Cherry pie and other helpful memories to lend comfort
A favorite memory of mine is going to a farm in Colorado for homemade cherry pie. It was years ago, when I was a student and met my dear Baheej. He was finishing his doctorate.
Baheej loved cherry pie and somehow he had found a farm where the woman made cherry pies and sold them to passersby. They were delicious. You had to go up to the house and knock, so I guess marketing was word-of-mouth. There was a "guard goose" there in the barnyard who was ferocious. Once he nipped Baheej pretty good from behind! But the pie was worth it.
And decades later, after we moved from Massachusetts to Sleepy Hollow, we used to go up to Door County, Wisconsin, which is a premier cherry-growing area. All the farms around Egg Harbor and other nearby villages grow cherries and make cherry pies, cherry jam and jars of preserved cherries to take home.
Sometimes we would stop, get a cherry pie, and eat it for lunch right there in the farmyard. They provided forks! Wow what a treat.
That's a long history of cherry pies. I have never made one myself but I think I will try one day. A friend once made an excellent cherry pie and gave it to Baheej for his birthday. Someday I'll make one for the memories, and for Baheej. They actually sell Door County cherries in jars at Woodman's, so that's the place to start.
Funny how certain foods trigger fond memories. Odd that cherry pies popped up in my mind for today's column, and that in planning for the columns I had even penciled in cherry pie as the topic for June 21.
But "come to think about it," this is the beginning of what I have mentioned before -- the start of my own "tough time" of the year. It begins tomorrow, June 22, and runs though Aug. 18 every year like clockwork. Usually, for most people, the "tough time" is not such a long period. However, as fate would have it, this is a very intense and stressful stretch for me, and encompasses a great number of events -- many anniversaries and memories, some good and many sad.
I hope this is not wallowing, but it starts with Baheej's first stroke June 22, my brother Nic's death June 26, Baheej's second stroke early July, his birthday July 23, his death Aug. 11, funeral and burial, and our Aug. 18 wedding anniversary. So I am especially bracing for Aug. 11, 13, 16, 18.
Not all of the above happened in the same year of course -- but the anniversaries of all these do happen in the same year, every year.
Such anniversaries are difficult, each on their own, as many bereaved know. And the first year or two after the death of a beloved, they are especially hard on people. The first birthday, anniversary, first holiday, first trip alone, first party alone or without your spouse, parent, sibling, child -- all very sad. Hopefully not all bunched up in a seven-week stretch as so many of mine are.
The point is: These annual anniversaries bring up a whole range of feelings and memories, from happy to tragic and everything in between. It is good, and I find it's healthy, to try to think of as many happy memories as possible; this provides some self-protection during one's annual tough time or times.
I was grateful that, this year, my first thought as June 22 approached -- was cherry pie and how much Baheej loved cherry pie. We used to get it at Piece of Cake Bakery but that's no longer here because the wonderful bakers retired. I must find a bakery that makes excellent cherry pie!
• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at email@example.com or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Anderson-Kleif-Susan.