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Hollyhocks belong to a distant era, but he always nurtured some with knobbled hands and floppy hat. They grew over his doorway, their showy flowers shadowing the striped, green sun-curtain. Every summer he tended his garden. Every winter forever, he delighted the youngest generation as Santa. No false beard required.

Two sunny grandsons played among those hollyhocks until on a Sunday afternoon family stroll one tragically slipped and died.

Santa continued to garden and donned his red suit as seasons merged until one day they majestically shouldered his coffin out through the faded door.

I haven’t seen hollyhocks since.

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