When I was thirteen, my mother’s mother, my very own Grammy, told me (while she was making lemon meringue pie) that if anything ever happened to her, I should remember to make my mum two lemon meringue pies every year on her birthday. Reflecting back, I think one of the most charming things about this story so far was that my Grammy said this to me exactly like the risk that she was mortal was remote and unlikely. My mum loved lemon meringue pie, and Grammy had always made her one for her birthday, and after I was born, she had always made her two.
My mother’s birthday was June the 13th, and because mine is June the 14th, in 1968 she was in labour with me. She didn’t get her pie, and so my Grammy brought it to the hospital right after I was born. My grandmother held me, and my mum ate the entire thing. The whole pie. Not another single person got a slice, or asked for one. From then on, it was tradition… two pies on my mother’s birthday always… one for her, and one for everyone else.
When I was fourteen, my Grammy died very suddenly. I look back now with so much sympathy for my mum. I wish I’d had some way to relate to the pain she must have been in. My Gram was only 59, and as gutted as I am to lose my own mother, she was 74. It was a tiny bit more likely to happen, and I was robbed of less.
When I was fifteen, I made my mother two lemon meringue pies, and have continued to do so every single year, with very few exceptions, for the last 34 years. I’d make my mum’s pies, she’d make my cake, and with our birthdays separated by just a day, it was almost like we had the same birthday, they were so linked to me.
Today my mother would have been 75. I didn’t call her at midnight, and she won’t call me tonight at 12:01 – both of us trying to be the first people to wish each other a happy birthday. I didn’t make two lemon meringue pies. Nobody wore the meringue noses, and nobody will.
You know, I’ve never liked pie, and I don’t think I’ll make them again.
Happy Birthday Mum.
I miss you.