Pepperoni Bread & Love


{Aunt Mary & my Grandpa Duke in 2011}

Pepperoni bread and love are two things that come to mind instantly when I think of my Aunt Mary, my grandfather’s sister.  Last night, Aunt Mary left this world.  It’s a relief to know she had family surrounding her this whole week but it still hurts that I can’t be there.  Times like these make living so far away, SO hard.

This week was also my Mom’s birthday.  My Mom passed away in 1997.  She and Aunt Mary had such a special bond and this week Aunt Mary was asking for her, for Kay.

As a child, I spent a lot of time at Aunt Mary’s house – eating her famous pepperoni bread, floating walnut shells down the creek, rolling down the big, grassy hill on the side of her house, walking along the river down at “the bottom”, playing with cousins, and enjoying the many stories that were always shared there.  My Mom would visit a lot whether it was to just sit and chat with Aunt Mary over coffee or to pick her up to go to a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store.  My brothers and I were with her a lot on those trips and have such special memories of those times.  Later, when my Mom was gone and I was still at home, I got to do some of those things for Aunt Mary.  I remember one trip to the grocery store where a snowstorm broke out on our way home which caused me, a teenager, to drive like 10mph, the entire way home.  Aunt Mary didn’t seem worried at all.  🙂

Aunt Mary always insisted on feeding whoever was at her house.  She would whip up a quick grilled cheese and pepperoni sandwich, make pancakes, slice you up a piece of her fresh, homemade cherry pie, serve you some of her homemade peppermint patties or peanut butter balls, or insist that you eat a BIG plateful of her homemade spaghetti and meatballs with pepperoni bread (of course!).  Her sons and their families can also tell you a thing or two about her brown beans!

I remember her stories of her childhood and how her family would spend the holidays – homemade breadsticks, fish, and how her Dad always put orange peels near the fire to warm them which made the house smell so good.  Listening to her story, I could smell the oranges.  Her father, my great-grandfather, was an immigrant from Italy when he was a young boy. It was important to him to share and pass down some of the traditions he had shared with his family in Italy.

Aunt Mary loved to tell stories of her family and her laughter and smile would light up a room.  She was one of the most caring, giving, and loving people I know.  She is, and will be, so greatly missed.  I am thankful that my daughter, only 2 years old, had the opportunity to meet Aunt Mary even though her memories of that time most likely won’t remain with her.  Just knowing that she was able to be in the presence of such an amazing woman warms my heart.

Aunt Mary will ALWAYS be remembered fondly and I can guarantee that I will be passing stories of her down to my own family.


{Mom and I at Aunt Mary’s. I’m guessing this was around 1986.}


{My brothers and I sitting on Aunt Mary’s table.  This was probably taken in 1983 or 1984.}

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6 Responses to Pepperoni Bread & Love

  1. alison rice says:

    oh Amber, i’m sorry to hear about Aunt Mary. I’m sure she was welcomed at the pearly gate by you mom Kay.
    our prayers and thoughts are with you. Happy Birthday to Kay too.

  2. jo ann says:

    Amber I am so sorry I remember Aunt Mary your mom brought her by on one of her visits to see me I also remember waiting on her at Foodland when I worked there she was a great lady and so was your Mom I loved her so much YOU are such a joy and you have a beautiful baby girl I love you . You are such a blessing

  3. So sorry for your loss. It is so nice to have beautiful memories of a loved one. Your Aunt Mary may be gone, but you have memories and no one can take those from you. Happy Birthday sweet Kay!

  4. pauline pishner says:

    Amber, you did a great job remembering Aunt Mary and your Mom. I am so proud of you. Love to all of u out there.

  5. How about you share her pepperoni bread recipe? Sounds good and a great way to remember her 🙂

  6. Amelia Simpson (Amy Ware) says:

    I missed you so much this week 😦 I agree with your grandma, you wrote a very lovely tribute from your heart about my grandma! Thank you for saying everything I can’t put into words this week. I love you! & I’m very happy that Virgil, Mary & Kay are back together. I pray we all sit under the tree & visit with them in that paradise someday.

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