Yesterday, we interred the cremains of my parents-in-law, Frank and Janice Short, with a small committal ceremony with immediate family and the pastor from my in-law’s church.
Frank passed away in 2005, Janice in November of 2017.
Their children—David, Laura and Steve—decided to wait until a lovely day in July to fulfill the last of their parents’ wishes, to be buried together in a plot in Woodland Cemetery.
Janice wanted their ashes mixed together in the small burial vault. So a few hours before the committal, David, Laura and Steve poured their parents’ ashes into the vault under a tree in our back yard, a tree that holds one of the many wind chimes my mom-in-law so cherished. It was a beautiful, blue-sky, slightly breezy afternoon, but the wind chime remained still and silent.
Then Laura commented how mom and dad are glad to be together.
The wind chimes stirred, shifted, rang.
Laura smiled, and said, “anyone else notice that?”
Maybe—probably—it was just a random breeze doing what random breezes do on July afternoons to wind chimes hanging in trees.
But it was a comforting moment.
No surprise to anyone who knows me—I like to bake pies for friends and family.
A few days ago, I took a few moments to look through a random pile of papers on my desk. (I’m trying—again!—to get organized, but my desk seems to perpetually make a mess of itself.) I ran across this photo—me, circa 1987, with a peach pie. I’d forgotten that my pie-baking joy dates back that far. We would have just moved back to our home state from California. Maybe baking a pie was a way of creating comfort. Permanence. Acknowledgement that we were back for more than just a visit.
In the photo, next to me you can see a bit of my husband’s arm, my father-in-law at the sink in the background, my mother-in-law’s hand reaching for a glass of milk. I’m guessing my brother-in-law Steve took the photo? I’m not sure. In any case, it is a snapshot of a comforting moment, a “precious memory,” as the old hymn puts it.
My mother-in-law on the back wrote “best pie ever.” I’m quite sure it wasn’t. But that was Janice—ever generous, lavish even, in her kindness. (I can only aspire to that.) She was a master at creating comforting moments.
Maybe—probably—finding the photo was just a chance moment, not at all surprising given my messy-desk nature.
But running across the photo while anticipating much of the immediate family gathering for the brief commitment ceremony was, nevertheless, comforting.
A reminder of my in-laws and their personalities and spirits.
I texted Laura to double-check her favorite variation of apple pie. French Apple. (Recipe below.)
We’ll have it sometime this weekend. I hope it’s a comforting moment.
FRENCH APPLE PIE
1 9-inch pie pastry
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cup thinly sliced tart apples (Granny Smith works great!)
For crumb topping:
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
Heat oven to 425-degrees (F). Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and apples for filling. Put in pie crust. Mix flour, butter, brown sugar for crumb topping. Sprinkle on top of filling. Bake 50 minutes. May need to cover with foil last 10 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.