A Promise Well Kept

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One Candle

Sunday after Sunday Miss Gladys walks slowly up the side aisle with Mack shuffling closely behind her. She exchanges greetings with her Christian brothers and sisters as they leave their pews. She talks to the men up front who have participated in the service as she and Mack make their way to the side entrance. When the health of one or the other keeps them at home, Miss Gladys and Mack watch the service on cable television.

Miss Gladys retired from her factory job several years ago. Now her full-time occupation is keeping a promise. Miss Gladys, who has never married, spends her days taking care of her developmentally-delayed brother Mack. She is keeping the promise she made to her mama and daddy.

The job is wearying and lonely. Mack will only eat three or four things–white beans is one of them. Relatives invite them to holiday gatherings, but Mack doesn’t want to go, so they stay at home. Mary Evelyn has taken a special interest in Gladys and tries to add some cheer to her dreary life.

The Christmas celebration at our house this year was on Friday, December 26. We ate our annual German stöllen breakfast. We opened presents. We smiled at grandchildren antics. At mid-day we spread Christmas tablecloths in the living room and covered them with sweet and savory goodies. The children went down for naps, and we adults watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.” We grazed for the rest of the day and played games late into the night.

December 26 is Miss Gladys’ birthday. Before lunch, Mary Evelyn slipped into the kitchen to put together a blessing for her. She decorated a little cake and added a candle. She and Nate bundled up Clara and Wesley and drove over to see Miss Gladys.

As the young family visited with her, Miss Gladys told them that Christmastime makes her a little blue. “I miss Mama and Daddy,” she said. Even more glad they had left our own celebration for a little while to see Miss Gladys, they lit the candle, sang “Happy Birthday,” and took her picture.

When Mary Evelyn and her family returned to our house, they brought a story that stunned us all. When they finished singing, “Happy Birthday,” Miss Gladys said, “Well, that is the first time in my 84 years that someone has lit a candle for me and sang ‘Happy Birthday.’”

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, 
and to give His life a ransom for many.
Matthew 10:45

Thank you for the example, Miss Gladys.

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