It began with my dad’s passing. On the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007, I walked into his room at the assisted living center to discover his still form slumped over on a sofa. In the days that followed, I was in a state of shock and depression. My dad had finally become a good friend in the last decade of his life. Before that, our relationship had been on again off again.
My depression was the results of two things: The losing of my friend and in this losing, the harbinger of my own mortality. Nothing puts us in touch with our own mortality like the passing of a parent.
To say the least, I needed some comfort. I began to take my comfort in the form of pie – the kinds of pies that are a treat: cherry, apple, blackberry, blueberry. I had been blessed to grow up in a household where pie was commonplace. Sunday afternoon meals were usually accompanied with a pie. I knew the regiment of throwing a pie together. (Thanks Mom!) The smell and taste of pie was not only a physical comfort, it also transported me to my childhood in the 1950s when all the cares of the world were unknown. Homemade pie, common in the 50’s, had become more or less a novelty. All through that December, I baked pie, my ultimate comfort food.
As the holiday season passed and the new year (2008) started, I continued this practice. One morning in early January as I was pulling a pie form the oven, I decided to take the pie down the street to a real estate office that referred work to me. (I have a floor maintenance company.) As I walked into the office, all activity grinded to a halt. The pie was still hot and molecules carrying the smell of butter and sugar were flying all over the room. No one could concentrate! They couldn’t believe that I had brought them a pie, made from my own hands, hot out-of-the-oven, still smelling heavenly.
Pie was relatively easy for me to make, and it had such a jaw-dropping, spellbinding effect upon those who received them, I began to see the power of this rather simple gesture. I continued to make pies, often two at a time. Pie became a way for me to reach out to people, to connect with them, and it always elicited the same response: “You made a pie?! For me?!”
Pie became my excuse to reach out to people. During 2008, I honed my baking skills. I tested different brands of food processors. I experimented with different sizes of food processing bowls. I found the perfect size for making a two-crust pie. I took baking and cooking classes at Whole Foods, all the while I was baking two pies every day, unless work got in the way. I kept a record of how many pies I made that year and who I took them to. I made 343 pies in 2008.
Toward the end of that year, Cindy Lewis invited me to mentor in Covenant’s youth confirmation class. I told her yes, on the condition that she come to my house and I would show her how to make an apple pie. We struck a deal. I mentored; she came to my house. We made a pie and then we got married. Pie bridged the gap once again.
Within our Covenant family, people often experience depression due to the loss of a loved one, sickness, loss of work or any other of a thousand reasons that marginalize us. In April 2019, you will have the chance to bridge the gap and reach out to these people … with pie! Covenant is offering a pie-making class on Sunday, April 14, at 2 p.m. in FE 300. Class participants will learn how to make a pie and they will also learn the joy of giving it away. There are limited spots! To reserve your spot (first come, first served), register here. For questions, email Kay Austin.