The Elephants

“The Elephants,” Ensign, Dec. 2000, 48

The Elephants

“Grandma, come quick! The elephants are here!” I had no idea what my grandchildren were talking about, so I followed them to the front door. Standing on the front porch were two costumed “elephants”—one short and one tall—who handed gifts to each child and then, without a word, walked quickly into the evening shadows. Amid the smiles and giggles, five-year-old Stephanie said, “Maybe it’s Mrs. Black. She was dressed as an elephant on Halloween.”

As the delighted children began opening their presents, they told me the elephants had been coming often, once bringing a box filled with the makings for banana splits, another time leaving gifts, and still another night delivering Christmas crunch cereal with four half-gallons of milk—each decorated with a picture of an elephant and labeled with the children’s names. Next time there were two notes with the presents: “Please do not follow us” and “Ha! Ha! I am not Mrs. Black!”

Who were the elephants? We wondered, but did not know. Perhaps they came because my daughter’s family had just moved to Twin Falls, Idaho, to be near the cancer center where my son-in-law would be entering the hospital for chemotherapy after the holidays. After many nights, the elephants were still delivering boxes filled with things a family might enjoy. One of the most special gifts was a gray ceramic cookie-jar elephant with blue coveralls and a red hat; the jar was filled with cookies.

After such an outpouring of love, the children decided to hang a big banner outside under the window saying “Thank you, elephants.” Two nights later, when the elephants returned, the children gave them each a small treat. After Christmas we assumed the visits would stop, but they did not. On their next visit the elephants left a special New Year’s Eve party box.

In early February, the children’s father died, leaving behind a young widow and four youngsters, ages one to seven. At the funeral, the bishop finally gave us a clue to the elephants’ identity. “As a bishopric, we had been praying that people in need might move into our ward so that we might exercise charity,” he told me. “When your family moved in, we felt it was an answer to our prayer.” Priesthood brethren were there to help unload the moving truck. From then on, many acts of service were performed.

After the funeral, the elephants continued to visit. We noticed they always wore different sizes and kinds of shoes. Valentines arrived, as well as Easter baskets and birthday gifts. One evening when the elephants appeared, one of the children exclaimed, “The elephant is going to have a baby!” She rushed forward to give her a hug. The hug was returned, but not a word was spoken that would give away the identity of the elephant. For over a year the elephants continued to remember my daughter and her children.

Years have passed and the children are much older now, but the cookie-jar elephant with blue coveralls still sits on the cupboard waiting to be refilled. It serves as a happy reminder of what otherwise might have been only dreary and difficult days. The caring and kindness of all our elephant friends will never be forgotten.

Photo by Linda Galley; other photos © Photodisc