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October 1982

During my first month of college, I was playing Backgammon against Phil who lived in the room next to mine. While shaking the cup and wishing for double sixes his roommate Don, burst in, very excited. “Tonight, for dinner, Kay’s making butter tarts!”

Phil’s eyes opened wide and a huge grin split his face. “Yes!” He pumped his fist in the air. “I missed those all summer long!”

Phil and Don were in their second year while I was only starting my second month. I still had much to learn about school life. So not understanding the excitement I asked. “What’s a butter tart?”

Don placed a hand on my shoulder and said.”Oh Brad! It’s the most amazing thing you have ever tasted! Everyone loves Kay’s butter tarts! They are the best!”

Kay

Kay

Later that evening I discovered why Don and Phil were so excited. The cafeteria’s pastry chef, Kay, had created her masterpiece for dessert. If happiness and joy could be combine in a pastry and filled with contentment it would taste like Kay’s butter tarts.

As I left the cafeteria that evening I stuck my head in the kitchen and thanked Kay for dessert, letting her know they were the best butter tarts I ever tasted. (Okey, technically, they were the only butter tarts I ever tasted, but since that time I never tasted any better so my statement stands.)

She smiled and said she was happy I enjoyed them.

February 1984

The last semester of my second year was tough. I had a number of difficult courses. Being half a country away from home wasn’t easy. I missed My family, I missed my friends, I missed my car. It was winter. It was February. It was easy to get down. I was slogging through it.

One evening as the lady in the cafeteria was punching my meal ticket, she looked at me and said,”Before you leave tonight stop in the kitchen. Kay has something for you.”

When I saw Kay on the way out she smiled and surprised me with a small tray containing half a dozen of her amazing butter tarts. It wasn’t butter tart dessert night so I had a confused non-comprehending look on my face. “These are special homemade ones” Kay explained. “They are just for you. Don’t tell anyone.” I couldn’t keep the big smile from breaking out on my face and I thanked her with much appreciation. I felt special and floated back to my dorm. I made sure my roomate was out then locked the door to my room and started down that sweet delicious road to diabetes. I devoured them all. Not a crumb was left as I licked the tray.

The next day, back in the cafeteria I thanked her again. Kay said she was happy to see the smile on my face.

November 1984

That summer Kay retired. We were gathered around with some of the newer students discussing the fact that they had enrolled too late to experience the wonders of Kay’s butter tarts. I decided it was time to break my silence and share about the gift she had given that made me feel so special. It was then I learned that Kay did this alot. Feeding us desserts day after day, Kay would get to know us, the students, she knew our names, she learned those of us who were far from home. She had a special sense, an intuition you could say, guidance from above. She knew when one of us were going through a rough time, missing home, lonely or overwelmed. That was when she would do something simple, something special, and make that student’s day a little brighter, make them feel special. A little gift, something she baked. In my case it was half a dozen butter tarts. I am sure she must have made at least a dozen that time, maybe more. I wonder now, who else did Kay’s generosity touch that day? Who else walked away from the evening meal that night feeling special?

February 2014

It makes me smile knowing it wasn’t just me.

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4 thoughts on “Tarts

  1. That’s super sweet. Everyone needs a Kay! And I love butter tarts so much. I assumed they are Canadian — are they a regional thing?

    • I have no idea where they originated, all I know is in the part of Canada where I grew up we had never had them before. For me tarts were those things that popped up out of the toaster, or those girls who wore their skirts too short.

  2. She was such a wonderful lady, sweet and unique. I guess you could say she was as sweet as the tart. She was so famous for. I feel so honoured to have known her and work alongide her as many times I got to be the one who helped serve her tarts to my fellow students. Loved and always remembered Kay Mann.

  3. Blessed beyond measure was a mindset that i left Eastern with.
    What a great cloud of witnesses.

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