Barry and Rose Cook

 For 13 years, Rose and I delivered Meals-On-Wheels three Sundays a month on Columbus’ near west side. One year, Christmas Eve was on a Sunday, and as we delivered one of our regulars her meal - a wheelchair bound lady named Betty -  she seemed quite distraught. When I inquired what was wrong, she told me she had asked a local church near her to provide Christmas  gifts for her 6 grandchildren (as her daughter was in jail and her son was out of work).

The church had not delivered the gifts, though. It was now noon on Christmas Eve, and her son was bringing the kids over to Betty’s place Christmas morning.

I gave her my phone number and asked her to call me if they failed to show up by 3 pm that day. She called me shortly after 3 and said they still had not shown up with any gifts. I asked her for the kids’ names and ages. Rose and I , along with our girls, headed out to the stores and bought 3 gifts for each of the 6 kids and quickly got home and wrapped them. 

We went to our church's 6 pm Christmas Eve service and afterward headed down to Betty’s little apartment. We arrived around 7:30 and as we went into her place with packages in hand, she began to cry. She had a one-foot, plastic Christmas tree sitting on a card table.  We put the gifts under the table (including 2 for Betty!) and as we left, she hugged each of us as tears streamed down her face. 

Our girls told us it was the best Christmas they ever had.

The following Sunday we were off, so the Sunday after that, as we delivered meals, we saw that Betty was not on the route. We asked at the office and they said she had been taken to the hospital the day after New Year’s. Two weeks later, with Betty still off the route, we noticed someone going into her apartment as we drove by. We stopped in – it was Betty’s niece – she told us that Betty had passed away a few days before.  Although we were saddened by the news, we praised God for using us to make Betty’s last Christmas on earth a joyous one!