My mother died six years ago. But I still talk to her – usually in that thin space between consciousness and sleep. Last week I had something troubling me and I knew it would almost certainly keep me awake. Or if I woke up in the middle of the night, I’d start obsessing which, as you know, doesn’t help solve anything.
So I asked my mother what I should do. And the answer came loud and clear.
What the hell did that mean? But I did go to sleep. When I woke in the middle of the night she was still telling me to bake pies. In the morning I asked my psychologist husband what he thought it meant. A wise man, he said he thought my mother was telling me to stop worrying (easier said than done) and do something that gave me joy.
My mother was an Iowa farm girl and from her I learned to cook, bake and preserve food. We weren’t a mother and daughter who shared confidences. I didn’t consider her my best friend, but she was always there when I needed her. And she taught me confidence and how to do things. She told me I could do or be anything I wanted. At age eight, when I told her I wanted to be a brain surgeon and a ballerina, she didn’t crack a smile.
When I asked for advice, she gave it, but didn’t interfere if I didn’t follow her suggestions. This time I thought I should listen.
So I baked pies the next day. I haven’t baked a peach pie in a very long time, even though they were my favorite kind when I was a kid. I even made the crust from scratch.
When they came out of the oven, I took one to Laura’s office and she and her accountant, Betty Ann, and I took a pie break. Baking pies and sharing them with friends gave me joy.
Sometimes you just need to do what your mother tells you.