Cookie's Wedding Day
Born Patricia Smith on November 9, 1951 - died Patricia Craig on August 26, 2006. Not much said about the 55 years lived in between!
Known to us as Cookie; when Patricia was a baby she was chubby and her family thought she was 'round like a cookie.' They started calling her Cookie, and for the rest of her life she was to be known as Cookie to her family and friends. To me, Cookie was appropriate for a different reason, for the sweetness and surprises she showed everyday of her life.
I didn't know Cookie when she was a little girl. I met her when she was 16. I was 19 and married with a beautiful baby boy. We didn't have much money but were occasionally able to go out for a little while and that's where Cookie came in. She was our babysitter. As you can see there was very little difference in our ages but at first we were worlds apart. I was a married mother and she was a teenage high school student. The thing with Cookie was, no matter your age or station in life, you quickly became her friend which is exactly what happened to us.
Around that time my brother-in-law had just enlisted in the Navy and his girlfriend had broken up with him. I said to Cookie one day, "You know, Larry's brother is very lonely and so heartbroken. It would be nice if he got a letter from home from somebody other than family. Would you write to him?" Cookie said yes right away but it was probably three or four months before she sent her first letter. The funny thing is one letter led to another. When he came home on leave they met face to face and after she graduated from high school they were married.
How lucky can a girl get? My babysitter/friend was marrying my brother-in-law (whom I loved dearly.) Little was I to know there was a whirlwind life waiting for all of us with Cookie. Her personality was, well almost indescribable. You've heard of people who like to have a good time, or people who like to laugh...people who make friends easily and people who care about others, with Cookie, this list just went on and on. You couldn't help but love Cookie. Don't get me wrong, she was far from perfect. There were times you wanted to strangle her for some dumb thing she said or did, but you never could because it was Cookie.
Cookie escorting "Elvis"
Cookie loved to play the Lottery and scratch off tickets. She also saved her tickets. At one point in time, remember this is Cookie, she took all her losing lottery tickets and wallpapered her bathroom with them! The local newspaper came and did a story about her and her "lottery bathroom."
Cookie and I talked on the phone every single day for one to two hours. We told each other everything and shared details of our lives we probably shouldn't have. She called one night saying she was in the hospital and that she had f****** cancer! There are no words to describe the shock and pain I felt at hearing those words. We went right to the hospital and sat with her. She had Hodgkins Disease. This was the beginning of a long battle for Cookie, but not even cancer could get her down. Her stay at Sloan Kettering brought her a plethora of friends. When we would visit she would introduce us to this one or that one. By the time she left that hospital she was good friends with a number of patients and nurses. She kept in touch with her patient friends. Unfortunately over a five year period, Cookie was the only one to survive. She wouldn't let cancer get her down and fought it like a prize fighter, winning the battle where others failed. Her death came twenty years after her battle with Hodgkins. Her doctors told her the treatments she was receiving for her Hodgkins would come back to haunt her in twenty years, which they did.
Back to Cookie's life. Cookie wanted a restaurant or cafe. Fortunately my brother-in-law was very much in love with Cookie and he really took such good care of her and indulged her in many little schemes and such - a little bit like Lucy! Anyway, he was able to indulge her and she purchased a 'Cafe' right here in town. So many family members and friends were able to work for Cookie. Not only did they learn about working and business, but they had the time of their lives. Every day was an adventure, you never knew what Cookie would 'cook' up on the grill and off! Everyone in town loved the Cafe and she did a very good business but it involved a lot of work from three in the morning till eight or nine at night. We didn't know Cookie was starting a downward spiral with her health. Cookie soon tired of the hours and was forced to sell the Cafe after several years, but the memories made there will never die. When Cookie closed the Cafe she threw a huge party for all of her customers. That was so typical of Cookie.
Cookie and I shared many adventures. Anytime the two of us got together to do anything it was an adventure or trouble, depending on how you look at it. We just had a knack. We were a team sort of like the blind leading the blind. We flew to Vegas with our husbands, Cookie's idea. When we stopped at Chicago it was minus thirty two degrees but Cookie wanted to go outside for a cigarette. So outside she and I went. When we got back inside the airport, they were calling our names because our flight was waiting!
When my brother-in-law had open heart surgery he was in the Albany Medical Center. I went to stay overnight with Cookie one night to try to break up her stay and go out to eat with her. When we left the hospital we headed for the 'motel' the hospital had recommended. It looked like a sleazy part of town. When we got inside the desk clerk started arguing that we didn't have reservations or some such nonsense. Within a short time the argument escalated and Cookie said I'm calling the police, after I got her down off the counter. We decided to wait outside until the police arrived. Of course we noticed a few 'women of the night' pass by while we were waiting but thought nothing of it. When the police arrived they looked at us and said they didn't think we were hookers. Cookie explained why we were there and they in turn said, "ladies, get out of here. You are in the worst part of town there is, not just hookers but drug dealers and just plain trouble. Your hotel is usually booked by the hour."
I could write endless stories about Cookie and her escapades alone and her escapades with me, but what I want to remember most is the special person she was. She cared for everyone. She would cook for total strangers, drive people to doctor's appointments, visit the elderly, all without anyone else knowing. It was just something she did. She was a very special person in my life and I always will be.
I spend a lot of time remembering Cookie.
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