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Pansy Tramble with her Meals on Wheels lunch from Bill Perry, who added a valentine heart sucker as a present to his clients.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Pansy Tramble with her Meals on Wheels lunch from Bill Perry, who added a valentine heart sucker as a present to his clients.

She’s given, and now she receives
Pansy Tramble, 92, used to deliver Meals on Wheels nearly 30 years ago

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com · 340-2395

The wear and tear of 92 years can rob Pansy Tramble of her short-term memory, but nothing can steal her joy.

Since she was a girl raised by her grandfather — her mother died when Tramble was 4 — the former practical nurse has hidden treasures in her heart that she can summon.

She struggles to recall what she ate for dinner a few days ago, but she can recite memorized Bible verses or Sunday school lessons. She reminisces about a long life she describes as joyful despite an impoverished childhood and a retirement income of $500 per month.

“The Bible says don’t let anybody steal your joy, the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Tramble said. “And the joy of my life: getting to help other people.”

Whether her job was picking cotton, washing clothes, cleaning houses or nursing the sick, she said, she tried to be a blessing to those she served because ultimately the one she served was God.

That’s probably why one of her favorite jobs from her long past was delivering Meals on Wheels for Community Action during the program’s infancy nearly 30 years ago.

Getting to know the clients on her route and hearing their thankful voices call out to her before she reached the doorstep is a memory that makes her smile.

Those memories are more common now that Tramble is on the receiving end of Meals on Wheels.

An arthritic knee and the need to wear hip braces to stand make cooking a strain, she said. A bigger benefit, she said, is the free meals help her stretch her limited income.

“It’s a tremendous benefit,” said Sue Stancil, general services director for Community Action, which oversees the United Way agency.

“Most of them have high medical bills, which takes up a good percentage of their small income coming in,” she said. “Factor in their utilities and a lot of them don’t have enough to make it from paycheck to paycheck. By the time you meet your basic needs there’s almost nothing left.”

Though some Meals clients pay for the service, most of the 385 recipients get the meals free because of community donations. Throughout February, The Daily will accept donations on behalf of Meals and will publish the names of contributors unless they request anonymity.

Tramble’s short-term memory losses are not linked to Alzheimer’s disease, she said, because the memory returns. She couldn’t remember the name of what doctors said caused her memory loss, but she said doctors told her she’s one of two people in Alabama diagnosed with it.

“They’re using me as a Guinea pig right now,” Tramble said. “Trying different medicines from Mayo (Clinic). I can take the liquid stuff, but the pills make me sick.”

Tramble seems only mildly bothered by the memory loss. She’s frustrated for a moment when she loses her train of thought in the middle of a sentence. But with her next breath she’ll tell you how God has blessed her with a long, healthy life — been to a hospital only twice — and ability to live alone for about 30 years.

Of course, she’ll tell you she’s never alone. “People will say, ‘Miss Tramble, do you live there by yourself?’ and I say, ‘No. Me and Jesus live there.’ ”

Meals on Wheels contributions

These are the contributions Meals on Wheels has received through Feb. 9.

To contribute, send donations to Meals on Wheels, c/o The Decatur Daily, P.O. Box 2213, Decatur, AL 35609-2213.

  • Abby and Andra — in memory of Vickie Demastus — $10.

  • Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees, $25.

  • FRA Branch 278, $25.

  • Montie R. Powell, $25.

  • Brenda and Kenneth Richards, $25.

  • Glenda and Glenn Robison, $25.

  • McKendree United Methodist Women, Hartselle, $25.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Noel W. Holmes, $50.

  • Somerville United Methodist Women, $50.

  • Betty and Henry Allen, $50.

  • Peggy and Larry Jones, $50.

  • Jeanne and Bruno Wozny — in memory of Elena Wojack —
    $50.

  • Billy Watterson, $50.

  • Margaret and Alvin Childers — in memory of Dr. Kermit Pitt — $100.

  • Nena Hall Lanier, $100.

  • Susan and Richard Bast, $100.

  • William W. Ballentine, $100.

  • Telette Napps, $100.

  • Johnny R. Atkins, $100.

  • Gail and Jim Hurst, $100.

  • Fran and James Lorance, $100.

  • Linda and Phil McCutcheon, $100.

  • Mary and Howell Puckett —in memory of Dr. Kermit Pitt — $150.

  • Burton E. Marsh, $200.

  • Billie and Kenneth Wood, $200.

  • Billie and Billy Clemons, $300.

  • Johnson Chapel United Methodist Church, Danville, $1,500.

  • Anonymous total, $2,200.

    Total contributions today: $5,910.

    Total contributions to date: $9,335.

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