Olivia tugged on Nana’s apron. “Nana, can I help?”
Nana smiled and helped Olivia climb onto a chair. “Why sure, sweetie. You can be my stirrer.” She examined Olivia from head to toe. “Wait, every good cook must have an apron.”
She danced over to the pantry door, slid an apron with big yellow sunflowers off the hook and held it up triumphantly. She placed the too big apron over Olivia’s head, making adjustments. “There you go! Now we’re ready to cook!”
Olivia scrunched up her face in a frown and pulled at the sunflower fabric. “But, Nana, you know I don’t like wearing dresses.”
Nana laughed. “Sweetie, sometimes when we’re cooking, things splatter and you’ll want to protect your pretty outfit.”
Olivia let out a sigh. “Okay, only because you’re wearing one too.”
“Now, where was I? Oh, yes, I remember. I already put in three handfuls of flour, two pinches of baking soda, a sprinkle of salt, a cup of milk and two eggs, now I need a splash of vanilla and we’ll be ready to stir.” She handed Olivia the big wooden spoon.
After the stirring was finished, Nana leaned over and whispered into Olivia’s ear. “Now the most important and final ingredient must be added.”
She paused and looked around conspiratorially. She leaned over, cupped Olivia’s ear again and whispered, “Love.” With that word, she put three fingers up to her lips, kissed them, and then blew in the direction of the bowl.
“Now, if you add your love too, these will be the best cookies Pop-pop has ever eaten.”
So, hesitantly, Olivia lifted her fingers to her lips and mimicked Nana’s kiss to the cookie batter.
“That’s perfect! Now, we’ll bake these and give some to Pop-pop when they’re done.”
As the cookies baked, Olivia peered through the glass window of the oven. Every other minute she would ask, “Are they done yet, Nana?”
“No, Livy, they need a few more minutes.” Nana placed her hands on her shoulders and turned her away from the oven door.
As she helped Olivia pour milk into a glass, it spilled down the front of Olivia’s apron. Nana swiftly untied the wet apron from around Olivia’s neck.
“Whew, Nana that was close! Thanks to that ugly dress, I didn’t get milk all over me.”
The oven timer went off and the cookies were slide off of the baking pan onto a plate.
Olivia slowly carried the still warm cookies into the living room, while Nana held a glass of cold milk. She held the plate out in front of Pop-pop. “Pop-pop, we have something for you.”
He put the newspaper he was reading down onto his lap. “Wow, those look amazing!”
He smiled, while reaching to take the plate from her. With the other hand he snatched a cookie off of the plate and immediately took a bite, chewing slowly while closing his eyes in delight. “Mmmmm, these have got to be the best cookies I’ve ever eaten! Did you help make these, Olivia?”
Nana looked over at Olivia, who was grinning, and winked. “See, I told you, Olivia. It’s because of that important, final ingredient.”
Pop-pop raised his eyebrows. “Oh, and what would that be?"
Nana leaned over and kissed the top of his head. “Why, love, silly! This batch got a double dose, so that’s why they’re the best cookies you’ve ever had.”
Years later at Nana’s funeral, Olivia recounted the story of the cooking lesson.
Standing at the podium in front of family and friends. She bit her lip to keep the tears at bay. “Nana never measured anything. It was always a handful, a pinch, or a splash. She lived life much the same way, never measuring out her attention or her love for family, friends, or God. She always seem to know what we needed, how much we needed, and when we needed it.”
“I want to issue a challenge to you. Live like Nana did. Give a handful of help to those in need; A pinch of prayer to every situation, never starting a day without God’s guidance, never ending a day without giving Him praise. Splash your special brand of love onto those around you. Don’t put a measurement on life. Live it to the fullest.”
“Now, for the final most important ingredient.” She placed three fingers to her lips, kissed them, and blew that kiss in the direction of heaven.
“Love,” She whispered, tears streaming down her face.
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