Cripplin' Chaos to Kookies
The year was 1973, Pan-Am wings affixed to my little Sailor Dress, with knee-high white boots, Grandma whispered into my ear as the plane began to take off, “chew the gum I gave you really fast, so your ears don’t hurt when the plane goes up.” Wrigley’s Spearmint Freedent was her gum of choice. We landed in Georgia. A portrait of excitement was painted all over my face. I was meeting my great- grand mother for the very first and only time. What a true delight.
Wow! The farm was an amazing experience for this Brooklyn born and raised little girl. In the kitchen, feet mounted up on the stepstool, I stood next to Nana as she showed me how to bake a cake from scratch. With Nana’s very clear directions, I begin milling the grains into fresh flour and beating the butter. “Kyri,” she said, “you see how the butter starts out yellow?” “Yes Ma’am,” I responded. “That’s when you add your sugar and keep whipping it until it turns from yellow to white. Then add the eggs one by one and keep whipping it until it’s nice and fluffy. Then add the flour,” She instructed. “Yes Ma’am.” I said softly.
The year was 2009. I resided in Georgia. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. My life, as I knew it, was drastically changing and there was literally nothing I could do to stop my world from disintegrating before me. I felt like I had been sucker-punched.
Clinging tightly to my two children, Courtney and Jordan, spiraling with each passing day on a merry-go-round of crippling chaos, I was confused, lost and lonely, existing without purpose. Nineteen years of my life, abandoned! Life had its way of turning expectations into painful memories. Yet, the tribulations propelled my decision to seek an opportunity to encourage others.
I set out on the road not taken. I put the heavy baggage down and started fresh…started new. I refused to embrace embitterment as the lot for my life and the course of my future. I decided to focus my energies outside of myself and make other people happy.
Enthusiastic about “getting out of myself,” and spreading agape love, I reached out to a couple of friends who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and solicited numbers of people in their platoons and squadrons. This is when my mission began.
With my Son, then 12 years old, by my side, my whisper grain mill in hand, I began to make homemade KOOKIES. I made a variety of treats…banana, blueberry, pumpkin, cinnamon breads and Kookies. My Son, Jordan worked with me every step of the way. He prepped and packaged the merchandise… a perfect mother and Son assembly line. With great satisfaction, I shipped coolers full of treats to Iraq and Afghanistan. My Son and I routinely embarked on this self-sacrificing mission every month, while my daughter was away attending school at the Culinary Institute of America studying to become a Chef.
Eventually, we transitioned to sending only KOOKIES. We packaged, put them on dry-ice and shipped them to the Soldiers. The gratitude and encouragement communicated in return aided in mending my heart. I felt a renewed spirit and a restored joy.
In 2012, I moved to New Jersey, but was employed at a Community Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. My job duties included working to help meet the needs of patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. I worked with a team of amazing clinicians, and colleagues. I noticed they worked tirelessly without complaint. In my eyes, I felt that their work often went without gratitude, appreciation and thankless.
As a gesture of love, I once again began to bake Kookies and took them to my team as a token of appreciation. Word about my Kookies spread like wildfire. More days than I can count, people would line up outside my office to get Kookies. My Kookies were a showstopper.
“Come on sell them,
stop giving them away.”
“Doc why don’t you sell your Kookies?” “We will buy them.” “Come on sell them, stop giving them away.” People would say. This went on for nearly two years.
Finally, I succumbed to the demands of my Kookie fans, and decided to accept orders. Orders poured in like water from Medical Reps, New Jersey Transit Bus Drivers, and my Co-Workers. I would leave work in Brooklyn, drive two hours home and bake all night to fill the orders. The next day, I returned to work with boxes and baskets of Kookies people ordered. Working all day, driving two hours home and baking all night was demanding, but I found soooo much joy in baking and seeing everyone soooo happy. Life was better because other people were happy because of me.
The years continued to pass, and I meet a remarkable man, Alfred. Alfred resided in Alabama and I in New York, yet distance had no barrier on our chemistry. We entered a courtship, which grew stronger. We were engaged and were excited about our future life together.
May 31, 2019, Alfred, and I returned to Georgia and purchased our new home, one day before my birthday. On June 8, 2019, in our empty new home, we exchanged vows and became husband and wife. This was an unforgettable day and the beginning of a new chapter in my life.
October 8, 2019, exactly four months after my marriage, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ewing Sarcoma. This menacing disease was threatening to destroy my right pelvic wall and lymph nodes. The prognosis was poor. My friend and client, Dr. Ramsey Joudeh was sensitively honest with me. He let me know that I was in for the fight of my life… FOR MY LIFE. Dr. Joudeh not only followed my treatment plan from New York, he sent me daily affirmations to encourage my soul.
