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Bits of Paper

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I was sitting in my kitchen the other night, looking through my recipe books, trying to put together a meal planner for the next couple of weeks. I do this periodically when life gets busy.

Tucked into all of my recipe books, are little bits of paper with such things written on them as “Christmas Menu 1992” or “Book Club Dessert 1998.” In one, there is a poem that I wrote for TH when he was a baby. I’d been up very late, enjoying some time to myself, and reading my cookbooks, much like I’d been the other night.

I’ve left the papers there, unconsciously knowing that someday they might mean something to somebody. Proof that I was here, I guess.

The other night, though, I decided to look for some “old time” recipes and came across a recipe book that was unfamiliar to me. The cover read Time Honoured Recipes of the Canadian West from Nabob Foods. As I opened the cover and began looking through it, I discovered a legacy.

Little bits of paper, yellowed and worn, stained over years of good use fell from the pages. Bits of paper written in my Grandma’s distinct script. Labeled with headings like, “Matrimonial Squares—good!” and “Dream Bars—try.” Each one decorated with hand drawn pictures of roses and daisies and ivy. My grandmother’s trademark doodle—the flower.

I sat for a long while thinking about what I had found. Treasure maps connecting me once again to someone I have loved. She had sat, just as I do now. I wondered if she knew how much the things she created from those little bits of paper meant. Her homemade breads, biscuits, and cinnamon buns. The gardens she tended, the flowers she planted and painted, the jokes she told, the dreams she kept. I wonder if she knew, truly, how much they were valued. That she was valued.

I wonder if she ever made those Dream bars, and if they were good.

We are each only here for the blink of an eye. A series of little bits of paper, strung together as moments that connect us to one another, and in turn, to ourselves. And then, one day we come across them, and we think, “Thank you. Your life had meaning. And value. Thank you for the buttons that you sewed, and for the moments that we spent together.”

There are two lessons in this. The first is to love and to value the people in our lives. To recognize the little things and take the time to notice. Don’t wait. Take nothing, and no one for granted. We are each living on borrowed time.

The second is to remember our own worth, and to think of our own little bits of paper, whatever they may be. Because when all is said and done, it won’t be the large gestures that will be remembered. It will be the bits of paper we leave behind, the smile, the kindness, that small gesture, and the love squeezed in between the lines.

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