I’m new to the grieving process, and apparently it’s a mixed back of laughter, tears and numbness. My 95-year-old grandma (who I thought would live well into her hundreds!) passed away this afternoon. I knew it was coming and that I’d totally be prepared to deal, but yeah…not so much. Losing a loved one is hard – even if they’ve been on this earth for almost a century! A boatload of memories, regrets, joy and pain have all come together in a perfect storm of crazy inside my head. Luckily (or perhaps it was fate?) I met Beth Howard, bestselling author of Making Piece: a Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie, at a BookPeople event last week. This incredibly brave woman spoke candidly in front of a roomful of strangers about the death of her husband – and how she got through it with pie, good friends and a good old-fashioned American road trip.
Even though I’m not going to see grandma’s photo on the Today Show’s Smucker’s birthday announcements, it’s comforting to know she lived a long, full life. Despite my lack of culinary skills, I’m going to bake an apple crumble pie in her honor. I always felt happy, safe and warm in her presence, which is kind of how I feel when I indulge in a gooey slice of apple crumble pie. I hope she’s sharing a slice with grandpa in heaven right at this very moment. If you want to know more about this wonderful woman, check out the obit that I wrote.
Here’s some more info about the book. Doesn’t it sound fascinating?
From Goodreads:“You will find my story is a lot like pie, a strawberry-rhubarb pie. It’s bitter. It’s messy. It’s got some sweetness, too. Sometimes the ingredients get added in the wrong order, but it has substance, it will warm your insides, and even though it isn’t perfect, it still turns out okay in the end.”
When journalist Beth M. Howard’s young husband dies suddenly, she packs up the RV he left behind and hits the American highways. At every stop along the way—whether filming a documentary or handing out free slices on the streets of Los Angeles—Beth uses pie as a way to find purpose. Howard eventually returns to her Iowa roots and creates the perfect synergy between two of America’s greatest icons—pie and the American Gothic House, the little farmhouse immortalized in Grant Wood’s famous painting, where she now lives and runs the Pitchfork Pie Stand.
Making Piece powerfully shows how one courageous woman triumphs over tragedy. This beautifully written memoir is, ultimately, about hope. It’s about the journey of healing and recovery, of facing fears, finding meaning in life again, and moving forward with purpose and, eventually, joy. It’s about the nourishment of the heart and soul that comes from the simple act of giving to others, like baking a homemade pie and sharing it with someone whose pain is even greater than your own. And it tells of the role of fate, second chances and the strength found in community