Kindnesses Remembered – October Column Cook’s Library with Patsy

Mattie and my brother Jim. They were still in love after many years of marriage. She never really recovered from his passing.

Our family recently lost my sister-in-law Mattie.  Because I was born so late in my parents’ lives, my brothers were married with children before I came along, so Mattie has always been part of my life. She was in the family before I was.

Mattie had a hearty laugh and loved to have a good time. But the last few years were difficult. COPD took its toll and she became less able-bodied with each passing year. Finally, the effort to breathe was just too much.  A ventilator kept her alive long enough for one last visit with her great-grandchildren from Mississippi. Her son was with her as they disconnected the ventilator. She did well for a couple of days, but this was not to be another of her miraculous rallies.

A friend and I drove more than 24 hours to attend the funeral. We were in Kentucky fewer than 24 hours, and came back for events we couldn’t miss, but I was so glad I was able to go.

At the funeral home, Peggy, a family friend, told me about Mattie buying some Christmas gifts from her when she was a teenager working at a department store. An older employee made an issue of something with Mattie’s purchase and Peggy was afraid her burgeoning career was about to come to an untimely end. But Mattie just laughed it off, much to the chagrin of the older woman who was trying to blame Peggy for something that wasn’t her fault.

All these years later – 40? 45? – Peggy remembers that moment. That small kindness – that laugh – was still fresh. It was a reminder to be kind whenever the opportunity arises. And almost every day offers a chance to extend ourselves to our fellow humans.

A gentle word, a sweet gesture, a small note, an unexpected smile, a plate of warm cookies – they can all be a kindness that someone remembers for years. That story reminded me that our lives are full of moments that may not seem big to us but which are monumental to others. What we do and say matters in ways we cannot imagine.

These cookies are always welcome. Unlike most similar cookies, they are not made from ground pecans so they can be enjoyed by everyone. They’re simple and delicious.

Powdered Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsps. vanilla

Cream butter with sugar, then add remaining ingredients and mix. Chill and then roll into balls. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. When almost cooled roll in powdered sugar.