Sweet Potato Pie

Pandemic aside, the last few months of 2020 have been trying but also eye-opening. After several tests and appointments, we found out my Mom would need her third, and hopefully her last, knee surgery (a total knee reconstruction with tibia replacement). After finding out her tibia was broken, the doctors sent her to UAB Hospital Highlands in Birmingham, Al, about an hour away. I felt relieved that some of the best surgeons in the nation would be doing her surgery. The date was set for October 23, 2020.

Because of Covid-19, and with a little coercion, my niece and I were the only ones able to stay at the hospital with her. When they took her to the holding room, I found myself completely terrified as I sat there quietly trying to come to grips with my sweet Momma’s mortality. Not wanting to face the reality that I could possibly lose her, I put her in God’s hands. Good thing for me so did my family’s. Their prayers, calls, and texts kept me strong. Of course, she made it through due to her incredible faith and her wonderful doctors and nurses. Thankfully, Momma is recovering wonderfully at home.

During the week of Thanksgiving, my son was sent home from work with Covid symptoms. Because he was tested the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we had to wait five days to get his results. He quarantined himself to his room. Still, we needed to get through Thanksgiving dinner which I prepared as my Mom needed to rest. After the time with her in the hospital, praying so hard that she would see this Thanksgiving, I wanted everything to be perfect. That’s where sweet potato pie comes in.

When I remember holidays as a child, no memory is complete without my mom’s incredible sweet potato pie. Everyone blessed to have a slice raved about her pies. Every year my three older sisters and I asked for her recipe but she would never let us in on the magic. A few years ago, she finally shared her secret recipe with my older sisters and this year she entrusted it to me. I was overjoyed and afraid at the same time; afraid that I would mess it up for a good reason.

While walking me through each step, I discovered baking these pies would be a little more difficult than I anticipated. You see, my Mommy never measured anything. Every ingredient was poured, sprinkled, scooped, and dashed until she felt it was enough. In other words, “until her spirit said stop”. Her recipe included two big globs of this, just a dash of that, a teaspoon of this, and a splash of that. So, following in her footsteps, I listened to my spirit as I prepared the filling until it tastes exactly like my Momma’s. The pies turned out amazing!

Being knighted with this family tradition really made me more thankful this Thanksgiving! My heart burst with pride when she tasted my sweet potato pie and loved it! When my brother said it tasted just like Mom’s, I almost cried. It may seem silly that something as simple as sweet potato pie could stir such emotion, but it’s the history in it for me.

This recipe has been passed down from my Great Grandmother Roberts to my Grandma Leathia, to my own Mommy, my sister’s, and then entrusted to myself. One day soon, I will entrust it to my daughter and she to her daughter, MY granddaughter. I’m honored to be a link in the chain of passage for our family’s traditions. Especially this one which began with a cherished childhood memory of my Momma’s sweet potato pie.

PS. My son’s results were negative. All Glory is to God!!

Happy Holidays!


Valerie Collins
Valerie Collins
Valerie Collins was born in Tucson, Az, the last of six children. She has loved writing since a child but decided to pursue a career in Orthopedic nursing. Shortly after her marriage and birth of her first child at the age of 22, she was diagnosed with the chronic pain disease, Fibromyalgia, its subsequent conditions, illnesses, and syndromes. Once the disease disabled her in 2001, she revisited her passion for writing poetry and short stories and has accumulated over 100 poems and spoken word pieces over the years. She became a member of the International Society of poets in 2002 and The International Who's Who in Poetry in 2006. She currently is a member of Realistic Poetry International, Who's Who Among American Business Women, and Women of Facebook Create. Her accolades include 2005 Poet of the Year. She was awarded both the Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry and the Official Commemorative Poetry Ambassador Medal while serving as a Poetry Ambassador associate in 2007. She wrote a play entitled “Fix Me Jesus” in 2012 for Alabama 1st COGIC State AIM Youth Convention Competition drama category which was awarded second place. Currently, she is in rehearsals for her second stage play for the local playwright, Shawna D. Moore which will be on stage in August 2019. She is in the process of compiling a two-volume poetry book entitled My Poetic Life: A Memoir of Love and a book detailing her life with Fibromyalgia, entitled Behind the Walls of Silence. In July 2018, she created her first blog site My Poetic Life (The Book) as @vfurrmstheblogger to act as a launch for both books and it has taken on a life of its own. She also owns a small crochet business, Val's Gifts of Warmth, where she sells her handmade crochet items.

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    • Thank you, Frank. I love our family traditions. I want to carry them throughout every generation to come.