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Grandmother’s simple outpouring of love lingers as family’s memory

      Have any of you eaten a pizza at Mom’s house? Well, I have a eating-a-pizza-at-mom’s-house story for you.

      Years ago when my wife Sara and I were first married and lived in Indianapolis, we drove 100 miles south to my hometown of New Albany, Ind. to visit family.

      One evening as dinner drew near, my grandmother - my mother’s mother - offered to buy us all a pizza. Now, my grandmother was on a very tight budget, and so she wasn’t able to splurge. However, she insisted that she, and she alone, would buy the pizza. Thus, she offered to buy one large pizza… for seven adults, which included  my two younger, teen-age brothers.

      My mother quickly became agitated at my grandmother’s offer. Mom knows that purchasing enough pizza for all of us was not in my grandmother’s budget. So my mother offered to purchase two large pizzas as well as an additional small one.

No deal. My grandmother wanted to be the sole purchaser of the meal. My mother and grandmother haggled over this for about ten minutes. Finally, they struck a deal: my grandmother will buy one extra- large pizza.

My grandmother beamed. However, the pizzeria where we’re going to buy the pizza? It does not even offer extra-large pizzas. Mom knew this.

      So someone ventured off to fetch the pizza.

      Minutes later here it comes. The pie was placed on the kitchen table and the box was opened. Everyone looked at the one large pizza and then at one another with knowing smiles. No way was it enough.

      Then my mother made her move. Grabbing the pizza cutter she proceeded to slice the pie into very narrow slices. She placed two miniscule slices on each person’s plate and then announced - dead serious, I kid you not: “See…everyone gets two pieces.”


      Now, let’s suppose my mother had prevailed. Let’s suppose my grandmother had relented in letting my mother buy enough pizzas to actually feed everyone.

      The episode would have been forgotten after eating the pizzas. We wouldn’t have a story that my family likes to tell over and over again.

      And the story is what matters. For the story is a living illustration of Jesus’ command: “Love one another” (John 15:17).

      You see, my grandmother just had to show her love for us. At the time she was quite old. She felt herself a burden on my mother who cared for her. Sara and I lived two hours away, and we rarely saw my grandmother anymore. Here was a chance for her to show how much she loved us while everyone was gathered together. She would feed us.

      Mom knew it wasn’t enough pizza, but she also knew how much it meant to her mother to be the sole purchaser of the pizza. So she relented. And my wife and I and my brothers played along knowing it made my grandmother happy.

      But that out pouring of my grandmother’s love could be seen…only in hindsight. At the time it was complete consternation to my mother and total amusement to the rest of us.

      Jesus tells us to love one another. Howthat love is carried out may - at the time - appear to be something other than love.

      I ate a lot of pizza at mom’s house before she died in 1997.

      This is the one I remember.                           


      Deacon Mark Plaiss teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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