An Ode To My Mother

An Ode To My Mother
Lois Schertz (1920 – 2017)

This should have been written for Mother’s Day. Apologies, Mom. But she would have said, “that’s OK”.  She would have excused the belated honor simply because she thought we were perfect. At least that is what she told me, my brother and my sister.

Several of my mother’s classic recipes are listed on the Upper Krust. While she is duly noted as author of the recipes, she deserves a bit more recognition considering her impact on my quest for the perfect pie.

Growing up, there was never a realization that my mother’s pies were special. My mother cranked out pies with seemingly little effort which probably led me to believe that making a great pie was no big deal. Pie was present at many meals, but we did not make a fuss over them. It was later in life, college I believe, when I realized 1) good pie was not necessarily a given and 2) just because someone bakes a pie does not mean that it is something special. It began to occur to me that perhaps our family had taken for granted the quality of our mother’s pies.

My mother never saw herself as a good baker or even a good cook. Being recognized for her pie baking abilities was not something that she aspired to. She loved classical music and told me that when she was a child she wanted to play violin. However, growing up on a farm in Central Illinois did not lend her that opportunity. She loved books and learning and unlike many of her friends went to college and became a teacher.

While being a homemaker was not her goal in life, my mother dutifully got the meals on the table and made pies.  When she married my father, and his mother being a fine pie baker, there was an expectation from my father that good pie would be a part of our lives. And so the art was honed. But she was much more than a baker of pies. She expertly balanced her love of music and books with what was considered at that time “homemaker duties”. She led a rich life that embraced education and the arts.

Later in life, as both me and my brother took an interest in baking, we would ask her to share her pie baking technics. She seemed surprised at first, but eventually was pleased that we held her pies up as the gold standard.

My mother was so much more than a very fine baker of pies. Her love of life and music and each of her children left an indelible imprint on me. So much so that it’s hard for me not to fondly remember her when I bake pies.

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