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Changes and Pies

A beloved family member bids a sad farewell to the happy life she has lived in her home. Although never the same, her life slowly becomes joyful once again.

Each autumn, Dad, David, and I raked Great Aunt Mary’s leaves into massive piles beside the road. Then we burned them. Not much is better than watching leaves burn after raking for hours.

I loved visiting her home on Dean Road and seeing my old friends. I’m not certain overjoyed would be the correct word, but I’m sure that Mrs. Kill had strong feelings when she’d spy me walking toward her home from Aunt Mary’s. Like a bad penny, I kept reappearing.

Great-Aunt Mary's house twelve years earlier (1952) Mom, baby David, unknown, Aunt Mary

Great-Aunt Mary’s house twelve years earlier (1952)
Mom, baby David, unknown, Aunt Mary

I never noticed Aunt Mary kept getting older. At age eighty-five she left her home and came to live with us. She arrived with her orange long-haired cat, Sandy.

“Hey, Aunt Mary, where’s Rascal?” I asked.

Aunt Mary sighed and took a moment to compose herself before answering. “Rascal was too old to adjust to a new home.”

Silence. I knew what that meant. After a minute, I said, “Well, at least you have Sandy Cat.

Sandy was old, too. The new environment confused him and after a couple of months he still refused to use his litter box. One morning he jumped onto a cabinet and threw up on Dad’s important papers. Aunt Mary had him join Rascal and became sadder.

Aunt Mary did start smiling again, but was never the same as at her own home. She became a visitor, not for a weekend, for the rest of her life.

She had cataracts and couldn’t see well, yet she asked to do any mending needing to be done. I often threaded her needle. Everyone needs to feel useful.

I regularly made bread and clover-leaf rolls. Aunt Mary watched and talked while I kneaded the dough, let it rise, punched it down, and baked. I also made pies and Aunt Mary happily helped.

She sat at the kitchen table, peeling, coring, and slicing apples while I cut shortening into flour. I rolled the dough and placed bottom crusts on pie-plates. Aunt Mary filled the cavities with apples and just the right amount of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. I covered the mounds with a top crust, cut several steam-holes (artistically arranged), and popped them into the oven. Shortly before removing, I brushed the crusts with a little butter; a trick I learned from my bread baking.

Five or six apple pies were standard business in addition to one or two chocolate pies for David. After I left home and Mom resumed baking, she made twice as many.

“Land sakes, I can’t believe how quickly these pies disappear,” marveled Aunt Mary. After receiving a Norton-size serving, her comment never varied—“That’s a great plenty.”

A tub of ice cream, usually vanilla or maple walnut, accompanied our pies. So did a block of cheese.

To this day, Dad never eats pie without saying, “A slice of pie without a piece of cheese, is like a kiss without a squeeze.”

One evening, David carefully cut an uncommonly small slice of chocolate pie. He ignored the tiny piece and proceeded to pick up the large portion surrounding it. His prank backfired as it folded in half and collapsed, spilling chocolate filling onto the table. He was left holding an empty crust. That was one pie that disappeared faster than usual.

Waste not, want not. David didn’t waste or want. He used a spoon on his scrambled pie.

Lesson learned: Fill your life with happy pies.

Related Posts: Chapter Seven: Blackballed Activities; Mary Reincarnated; Temporary Home; Chickens Never Forget; Farewell Performance

Now it’s your turn: Did an older relative move in with you?

© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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