My friend was the youngest of 5 whose siblings were always accompanied by assorted girlfriends and boyfriends at the table and on the couch, often lying side-by-side eating cake after church. My friend was the blonde, blue-eyed baby sister who was adored and admonished by all. I was protected from this admonishment as I never felt entitled to the the last slice of pie. I was content to eat and pass the gravy and listen to the arguments volleying back and forth across the table. I was quite fascinated by it, coming from a home where I was the oldest child and the only thing volleying across the table were frozen peas.
The food in that house was probably the best food in all of Beamsville. Strawberries were not bought at fruit stands but picked fresh with the morning dew. Tomatoes were kept in the sun as they should, meat cooked until tender rather than leather. Cold-cuts and cheese were the highlights of a sandwich rather than a side-show to the bread. Pie was flaky and oozing with Niagara fruit. Food was respected and paid attention to. I think margarine was the kind of product that was mocked in that house. Along with shake n' bake and Kraft Pizza kits. However, low brow Cheezies, Sour Cream and Onion chips and Mars Bars were not sniffed at but valued for all their delectable goodness. It was quality, not labels that mattered.
My friend's mother was recently eulogized as "A quiet servant dutifully working behind the scenes." Indeed. She rocked a lot of babies for others, fed her family, and all assorted folk who stepped in her door, quality food that couldn't be found on a menu anywhere in the Niagara Peninsula. She spent over 30 years delivering Meals on Wheels to the elderly or sick and always included a nice piece of pie. She cared for an elderly lady across the street as if she was her own mother - I remember the passing of meals and baskets of fresh peaches across the street.
But she wasn't quiet nor dutiful.
She didn't do anything out of duty or obligation, she wanted to do these things and did them freely, picking and choosing the things that suited her. She didn't have to include a slice of home-made pie in a Meals on Wheels lunch, but she did it anyway. She felt in her heart it was right and she did it. It was an inner obligation, an inner standard that was her own.
And no, she wasn't quiet. She was bold. Bold in her generosity - no one could stand in her house and not be fed or cared about like they were her own charge. Before you knew it, you were sitting down with a generously iced piece of cake even though it was no one's birthday. She was also bold with her opinions. Those opinions flying at Sunday dinner? She was right in the middle of them. And though I never knew what they all were so passionately arguing about, Mrs. Wikkerink would state her final opinion and end it by saying "Period!" That was that. She may have been un-educated by today's standards, but she knew things and stood her ground.
And she was right.
People need to be fed good food no matter who they are or what they've done. Period!
May you rest in peace knowing that your pie saved people in ways they have only begun to understand.