Ann Keiffer

Aunt Peg Bakes Cookies

There’s a story in my family…

Aunt Peg, a wee wisp of a woman
way up in Michigan’s north woods,
wanted to bake cookies for her kids—
something happy,
a warm sweet treat to greet them
when they came
banging in the door
after school.

So she preheated the oven,
readied ingredients, mixer,
bowl and cookie sheets…
then went to the couch to lie down.

Later, Aunt Peg went back to the kitchen,
creamed into a pale yellow slurry
the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs…
then went to the couch to lie down.

Later, Aunt Peg returned
to her bowl and mixer,
gradually beat in flour,
baking soda and salt,
then stirred in the chocolate chips…
Though she wished to get
the pans in the oven right then,
instead she went to lie down.

Later, Aunt Peg returned to her work,
dropped the dough by the spoonful
onto the cookie sheets and slid
the pans in the oven to bake…
while the cookies baked, she went
to the couch to lie down.

Aunt Peg was a young mother
with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
when it was still a fatal
diagnosis every time.
She was living her last while,
exhausted, not knowing
how long a while would be.
But some things were worth doing
even if she had to do them
in bits and pieces—
like baking cookies for her kids.

Aunt Peg’s life ended years ago,
but this story of how she
baked cookies for her kids
is for me a recipe for living with
a more benign disease that now
parses my own life into pauses…
and more than that,
a recipe for living with
all of the diminishments
that will inevitably befall us
with circumstance, fate and time.
So I’m passing along her recipe…

Aunt Peg’s Recipe for Living With:

Lay aside all memories
and expectations
about how you do life.

Do only what matters most.

Do what matters most
in whatever modified way you can.

Nobody else gets to say
what matters most.

Sometimes what matters most
in all the world is baking
cookies for your kids.

Ann Keiffer
November, 2022


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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