Only nice people can make nice cookies

Hoping, but not heavily, to see something like a Laurel & Hardy, I turn on my TV to find how much further we can descend into inanity. Just now I was rewarded with a peep-view of what the future will be like when when the prefab domicile is at last completely computerized. It is a frightening thing. There will even be a doodad to take care of the children.

This will certainly relieve an ancient doodad that has long done so, which has been known as Mother. And while it promises to be a good thing, it also suggests we consider a fault of computers (treason, treason!), which is that computers lack love. When our children's attendants are bug-eyed robots, we may as well give up.

I do remember and plan not to forget an aunt of mine who taught me forever the meaning of love. I was about 8, and while our household moved from one address to another I was sent, to be out of the way, to stay with this dear aunt.

One morning in the midst of my leisure it chanced I wanted a cookie, and I looked through my aunt's pantry until I found a cookie jar. They were sugar cookies, and I had just discovered that one of them would fit into my hand nicely when a clap of thunder surprised me. It was a fly swatter in the heavy hand of my kindly aunt. And besides my great astonishment, I detected a distinct pain. My aunt said, "Maybe that will teach you not to steal cookies!" That's when I began to realize that my aunt didn't love me.

Being my aunt, she necessarily rated approval, but she was never my favorite. I grew up in a home where cookies were made to be eaten, and taking a cookie was never stealing.

Fact was, as I mull this over in aftertimes, I had but one aunt in the many who made that distinction. When I took a cookie at Aunt Nell's, I remember, she said, "Cookie time, eh? Wait a sec, and I'll fix a glass o' milk to wash it down!" She was full of love, and I loved her. And her cookies were dandies. No wonder I thought only nice people made nice cookies.

Come to think of it, I was right.

I am disturbed by the very suggestion that a computer button will replace a mother's love. The day will come soon, the TV told me, when technology will prepare the meal and "may even serve it." So who, in that dubious day, is going to lay the platter of roast rooster on the Sunday dinner table and say, "Now, there's mince and apple pie, so eat according to and leave room"? Compute that, ye sinners, and envy me my mother's love for 10,000 suppertimes!

I have told before, but I'll still tell again, how very much my mother loved me and how much she taught me as I went by. When I was big enough I had a cow to attend to, adding to my earlier chores with two pigs, a flock of hens, and a pen of ducks. Then I'd go to school. There were unending rural reasons why this took longer some days than other days, and as I walked rather than rode a school bus I was frequently late, and often arrived at school to disturb the routine opening exercises.

I'm sure it was not helpful for me to interrupt the salute to the flag, but it happened, and now and then my mother would get a note from the teacher asking why I was habitually so tardy. Mother did, at first, reply to this and simply asked indulgence as I had my morning chores to do and circumstances sometimes took me a mite longer.

Then came a memorable morning with a two-foot snowfall and gale winds. Having shoveled to get into the cattle tie-up I was trapped by snow that had piled against the door while I was inside. The door swung outward, and I was small and didn't have the strength to push against the snow. I tossed some hay for comfort and reclined to wait for somebody to save me.

It was Mother, finally. She had to clear a path and then dig out my door, and she said, "Are you all right?" The froth on my pail of milk had faded and the cream had started to rise.

It was still snowing hard, and blowing, when I started wading to school. And that afternoon I brought home another note from teacher. This time, she was really indignant. "What can we do about Tardy John?" she minimized. When I gave this note to my mother she read it and said, "Humph!"

That evening after supper, and probably all night, my loving mother dwelt in her mind about my tardiness at school. She decided that my being late was neither her fault nor mine. If the elements chose to impede me, or if a pig pushed and dumped out my pail of slop, it was nothing the teacher wasn't aware of, having been told many times. My mother felt the subject had been covered sufficiently.

I well knew my mother loved me, but I didn't know how much. The next morning nothing happened to make me late, and I was off to school in plenty of time. Mother said to take a clean handkerchief and to straighten my necktie, and it might be well to give a nice red apple to teacher.

So my mother made wonderful cookies and understood the faults of affairs and their causes. She wanted me to be smart, too, and when she gave me her note back to teacher that morning she said, "You can read it; I've solved everything." She certainly had. The note said with finality: "Don't start school until he gets there."

Let alone cookies, no kind of computer will replace a mom's great love.

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