We are remembering my mother-in-law, Patricia Smith Dougherty, this week. In the van on the way back to Pittsburgh last weekend for the funeral, we told Grandma stories. Here’s mine.
One special thing I wanted for our reception was the lime sherbet and ginger ale punch that had been popular at weddings when I was a little girl. My aunt, who catered our affair, had problems finding the official recipe, and in her frustration called the punch, “Hope’s punch,” all summer long. “What are we going to do about Hope’s punch? I wish we could find the recipe for Hope’s punch. I need help with Hope’s punch.”
When my future in-laws visited for some pre-wedding festivities, Pat heard all about “Hope’s punch.”
Kevin and I visited my in-laws the first time a few months after our wedding and brought our wedding album to show off. As Pat sat at her kitchen table flipping through the pictures, she tapped her finger on one depicting the foamy concoction and sighed, “Oh, Hope’s punch,” and looked at me. “That is such a sweet tradition that you southerners have.”
I stilled for a minute not knowing what was coming next. “What tradition are you talking about, Pat?”
“Oh, you know. The one about the bride getting up early on her wedding day to make her punch, and then you call it the bride’s punch.”
I was shocked. I shook my head. “No, no, Pat. People just called that punch “Hope’s punch” because they didn’t know the recipe.”
She looked at me for one beat, shrugged, and then said, “My story’s better. I’m sticking with it.” I felt scandalized thinking about the lie that would be circulating through Pittsburgh society, but it didn’t matter.
Truth was boring. Fiction was better.
Pat should have been the writer in the family.