Be kind and compassionate to one another, Ephesians 4:32.My mother-in-law had a simple way to spell love: S-U-G-A-R. Whenever her family came to visit, she always sweetened the occasion with a fresh batch of her confections. Her lemon meringue pie was enough to make my taste buds stand up and cheer. Her chocolate bon bons tap-danced their way right to my heart. Her cathedral window fudge was both eye candy and soul food. But it was her chocolate chip cookies that set the high standard for her kitchen. Their rich, buttery, gooey goodness wrapped every member of the family with Mom’s special kind of love.
Mom moved in with us when she became widowed for the second time. By now she was stepping across the threshold of Alzheimer’s into a twilight zone that would slowly steal her creative culinary capabilities. In those early days, however, she could still make the one thing that mattered most: Her prize-winning chocolate chip cookies. Every week or two the smell of freshly baking chocolate chip cookies would fill the house, followed by a plate full of temptations sitting on the kitchen counter.
After a while, the Alzheimer’s took the baker out of Maxine Baker Sears. She just didn’t have it in her to stir up a batch of sweet goodness. She absentmindedly sat in her chair, chatted with her companion dog, padded around the house with her walker, and nibbled chocolate candies from the store. And then on January 8, 2018, she quietly slipped away to her rest until Jesus comes.
Ten months to the day following Mom’s death, my family and I lost almost everything in the Camp Fire. While we were fortunate enough to escape with our family photos, computers, important papers, a few clothes, our cars, and our lives – we lost absolutely everything else. Our house and everything in it burned to the ground. Our church burned to the ground. One wing of our church’s academy burned to the ground. Large portions of the hospital where my wife worked burned to the ground. Even Mom’s yet-to-be planted granite tombstone lying on the garage floor was destroyed. Our community was wiped out in a few hours and our friends scattered to find new homes across the country.
In the days and weeks that followed, my wife and I found ourselves soul-slammed by our staggering losses. It took everything we had just to put one foot in front of the other one day at a time. We quietly lived in our own thoughts, and often cried. Anxiety and fear was our constant companion as we ventured into an uncertain future. We felt frozen and numb to our very core.
Then one day our cousins, Dave and Kathi, came to visit. In their hands they carried a cellophane bag with neatly stacked cookies – Mom’s endearing chocolate chip cookies! And with it a copy of the recipe, written in Mom’s own handwriting! We eagerly pulled loose the ribbon tied at the top, opened the bag, and each grabbed a cookie. Suddenly all the rich, buttery, gooey goodness came back to us as we once again enjoyed the singular taste of love stirred into every one of Mom’s cookies.
This gesture of kindness will never be forgotten. In its sheer simplicity, Dave and Kathi found a way to share loving kindness in a way that was so deeply personal and comforting. While many shared their love with cash, gift cards, clothes, bedding, kitchen gear, and furniture, it was the taste of cookie love that especially warmed our hearts with something familiar, and something to lift our energies for better days ahead.
Dan Martella writes from Northern California.© 2017 - 2020 When People Are Kind. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.