in the world. My uncle Billy had moved to California and rarely, of course, visited so it was left to me and mom, Grandma’s neighbors, and the church to keep her sane.

I don’t know if Grandma made specific kind of pie. I like cherry and rhubarb myself and my mom is an awfully good baker although to hear her tell it she didn’t start out that way. She is decent at cookies but unbeatable at pie and I don’t know what or how she does it, either. I can do okay, I guess, but maybe I don’t give myself enough credit. I sort of slip out of the habit of baking for one but love the chance to bake for an office party. I don’t always enjoy the party since everyone tends to ask about my dad but I do like the excuse to cook. The apartment smells so nice and there is this older guy, terribly alone, who lives above me and so I make something extra for him. He’s a good joe and makes sure all of us in the building are okay when the power goes off or something like that.
But, sometime ago, I think when mom was carrying me, she and Grandma were preparing several pies for a church function. I don’t know that I know the ‘why’ for sure. Mom said she wasn’t sure what Grandma was putting in any given pie but apparently, sometimes, different ingredients went in depending upon what Grandma had in the kitchen. They, she, had decided that any pie might be better than some requested pie or a favorite pie. What ever she was making it would be good, for sure, and as always, good to look at, too.

The story goes that they were removing several pies from the oven to the butcher block that served as an island in Grandma’s kitchen. They must have done more than just two although I don’t think I ever heard how many, exactly. They were merrily making pie fixings and my mom wants to do it right and follow directions of course but Grandma just madly slings this and that into the filling. That was just the way she made her pies. If they weren’t 100-percent apple that was okay. Sort of fruit pie approach, I guess. Who asks what is the right flavoring for a fruit pie?

Fruit pie? Apple pie? Cherry pie? Rhubarb pie? Peach pie? Apple-cherry-rhubarb-peach pie? Who knew? So, they were working on about four pies, if I recall rightly, two in the oven and two being prepared. The inevitable happened. The story I got was that as Grandma brought out one pie from the oven mom was turning to put one in the oven and they collided. Not just a quick lane change and a giggle and continue but full-on head-on (pie-on?) collision. The way I heard it mom got her pie back under control but Grandma’s did a half-barrel roll and ended up, upside down on the aluminum sheet covering the butcher block island.

I guess Grandma’s pie made a big splat and skidded a few inches really making a mess. Mom got her pie landed safely on top of the oven and turned in shock to help Grandma. Mom said she felt just awful that the pie was effectively ruined. It was flat as a pizza but lumpy and gushy. Her words. It took a moment or two for them to gather up their thoughts and mom apologized and said she didn’t mean to ruin Grandma’s pie. Grandma was unperturbed, of course. She’d been through her share of kitchen accidents as had my mother several of which were a heck of lot worse than upside down pie.

“Dear,” said Grandma. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll take it as it. Even upside down and uneven. After all, it’s just pie!”

I think you had to be there.


Post a Comment

Comments are always welcome. Thanks. If in doubt about which profile to choose from, use "anonymous."

<< Home