Matthew’s grandmother passed away a couple of years ago. Since then the family has not gone to eat together for Mother’s Day and this year we had no plans. Matthew let me sleep in and then I got up and did dishes and laundry. Same old, same old. Jamie had made cards and paper flowers for his grandmothers and we went to their respective houses to give them their gifts and then headed back home so I could fix dinner. I had chicken out to cook. When I opened the package it smelled funny. Though in date, the meat was no good. I fished around my cabinets and the refrigerator in search of a replacement. With no meat thawed and no time to thaw any, I took out a package of tri-color pasta to make noodles with veggies and cheese. I started the water on to boil when the phone rang. It was Matthew’s mother. “Have you already fixed dinner?” she asked. I told her about what happened and she said, “Good. We’re taking you to Shoney’s.” I was struck dumb for a moment, as silly as it sounds.
Pie. I am going to have the pie.
Dinner was pleasant. Jamie filled up on bread, but I didn’t concern myself with his nutritional deficits. The meal was done. The waitress came, “Can I get you anything else? Mother’s get free strawberry pie. Would you like one?” Yes. Yes. I would. This is it. This is the moment. The waitress comes right back with the pie and sits it in front of me. It holds no form. It is a piece of crust with sickening sweet strawberry goo and fat over-ripened strawberries. At any other moment I would find this desert to be less than appealing. Matthew has gone to the bathroom. I’m the only one at the table who knows what this moment means. I long to have my camera to take a picture of this pie, but I am out of luck. There is no camera to capture this momentous occasion. How could I have forgotten my camera?
I pick up my fork and cut a fat strawberry in half along with the crust under it. My grandfather had craved these strawberry pies when he was dying of cancer. My parents had brought them home at least once a week. He loved them. My grandmother loved them. I took the bite. It was perhaps the worst pie I have ever eaten. The strawberries were bitter and the goo too rich. I still ate every bite. The years of longing disappeared. I glanced at my baby, now just three months shy of being a five year old boy. Why had this disgusting pie held such meaning to me for so long when the very thing it symbolized had disappeared nearly five years before? I hope we go to Red Lobster next year.