Last week I spent some time with my sisters-in-law cleaning out my in-laws’ house. They both passed away last year and it has been a job that has loomed over us for some time.
What’s interesting about a job like that is not just deciding what to keep and what to discard, but also being stopped dead in your tracks with a memory, a story, and sometimes a regret. We would be going along in a great sort of rhythm, then a drawer full of pictures would stop us. Time to pause. Time to remember.
I didn’t grow up in this family, but I have been a part of it for more than forty years – a lifetime of stories and cherished memories and accumulated “stuff.” The stuff has been trashed or kept, sorted and boxed, donated or claimed. All of the memories have been stored in our hearts forever.
I pulled the pie tins out from the lower cupboard. Suddenly I was sitting at the table in the dining room on my husband’s birthday with the most glorious lemon merengue pie (probably two) ready to share. Mounds of fluffy, sweet whiteness atop a creamy custard of just-right tartness. My mother-in-law would ring the pies with the built-in crust loosener. That’s what made these pie tins so special, and I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. Definitely a keeper.
Next month, on Allan’s birthday, I will try to recreate that glorious lemon merengue pie as I do every year. I’ve gotten close, but it’s never quite the same. Perhaps this year will be different. Perhaps there’s magic in that pie tin.