My grandma McG made the best cherry pies I've ever tasted. Her crusts were always flaky, and the cherry filling was just the right balance of tart-sweet. Her pies were pretty, too, with perfect lattice tops, shiny with egg white and delicately crusted with sugar.
Her chocolate pies -- and her lemon pies -- were good, too, piled high with meringue.
She'd learned to turn out perfect pies quickly when she and grandpa lived out on the farm when they were first married. Grandma cooked for the crews of threshers who'd come by each year, and she told me once it was better than a cooking class. “Those men were hungry, and they wanted lunch, not excuses,” she told me.
While I sometimes watched as grandma baked, I never thought to ask her to teach me what she was doing. I guess I just assumed she would always be around. And she never presumed to teach me.
She wasn't always around, of course. She died suddenly, leaving behind a grief-stricken family -- and a cherry pie on the counter.
I've thought often about that missed opportunity, and I'm pretty sure that if grandma had known how much I'd wish I could bake pies like she did, she would have shown me all her pie-making techniques and tricks. I just didn't think to ask, and she didn't think to tell me.
If you are blessed to still have a grandma who can show you how to do things, ask her to teach you. And if you are a grandma who might be able to share a skill with a grandchild, why not ask if she might like to learn?
Passing on skills is a gift that lasts.