Julie passed away a year ago today, 10 Dec 2017
Two nights before thanksgiving, I was at the movie with my three youngest boys. I hadn’t turned off my phone, and I had to ignore several desperate text messages and phone calls, mostly from my son Kendall. Finally I decided to walk out and answer him. He wanted to know how to make pie.
Over the next 48 hours I answered many questions about pie making. Pie questions came from Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and Missouri, as our children were scattered this Thanksgiving. With each answer I had to add this disclaimer, “I was not the pie expert, that was your mother, I just know what I watched her do, and heard her say.” I am surprised how much I did know about making pies. Between us all, we made 12 pies at Thanksgiving.
Julie was expert at making pies. She fussed and fretted over her crusts, careful not to over handle the dough, careful not to let the dough get warm, careful not to add too much water. The pastry dough was difficult to work with, and required finesse, skill, and delicate handling to stay together and not leak juices. The end results were tender, flaky, buttery crusts, filled with from scratch ingredients. Pecan pies, with freshly chopped pecans, freshly roasted before adding them to the other caramely, custardy ingredients. Triple apple pies, dotted with butter, some with flaky double crusts, and some with cheddar streusel topping. Lots of fresh peach pies, and occasionally blueberry pies, combining fresh blueberries with sugar, lemon, and tapioca, then baked in flaky double crusts.
A lot of people are indifferent when it comes to pie. Not the children of Julie Hatch. They are pie snobs. They turn up their proud noses at the sight of store bought pie, restaurant pie, or pie with premade store crust and canned filling. They have been spoiled rotten when it comes to pie, and can get disgustingly gluttonous over good homemade pie.
Today was the one-year mark since Julie’s passing. This year I have cried my heart out, laid on the floor sobbing and clutching my knees, been filled with regret, questioned the existence of God, screamed at the heavens, prayed for mercy, felt the love of my children, been supported by friends, and found an amazing joy and peace as Christmas approaches. I sometimes feel like I have failed Julie, but I am working on my faults and trying to make her proud of me. I am determined to raise my children, her children, our children in the happy memory of their mother, and in the presence of a happy father, in a home were the virtues are lived.
Our children are doing well. They have been mercifully blessed with faith that their mom is happy, that their mom is no longer sick and sad, that she will always be their mom, and be waiting for them in heaven, and that she is watching them now. They are doing much better than I am, and much better than I ever dreamed they would. She must be watching out for them. Even though I don’t hear or feel Julie’s presence like I had hoped, I feel like I have made some very critical decisions, that may have been influenced from the other side, the good side, from Julie. I like to believe that she is also with the children, close to them and working her influence on them.
Most of my Children were able to come home this weekend. We visited and decorated Julie’s grave. We looked at photos of her and remembered good times. We went to eat sushi, her favorite food. And we made pies. Good pies. Delicious pies. Buttery apple pie with cheddar streusel topping, and rich chocolate pecan pie.
For Julie’s children, and me, the real magic of good pie, is that it is a taste of their mother. A remembrance of wonderfully happy times, with a mother who put her greatest efforts of love into the crafting of those amazing pies, and the crafting of a loving home.