Yesterday morning, my Grandma was taken to the hospital by ambulance. My sister called to give me the news. It was hard to make out what she was saying between her heaving and teary breaths.
Let me make an aside here. It’s actually kind of crazy how the news was disseminated. My Grandma in Virginia called my aunt in North Carolina to say she wasn’t feeling well and was going to the hospital. At least that’s what I think happened. My aunt then called my mother, who was in northern Virginia, to tell her what was going on. Mom didn’t answer because she was busy with my nephew and missed the called. My aunt then called me, but I too missed the call. I was pumping gas and had left my phone in the car. My aunt then called my sister in D.C. who should never be the first person in the family to get bad news about grandma. She and Grandma are super tight and my sister doesn’t handle even the idea of Grandma being sick very well. My sister then called me in Maryland and I in turn called Mom. Mom was using her irritated fussy voice with me when explaining to me that Grandma had yet to call 911. Grandma decided it best to get dressed first. That irritated Mom to no end. I don’t know if she fussed at Grandma, but she certainly used her fussy voice with me about the whole thing.
The symptoms that Grandma described were very serious and so we were all a little nervous and a lot scared once we heard what was going on.
Grandma’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks and the first thing I thought was, “Please don’t let her leave during this time of year. That would just be awful.” Then I started thinking about this time of year, which conjured up thoughts of Grandma’s Sweet Potato Pie. My Grandma makes the best sweet potato pie in this universe and the next. I know you think your grandma’s pie is the best, but you’re wrong. My Grandma’s pie can beat your grandma’s pie on any given day. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas I can be sure that Grandma will send me home with a pie.
A couple of years ago, I got her to teach me how to make the pie. I know I wrote down what she told me, but when I went to try to make the pie a few months ago, I couldn’t find the instructions anywhere. The result was horrible. I forgot some important ingredient and the thing didn’t bake up right at all. So right before Thanksgiving this year, I called Grandma with pen and paper in hand, so that I could once and for all have this recipe.
“Grandma, I can’t remember how to make The Sweet Potato Pie. I have three or four large sweet potatoes. How much butter do I need?”
“Three or four large potatoes? How big are they?”
“I don’t know. They’re big, but they all fit in my big pot without a problem.”
“Hmmm…. well, you’ll probably need three or four sticks of butter.”
“Three or four?”
“Yes. I bake by seeing, so if they’re big potatoes, I think three or four sticks should do it.”
She went on to give me other general guesstimates of amounts of the other ingredients, but when it came to sugar, her tune changed.
“How much sugar should I use, Grandma?”
“You’ll need one cup of sugar.”
“Just one cup?”
“Yep. You’ll need one cup of sugar.”
Her sudden exactness made me laugh to myself. I made mention of it in the notes I was taking so that I would always remember it.
I made the pie filling the night before Thanksgiving. I baked one pie and froze the remaining filling. The night before I got the call that Grandma was going to the hospital, I unthawed that filling and baked the pie. Right before I got the call, I was thinking about how good that pie was going to taste for dessert that night.
I love Grandma for many, many reasons. She is loving and loyal, steadfast and resilient, funny, strong, and kind. Whenever I taste her Sweet Potato Pie I think of her; I think of who she is and all that she means to me. Now that I know how to make it, I can be sure that those thoughts and memories will never fade, for if they do, all I have to do is pull out my recipe to conjure them up again.
I talked to Grandma last night and she seemed her regular spunky self. She should be discharged tonight or tomorrow.
Tonight, when I eat a slice of pie, not only will I bless the food, I’ll also be asking a special blessing for my Grandma, the originator of the best sweet potato pie known to mankind.
Me and Grandma at my law school graduation in 2006.