I can’t think about Chocolate French Silk Pie without thinking of my Mom.
My mother was a baker and a cook. As a mother of 7 children, and caregiver of our big family of 9, Mom had to work outside of the home. In the early 60’s when most Moms stayed at home and raised their children, my Mom got up before the sun rose each morning to dress and leave for work. I can still remember her as she looked each evening when she came home from work, dressed in her white uniform, nude colored hose, white “nurses” shoes, and carrying the mandatory hair net in her pocketbook. (Yes, she called it a “pocketbook.”)
When Mom came home from work, having baked and cooked all day, she cooked again – enough for 9 people. Creating a meal out of what appeared to us kids to be empty cabinets and refrigerator, Mom created dinner. I still don’t know how she did it. She would cook and my sister Mary and I would do the dishes afterwards. Mom seemed to dirty every pan in the house, cooking in whirlwind speed. Mary and I would sing “Stop in the Name of Love,” “Leader of the Pack,” and other old songs making cleaning the kitchen almost fun. Mary was older so of course she always got to sing the good parts of the songs, I got to sing the chorus. (I think I still hold a grudge about that one!)
Years later, being the youngest child in my family, Mom and I spent a lot of time together after the older kids moved out or away. I can remember Mom coming home from work and telling me how many pies she’d made that day. Full of life, with a loud voice and a laugh that filled the room, she’d tell me everything she’d baked that day. I vividly remember one day in particular Mom proudly telling me that she’d made 10 Chocolate French Silk Pies. She was working at Harold’s Restaurant at the time in Portsmouth, Ohio. When I look back on that day, I remember that I let her words drift through the air without much response. How boring I thought at the time, baking pies. I don’t know if I responded like every teen aged kid would have at that age, but I basically swept past her words and started talking about something “really important” - like what was going on in my life. How could French Silk Pies compare to my latest drama, my important world.
Talking about French Silk Pies was a way for Mom to share her world with me, to share with me the context and content of her life at work. To this day I wish I had listened to her more closely, validated her work, asked questions, got her French Silk Pie recipe, and maybe even had her show me how to make one. I’d let her know that I was proud of her – that making great pies was something to be proud of, not to mention being a provider financially for us.
My Mom passed away two years ago today. I miss her more with each passing day. I often think of all the times she’d cook and bake for me. She’d make my favorite apple dumplings. If it was just the two of us at home for dinner, she’d often make us breakfast for dinner. I loved that – bacon, eggs and toast for dinner. More than anything though, I could see me through her eyes, and she thought I was pretty wonderful. I grew up with that - thinking I was o.k. Mom gave me that.
So why am I telling you this? I guess it’s to share and in a way to tell Mom that I heard her when she spoke.
Listen to those around you when they share with you the details of their day, even when it seems so mundane. Hear them, see them. Validate their words with a response. Let them know that they matter and that what they do is of value.
In Mom’s honor, I'm making a Chocolate French Silk Pie today. MH’s birthday is tomorrow and we’ll have pie instead of a cake. Mom would like that!
Me - "Annie's Little Shadow" My Mom