87: A Plate of Cookies

87: A Plate of Cookies

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

A Plate of Cookies

Cookies are made of butter and love.

~Norwegian Proverb

It was Christmas Eve and I had just finished putting the last of the glaze and sprinkles on a batch of Christmas cookies. I remembered how my mother and I used to spend the holidays mixing the ingredients, cutting out the shapes and meticulously decorating each one. We would put so much love and time into those cookies every year, and then pass them out to friends and family members. I learned from my mother that we weren’t just making cookies, but gifts of the heart.

This all changed when my mother got Alzheimer’s disease. I still made cookies, but she wasn’t by my side adding her touch.

My mother’s younger brother Wayne also had Alzheimer’s. He had just moved into a new care home and because it was Christmas Eve I went to visit him with a plate of those beloved holiday treats. He seemed happy to see my cousin and me, and we settled ourselves on the couch next to his wheelchair to talk about the day.

“What do you have there?” he asked, pointing to my plate.

“I have Christmas cookies. Would you like one? I know it isn’t Christmas without a plate of my mother’s cookies!”

“Sure,” he said. I took off the plastic wrap and handed him one.

A few minutes later, he looked at me with a few crumbs on his face and said, “What do you have there?” pointing to my plate.

“I have Christmas cookies. Would you like one?”

“Sure,” he said, and ate another cookie.

My uncle had a great twinkle in his eye and when he looked over again, I could see it.

“What do you have there?” he asked.

“Well, Uncle Wayne, I made Mom’s Christmas cookies. Would you like one?”

“Sure,” he said and reached for another.

My cousin and I chatted for a bit longer and within the next twenty minutes, Uncle Wayne asked the same question repeatedly, until there were only a couple of cookies left on the plate. It was getting late, so I kissed him goodbye, leaving him with the cookies and promising to return soon.

But I didn’t get a chance to keep my promise, as he passed away just a few weeks later. I was heartbroken. At his funeral service, my cousin pulled me aside and told me the story of those last remaining cookies. Apparently, Uncle Wayne finished eating all but one of the cookies. He carried that last cookie with him everywhere. Every morning he would gently place the decorated cookie into his brown-plaid flannel shirt pocket and in the evening he would gently slip it out of his pocket and tuck it under his pillow.

What a comfort and a blessing to know the rest of the story. I know that he could feel the love that I mixed into those ingredients that day, and although the disease didn’t allow him to let me know how he felt, his gestures and that twinkle in his eye did.

~W. Bond

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