Sam Smith December 2016
As Sam stood there, he wasn’t thinking about the utility of the bowl he held in his hands. He wasn’t considering what it did. He was just comfortable knowing this was one of the things in life for which he was responsible. There wasn’t any water in his room. He just used a cloth to wipe it out after his meal. The cloth would later find its way into the laundry.
Sam was OK with this life. He would say to himself, “Sam Smith, you are not going to be much, but you will be who you are.” His residence, if you could call it that, was in the home of Doreen Chown. She was a retired, North England pub entertainer who had moved to America in the late 1980’s. “An ample old broad,” as she would call herself not infrequently, with flaming red hair, which may or may not have been natural at one time. Doreen kept a clean, orderly house, and Sam enjoyed the peace and quiet.
He shared a bathroom down the hall with the other roomer Fred, and all three of them got along just fine. Sam’s room was simple with a bed, sheets and a comforter. There were two pillows on the bed so Sam could prop himself up to read. The room was completed with a four-drawer chest and one small closet for his boots and shoes. Those would get him through the seasons of Chicago weather, though the chill of winter was some time off. They were enjoying the bright days of spring.
On the wall Sam had hung a just-big-enough cross to remind himself. He didn’t mind leaving his room but he did enjoy coming back to it. You might think, if you looked at his life, that a good nightly rest was one of his only pleasures and in this you would be correct. Living on Social Security, just existing, Sam would never get ahead as society put it. He didn’t worry about that.
When asked about his situation, Sam would always say, “The God Lord provides for me. That’s all I can ask.” With no children of his own, and his only brother living on the West Coast, Sam didn’t have a lot of family responsibilities. That didn’t mean that he didn’t have family; everyone loved Sam. He spent many hours every Sunday morning preparing the coffee for his church brothers and sisters who would come by the thousands, three hours after Sam got there. He sliced the 500 muffins into quarters as the percolators bubbled and steamed and filled the air with the delight of coffee well prepared.
Then one day, he was gone, just gone. The committee went to Doreen’s and she explained that Sam had quietly passed away in his sleep the preceding Monday. A solemn service was held and Sam’s memory quickly passed into eternity except in one place. The angel’s sang with joy and his Good Lord spoke, “Well done, good and faithful servant Sam.”