God and His infinite wisdom placed me in the hands of an amazing medical team at Emory Sarcoma Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, led by Dr. William Read. This team has been caring for me for 18 months and are currently providing me with continued medical treatment.
Dr. Read advised me of the severity of my diagnosis, and stated if I wanted to fight, he would fight with me. He informed me that my treatment plan was not “normal.” He explained that to eradicate the sarcoma I would have to initially endure intense consistent chemotherapy. The process would involve me being admitted into the hospital for 5-7 days at a time and being infused nonstop 80-120 hours at a time. With God’s angels watching over me, I came through the initial tedious process. Once chemotherapy was completed, I transitioned into Proton Radiation Therapy for 6 consecutive weeks during the height of COVID-19.
During this time, my husband, Alfred “Coley” never left my side. He spent every single night in the hospital with me, never once leaving me alone. He dressed me, fed me, bathed me, aided in my walking, as I lost complete mobility and was unable to walk on my own. I lost approximately 18 inches of my own natural hair. I became completely bald. Upon diagnosis, I cut 14 inches off and donated it to Locs of Love.
During consultation, Dr. Read explained the aggressive treatment plan, would likely cause me to lose my hair. After my first round of treatment, those words held true. I had to mentally adjust to losing all my hair. My husband never let a day go by without telling me how beautiful I was.
Due to my inability to function independently and the need for around the clock care, my husband took a medical leave of absence from his job to care for me. Unfortunately, when he tried to return, they were unable to employ him because of the hardships of COVID-19.
“…fight of my life,
FOR MY LIFE.”
Coley, my husband, my friend, my buttress, you have been exceptional. You have cared for me, taken care of our home from top to bottom. You have been my human cane, as I was determined to walk on my own again. I can’t thank you enough for your untiring dedication and faithfulness. The voices of a million angels can’t express my gratitude to you for not abandoning me during the most difficult time of the “fight of my life, FOR MY LIFE.”
My recovery has progressed remarkably well. On May 22, 2020, I heard the words I have longed to hear. “Ms. Hamilton, you are in REMISSION.” Those words sounded like voices of arch angels singing. I give Glory to God for putting me in the hands of an astounding clinical team that aided in my recovery with profound professionalism. As a gesture of my gratitude, I decided to present a few members of the clinical team with “Thank You” gifts of Kookies. I mailed some and personally delivered some to others. Once again, I hear, “why aren’t you selling these?” My baby sister called me and told me that I really should be baking and selling my Kookies for a living. Confirmation continued to echo from various individuals. My Bestie said to me, “you really should start baking again.” After careful prayer and consideration, I presented the idea to my husband who enthusiastically supported my future endeavor and assured me that I could count on him 100% to help follow my passion and start baking Kookies again.
I immediately contacted my Son and Daughter and told them about my heart’s desire to start baking Kookies again. Sharing in my joy, they both gave me their blessings. My Son, who was in New York following his passion for cooking, returned to Georgia to aid in building our company.
2020 has gone and 2021 has arrived. Lots of meditation, prayer and strategic planning has been put forth as the process to launch my “Kookie” enterprise develops. I continue to fight through my recovery process, yet I am not on the battlefield alone. I am so blessed to have my entire family at my side, helping me do what I absolutely love to do…bake.
Approximately eleven years later, my Son now 23 years old still stands by my side helping me prep, prepare, bake, and package my Kookies. Today, Jordan, 6’6, my homegrown chef, towers over me as I echo my Nana’s directives to me to him. “You see the butter is yellow, whip it until it changes, add brown sugar, continue to whip it until it is fluffy. Then add the eggs, before you add even an ounce of flour. The mixture should look like the flour has already been added…light and airy.” “Yes ma’am, I got you,” he said humbly. We started together in 2009 and we are still on the mother and Son assembly line together. But now we have the help of my hubby and daughter. It’s a family love affair.
“A Hug in EVERY BITE”.
For such a time as this, when physical hugs are so hard to come by amid a pandemic. I offer my Kookies with “A Hug in EVERY BITE”.
Today, a little over a decade from the beginning, I look back and wonder about the power of aspirations. Dreams are powerful! No matter how long it takes, with faith, life finds a way to bring them to fruition. I, with great pride, announce that I am officially set to re-launch my Organic Gourmet Kookie Company, opening our virtual doors on June 1, 2021. Each dozen will be encased in a custom-made wood-branded keepsake box, which symbolizes my continued gratitude to all who support me on this journey.
We will continue to encourage our troops, essential workers, families, and children impacted by sarcoma. We thank you in advance for your patronage.
I apologize for this lengthy story, but this is my story. My triumph and my victory of how Kyri’s Kookies were rebirthed and will forever live.