I am a Brownie dropout.
My Brownie troop met in the cafeteria of Villa Marie Elementary in Erie, PA on Saturday mornings. I remember thinking that I would be doing the “cool” activities like my brother did in the Boy Scouts. You can imagine my disappointment (and that of my feminist mother) when our activities involved baking and crocheting unusable oven mitts. So after months of home-ec-ish activities, my mother gave me the option to change our Saturday morning ritual from Brownie meetings to visiting our library. Books beat Brownies.
I never made it to that coveted green uniform with the pageant sash. I never went through the rite of passage of guilting my parents’ friends and coworkers into buying cookies. And I always rolled my eyes a bit in the spring when I walked by Girl Scouts selling cookies.
Eight years ago this month while I was at work, I found out my mother died. My coworkers rallied around me offering me everything they could to comfort me, including one sweet woman who had to write for me because my hands were shaking so much I couldn’t hold a pen. I came up with my immediate plan for the day which was for my best friend to drive me to my mom’s apartment and my boyfriend (now husband) would meet us there.
But we weren’t able to leave for about an hour. I had no idea what I was going to do for an hour. I couldn’t just sit in my cubicle while my loving coworkers looked at me with such sad eyes.
My boss at the time had suffered the tragic and sudden death of his wife less than a year prior to my mom dying. I had watched him stoically deal with his own grief yet I was avoiding him because I didn’t want to hear the adages that spill out of well-intentioned people during times like these. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” “It will get easier with time.” “She isn’t in any pain anymore.”
But my boss asked me into his office and after sitting quietly for a few minutes staring out his window, he asked me if there was anything he could do. I looked around his office and saw boxes of Thin Mints. I asked him if I could have a cookie.
He opened up a sleeve of cookies and I began eating them…the whole sleeve. Maybe he had a few. I’m not sure. I just remember sitting in his office, staring out his window, eating Thin Mints and neither of us saying a word. When it was time for me to leave to go to my mother’s apartment he handed me two boxes of Thin Mints which I gladly accepted and neither of us spoke a word.
Now every spring when we see those girls with their moms selling cookies outside of the grocery store, my husband (who is the last person I know who carries cash) picks up a few boxes of Thin Mints for me. This past weekend we picked up some cookies on the last day of sales.
At some point this month, I will have a sleeve of Thin Mints with a cold glass of milk. I will toast my mother for all of her quirks, flaws and mostly for how much she loved me. And I will toast my former boss for knowing exactly what I needed that day…just some cookies and some quiet.
I am Toni’s daughter. And this is my feed.