My husband’s a good guy. I met him about 46 years ago at our church in a meeting I set up. I had this idea that our church ought to sponsor a “youth center” for neighborhood kids. I worked with the junior-high youth and we had over 20 showing up each Friday night. My pastor thought, rather than my idea of having civic groups sponsor the center, he ought to see if area pastors were interested. I took off work to make my presentation and plea for help from other churches. I expected middle-aged pastors to come.
Before the meeting, I’d had to compose the letter that told about the meeting. Instead of saying something concise like, “Please come to a 10 AM meeting on Wednesday at Edgebrook Covenant Church to discuss the possibility of hosting an area youth center,” I, a future novelist, wrote, well, maybe you’d call what I wrote an epistle. My letter was at least two pages long. I told why a youth center was important. I am sure I talked about how a youth center would prevent wrong choices by kids with little else to do. I am not sure what stats I cited or what personal stories I included, but I took up a couple pages as I poured my heart out. One of the “epistles” landed on the pastor’s desk of another area church where my husband served as an intern during his seminary years.
When the senior pastor asked Paul if he was interested in going to a meeting about youth centers, he would have only said yes to fill up the hours. He would happily tell you that the only thing he knew about youth centers was that usually the frustrated middle-aged women who organized them had more problems than the kids. He says that every time someone asks how we met. I like the way he tells it, always saying, “…but lo and behold (he speaks Bible occasionally even though he’s retired), it wasn’t a frustrated middle-aged woman leading the meeting, it was a (dramatic pause while we all wait to see if he’s going to use the word ‘frustrated’, and by the grace of God, he may have only done that once…) young lady with long red hair and I had to muster up all the interest I could in youth centers.” Love him, still.
So, by combining God’s perfect timing with what turned out to be our passing the buck, the Lutheran church about a block away thought a youth center would be the right way to have their conscientious objector use his time while they hosted the center. A few months later, we married and began our decades of mostly church ministry which took us to several Midwest congregations and added two much loved children who are now also adults involved in Christian ministry.
But back to coconut cream promises. I have made a lot of things from scratch and my good man loves rich desserts. Actually he loves lots of foods, but with that disgusting feature: he still weighs the same as the day we married. I say I’ve added a whole other person to our marriage . . . or I say I have a skinny woman inside screaming to get out and if she would leave, I’d weigh about the right amount! However, one of the things I’ve seldom made for our family is meringue pie. My mother could make two pies before breakfast, but for a number of years I seemed to be pastry-challenged. My rolled out crusts usually fell in love, apparently, with my rolling pin and I’d have to forcefully separate the two of them, kind of like dating couples who ought to know better. Therefore, because of the crust/rolling pin almost obscenities, I generally chose to use the tamer and more sedate graham cracker crusts, but I’d make their fillings rich, too. I could make meringues; I just didn’t make pies that used them.
Our son would testify to that truth. He was in high school, I think, when we were at a food stand our church was running. It was Biblesta, an annual event, and our church ladies had to bring at least 35 pies to sell for our church’s Christian education program for the rest of the year. We sold other things, but homemade pies were a big draw. Anyway, he was helping with the booth and came over to me with a half-eaten slice of a meringue pie and said, “Mom, you gotta find out how to make this. I don’t know if they melted marshmallows or what, but this top stuff is really good.” Thankfully not many heard him! But back to my husband.
My good man doesn’t ask for much. In fact, as we’ve grown older, we’ve discovered we have most of what we need, except maybe for milk and bread. I did know, though, that if my mom were to make a pie for him, hands down, he’d request a coconut cream pie. She would, with ease and pleasure, make one of those for him. But, of course, if Mom’s still making her “famous” meringue pies, chocolate, lemon, or coconut merengue, she’s tending to that in heaven – probably with a cool oven since, well, you know nothing’s going to be real hot up there. This year, though, he was approaching a BIG number for his birthday, so I asked if he’d like a coconut cream pie for his birthday.
Yes, he wanted a coconut cream pie, but he had an additional request, which kind of surprised me. Since I RARELY would make such a dessert, he wanted me to make it when we didn’t have company. Fishing a bit deeper, it wasn’t because he was afraid I’d not be able to do it; he was afraid he might not get to enjoy it … at least not more than one piece. I considered that a compliment and he is typically a very unselfish man, so I think it’s okay he made the request as he did. I went ahead and bought the ingredients.
Here, then, is how this pie turned out today, a day without anyone expected at our door or in our occasional guest room. If you’d like the recipe, since I am the kind of cook that adds this and that to a recipe, please contact me and in the subject line, just write “Coconut Cream Pie Recipe” and I’ll get it to you within a reasonable amount of time.
Oh, and really, the coconut cream pie wasn’t too tough to make. I did let the crust get a little brown before I poured the pudding part into the shell . . . because I was . . . working on my . . . website.
BUT I did keep my coconut cream promise to my good man.