My maternal grandmother, Anne Elizabeth Bender, was a force to be reckoned with. Her strength and resilience knew no bounds. When my mom was two years old, my grandfather passed away leaving my grandma with four children under the age of four. This was 1953, when mothers generally didn’t have jobs outside of the home. But when life tests you, you sink or swim. And let’s just say Anne Elizabeth Bender chose to put on a fashionable bathing suit and outswim the likes of Michael Phelps!
Among the many things my grandma loved to do, this woman loved to eat. I mean, she L-O-V-E-D to eat. A very early memory of mine is complaining at the dinner table that maybe I’d eaten too much dinner and wouldn’t have room for dessert. “Come on, Natalie, buck up. I always do my best eating when I’m full!” she said, followed by the coolest of winks and going in for more.
I always loved visiting Grandma for a plethora of reasons, but one of best was when she would take me out, just me, for a girl’s lunch. The first time we did this, she asked the server for the dessert menu first. I was overcome with confusion. She looked at me and said, “What? We’re having pie for lunch, and that’s all there is to it!” My inner dialogue screamed, “Is she serious? Is this a set-up to see if I’ll oblige and then turn me in to my mom? Or is this happening? Actually happening?” And then she proceeded to order four pieces of pie. FOUR enormous, decadent, rich pieces of glorious pie. I told my grandma that I loved her tremendously and that this was the best darn lunch I’d ever had, and that I promised not to tell my mom. She turned to me and said, “Oh, go ahead and tell her. It’ll make her green with envy!”
To this day, I’ll occasionally treat myself to pie for lunch. I go out by myself and grab the most caloric and delectable pie that can be found. And I think about how lucky I am to have had the world’s best, pie-loving grandma in all the land. As silly as it sounds, it’s my way of honoring my grandma. And, let’s just be honest, who doesn’t want an excuse to have pie for lunch?
By Natalie Coyne