“There’s no trouble in this world so serious that it can’t be cured with a hot bath, a glass of whiskey and the Book of Common Prayer.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
Back in my day, there was a soul food restaurant in Russellville named “Helen and Ellen’s.” Nothing personal toward my mama, but it was the best food I have ever eaten in my life. Specifically, the pie these women made was just beyond. Its original location was right across the highway from Gardner Junior High, which is how I managed to eat there so often after school. The restaurant later moved to Fourth Street before eventually closing.
Every so often, when I’m having one of those conversations with a group about the best [fill in the blank], I assert with confidence that is backed by anyone who ever dined there, I have eaten the world’s best chocolate pie, made with love by Christian women, at Helen and Ellen’s. That pie was magic.
At visitation for my granddad’s funeral in January, my sister brought a woman over to me I didn’t recognize immediately. It was Ms. Ellen. She and my sister work together now. She paid her respects. I told her I missed her pies terribly and still thought about them. She said she still made pies for special occasions. I told her my birthday is a special occasion, and this year I wanted my own chocolate pie. She promised me she would make one.
I completely forgot about the whole exchange. Then my sister sent me a text last week: Ms. Ellen contacted her and wanted to know when I wanted my pie. My birthday is in November, right? Jamie and I were both floored. Who does that? Who remembers an exchange from a funeral ten months earlier?! I know Ms. Ellen loves my sister. She’s an easy person to love. I know her kindness is really for Jamie, but still there’s a slice of it for me and I am grateful.
My sister made arrangements to bring me the pie over the weekend. It was every bit as good as I remember.
I was in a bit a funk last week thinking how mean and cruel and hard a place the world is. I was about to decide people are no damn good at all. Then Ms. Ellen made me a pie. People find faith in humanity in a lot of places. Hot baths and whiskey have helped me in the past. A prayer is never far from my lips. For this particular bad mood, chocolate and meringue were just what I needed. It was magic.