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Another Day in the County

Living a day ahead

© Another Day in the Country

One of the lovely things about living in a very small puddle is that you get to know folk’s likes and dislikes. You get to know their defining characteristics and whether or not they are good company. You find out quickly whom you can depend upon and who’s a flake.

For those neighbors and acquaintances who become friends, you get to watch their children grow up — either in photographs or in person. You discover their hobbies and what they are good at doing. You learn about their taste and even their favorite foods.

It’s a special friend who knows what to cook when you come over for a visit or brings you comfort food when you are sad.

We lived near our friend Darlene Sondergard for more than 15 years and discovered that her very favorite pie was coconut crème.

Through the years we’ve had several excellent cooks in our area who made good pies in general and good coconut crème in particular. But there’s only one spot that I know of in Marion County that still turns out wonderful pies, and that’s the Main Street Café in Durham.

It’s long been a country custom to take food to the family when a loved one dies. When Darlene died suddenly, the first thing that Jess thought of taking to the family was, of course, Darlene’s favorite coconut crème pie.

Being a working woman, Jess didn’t have time or expertise (she thought) to make a coconut crème pie, so she headed over to Durham. And, sure enough, they were just finishing up a fresh coconut crème pie for their daily customers.

Jess asked for the whole pie.

“We really like to know a day ahead,” she was told.

“Wouldn’t we all,” Jess chuckled, “but our friend Darlene died rather suddenly, and we need a coconut crème pie to take to her family because it was her favorite!”

They gave her the pie.

“What would folks bring to your loved ones to remind them of you?” Jess asked me when she got home.

“Would it be cherry cobbler?”

I said that either that or plain old cherry pie would do.”

“Mine would be cheesecake — the fancier the better!” she said.

I loved the story of making off with the one and only coconut crème pie at the café in Durham.

In case you were a patron on June 21 and wanted some, now you know it went to a good cause!

This got me to thinking about being warned a day ahead for whatever is coming in our lives.

I wonder what Darlene would have done with a heads-up?

My sister and I were privileged to be with our friend Tony as he came to the end of his long life.

He was very aware that the end of his days was approaching and he used those days really well, in my opinion.

He called in friends to thank them for the ways they had blessed his life. He even gave people like Darlene and Kink gifts — thanking Kink for all the good service he’d given Tony through the years at the Sondergard Garage, which had actually been closed for quite a long time. But Tony remembered.

He called in the friend who helped him get, as Tony put it, “a great grave plot” out at the cemetery. He thanked his caregivers. He hosted one last party for the Kentucky Derby and laughed when the horse he bet on lost. He counted his days and used them well.

I learned a lot from that encounter and vowed to start giving those thanks and gifts now since “a day ahead” isn’t much warning.

So what would you do if you had a 24 hours’ notice? Pay all your bills. Mow the lawn one last time. Write a letter to my grandson. Gather the eggs, savoring the blue ones especially! And bake a cherry pie — preferably with my very own cherries from the tree out by the chicken house.

Yes! A piece of warm cherry pie, eaten with friends and family, preferably, and topped with a huge scoop of very cold vanilla ice cream on another day in the country.

Last modified July 5, 2017

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