Thursday, April 16, 2015

Peanut Butter Sandwiches and Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was in grade school, lunch was likely my favorite part of the day. After sitting quietly (or as quietly as I could) throughout the morning, I finally had the opportunity to talk with my friends over our midday meal. While school lunches have changed over the years due to governmental regulations and guidelines, I’m fairly certain that this tradition of relaxation and camaraderie with classmates remains the same.

At High Grove Elementary School in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when I attended, one face remained constant every day during lunch. Mrs. Thompson would be behind the counter, busily preparing trays and offering a warm smile as students passed through her line. I remember I always tried to make a point to say something to her as I walked by: "Mrs. Thompson, the cookies smell delicious today," or "When is the next pizza day, Mrs. Thompson?"

Each time I interacted with her, she would look at me and smile, wipe her hands on her apron, come around to the other side of the counter and embrace me in a big hug. I remember her smelling of peanut butter and flour, likely from all the peanut butter sandwiches that were popular and her famous chocolate chip cookies.

Mrs. Thompson recently passed away, and when I read through her obituary (above), all the warm memories of her smile and grandmotherly manner came rushing back to my mind. I’m sure my young self thought of her as just that: another grandma who enjoys spoiling her kids. She was the beginning of my favorite part of my day growing up, and I have never forgotten her kindness.

It’s hard to believe that after all these years, I have such vivid memories of someone I hardly knew, other than in her work environment. But her love and care for me and the hundreds of kids she served at High Grove with a smile made her someone important to me. We never know the impact we have on others, and sometimes just a smile and a hug are all that is needed to boost someone’s day or lifetime. Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for loving me and all your kids at High Grove. You’ll be missed.

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