…..And the Sour


Sudden death makes grieving a bit more complicated. It has to do with the unspoken word. No chance to say “sorry” or “love you” or “thank you” or whatever else needed to be said. If I could give one piece of advice about any unfinished business, it would be to forgive yourself and talk to your loved one now because he/she is listening.

Much of the high school years for William and I were difficult. We butt heads a lot. The truth is I was an overprotective nag who did not choose her battles wisely. Clearly, I did not understand his military dream and my instincts led me in a direction that only a parent like me could understand. I needed to protect him from himself because no one else would.

It made no sense that at age 17 he could sign on that enlisted dotted line rather than go to college. He was smart, had his whole life ahead of him and wouldn’t that life be better with a college education, a bit more age and as an officer? Like my father I was determined to offer my children the best education I could. So off to one of the best high schools in the country he would go. Surely, he would change his mind and aspire to higher education like his peers.

OK, I admit I was wrong. While William flourished socially and athletically, he did just enough to get by academically. At this time in his life he just wasn’t interested in math or science or thoughts of college and I mistakenly thought I could change that. When I think about all those times I was breathing down his neck about homework, or being upset over grades or him not living up to expectations it makes me sad that I wasted so much precious time rather than seeing the road less travelled was the perfect path for him.


William is in the center

William graduated Valedictorian (OMG) of his navy corpsman class. There never was a doubt in my mind that when he loved something he could and would do it better than any one else. His Navy mission is what he loved and I finally came to grips with that. I apologized for being the nag. I admitted I was wrong. He understood my fears and I understood his dreams. These were the best words ever spoken in addition to “I love you no matter what.”

Don’t let the sour moments cloud all the good. Let them go. Where there is love there is forgiveness. Now, forgive me for sharing this most delicious sour cherry pie because I am not certain that sour cherries are readily available right now–maybe frozen or jarred. Certainly tuck it away for when you want to celebrate one of our great military leaders, George Washington, come February.

East Meets West Cherry Pie


2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup chilled shortening or lard

4 to 6 tablespoons chilled gingerale

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon sugar


3 (24 oz) jars pitted sour cherries (6 cups)

¼ teaspoon almond extract

1 ¼ cups sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

1/8  teaspoon  Asian 5 spice powder


2/3 cup quick cooking oats

1/3 cup chopped almonds

1/3 packed cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon Asian 5 spice powder

1/3 cup butter

For crust blend flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in shortening or lard with a pastry blender until mixture forms pea-sized crumbs. With a fork, stir in enough gingerale until dough holds together. Divide dough into 2 disks, one slightly larger than the other, wrap and chill while preparing filling and crumble. Drain liquid from cherries reserving ¼ cup. Place cherries in large mixing bowl. Add almond extract to reserved cherry liquid; pour over cherries in bowl. Mix sugar, cornstarch and 5 spice powder; blend well. Sprinkle sugar mixture over cherries and gently fold to combine; set aside. For crumble, in a medium bowl, mix oats, almonds, brown sugar, flour and 5 spice powder; cut in butter till mixture forms coarse crumbs. Heat oven to 500F. On lightly floured board roll out larger disk of dough to fit a 9-inch pie dish; ease crust into pie dish. Pour cherry filling into crust. Sprinkle crumble evenly over cherries. Roll out remaining dough and cut into strips. Weave strips over top of pie forming a lattice. Press ends of strips into crust rim. Fold bottom pastry over strips; seal and crimp edge.  Brush the lattice crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Place pie on a baking sheet. Place pie in oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 425F. Bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown. Cool. Garnish with a few fresh cherries, if desired.

8 thoughts on “…..And the Sour

  1. I love this, Lisa. I am getting the essence of William’s life and the soul of your relationship with him. Peace and Hope resonate throughout this post…

  2. Lisa, this project that you have begun, and all of the love you have put, and are putting into it, is something that makes a deep impression on so many lives in addition to your own. You are so wonderful, and as Will’s English teacher, I can tell you that he loved every minute with his family and peers, that he wrote some great stuff in my class, and that he just needed more freedom than a boarding school could offer. From your great love as a parent and wife to your always marvelous recipes, you are an inspired woman. I am so glad that I know you. On my end, I think and read and cook and ultimately share in your experiences on the other end, as audience. 🙂

    • Jen, I am so glad to know you are sharing this journey. I have a whole new appreciation for teachers like you who not only teach writing, but have mastered the craft as well. Writing from the heart seems to work and I apologize for my fragmented phrases and poor grammar ( lol). You will be pleased to know that in our most difficult conversations William told me that Taft wasn’t such a bad place after all. He appreciated the study skills and the intelligence that surrounded him there. He wanted to become a physician assistant and was now ready for college when he was killed. He had applications to University of Md and Wake Forest on his computer.

  3. You reminded me why we do our work…lifechronicles.org – it is our honor to record people saying what they need to say before it is too late…we actually offer our services posthumously so people can tell stories of a person after they are gone…sending you love…

    • Thanks for taking the time to write. Your organization sounds so interesting and your volunteers who help preserve people’s stories is important work. I would have loved to have captured my grandmothers’ in their kitchens.

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