I asked, “Mother, where did you get this Santa?”
She replied, “From the town garbage men.”
And with that response I was transported back 30 plus years.
Until the fall of 1983, my 94 year old grandmother, Fannie Rhea Bachman Summers, had a very healthy life. She was a matriarch of netted hair, a proper dress, and her string of pearls. I can always see her—absorbed in either the Christian Observer, Modern Maturity, or the Bible. (I won’t mention her daily intake of “As the World Turns.”)
Yet in August of 1983 she began a precipitous decline into poor health. While still in acceptable physical health, Granny began to lose her mind.
But the one activity that remained clear and concise were her daily prayers. As a proper daughter and eighth child of a Presbyterian minister, prayer came easily to her—as easy as breathing.
So it was in the last month of her long life, that even in her delirium, she prayed out loud.
As her cognitive decline progressed that fall, the drop in temperature with November elicited this prayer:
“Father, it’s growing cold. Please remember the garbage men who have to work outside in the cold.”
That’s it. Just a quick prayer from a dying woman, about the men in a necessary—but often thankless—job. In her delirium, she remembered Christ’s admonition to love thy neighbor.
So every Christmas since 1983, her daughter (and my mother) recognizes each of the town garbage men with a monetary gift in Granny’s memory. And they in turn recognized her with the simple gift of a bright and happy Santa.