My earliest birthday memory is the chocolate cake with fresh strawberries nestled in her butter-cream frosting because in June the strawberries in her garden were plentiful, sweet and juicy. She let me eat the cake with my hands. When I turned 12, she started making me her spectacular French Silk Pie. Never have I been able to reproduce the taste sensation she magically created with so few ingredients. It was a concoction of sugar, butter, eggs, unsweetened chocolate and vanilla in a flaky golden brown crust made with real lard and served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. The proportions were exactly right and the feeling of the filling as it warmed in your mouth and melted across your tongue contrasting with the light flaky crust was like no other. It might have been the teaspoon of vinegar she added to the dough, or maybe it was because the eggs were fresh from the chickens next door and the cream was from Clasby's Dairy just down the road but really I know it was special because she cared.
I loved the way she smiled when I walked in the room. It was her smile that truly substantiated, confirmed, approved, validated and gave force to my existence on the planet from the time I was born. I wonder how many times she smiled at me over our lives together. Every single time our eyes met, I got that smile, especially as she lost her ability to speak. It said "we exist in this moment in each others' lives, solid and loving and real". We didn't need words. No one ever smiled at me like that but her. That's what I miss.
|St. Anne with Mary statue from Chris Hart Studio|
With Jesus as a grandchild and Mary as her daughter, those who venerate St. Anne should have a pretty good chance at having their prayers answered, don't you think? I can't imagine a petition that wouldn't be given serious consideration because of her connections. I don't usually pray to St. Anne for anything but instead, I find myself giving thanks to St. Anne for bringing honor to motherhood and homemaking. The thing about the saints is that they are just people doing things they believe in, standing up for their values and principals regardless of the challenges they face. St. Anne is a saint because she is somebody's mom and she loved and cared for her child. She stayed true to her beliefs. She didn't conquer armies or fight the forces of evil like St. Michael. She wasn't clubbed to death for her beliefs like St. Jude. She wasn't an abused wife like St. Rita or have her eyes gouged out like St. Lucy. Instead, she was just a mom, loving and comforting her child and grandchild, hoping good things for them and encouraging and caring for them just like my mom.
So on my birthday, I think about my mother's smile and the French Silk Pie and I thank St. Anne. Without my mom I wouldn't have a birthday.