Posts Tagged ‘children’

THE OLD FISHERMAN – an inspirational story

June 28, 2011

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out-patients at the clinic.

One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. ‘Why, he’s hardly taller than my eight-year-old,’ I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body.

But the appalling thing was his face, lopsided from swelling, red and raw. Yet, his voice was pleasant as he said, ‘Good evening. I’ve come to see if you’ve a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there’s no bus ’till morning.’

He told me he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success; no one seemed to have a room. ‘I guess it’s my face. I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments…’

For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me, ‘I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning.’ I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. ‘No thank you. I have plenty’ and he held up a brown paper bag.

When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn’t take a long time to see that this old man had an over-sized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury.

He didn’t tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was prefaced with thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He was thankful for the strength to keep going.

At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children’s room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded, and the little man was out on the porch.

He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, ‘Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won’t put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair.’ He paused a moment and then added, ‘Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don’t seem to mind.’ I told him he was welcome to come again.

And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they’d be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4 a.m., and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.

In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden.

Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious.

When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning. ‘Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!’

Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice, but, oh if only they could have known him, perhaps their illness would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude…

Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse. As she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, ‘If this were my plant, I’d put it in the loveliest container I had!’

My friend changed my mind. ‘I ran short of pots,’ she explained, ‘and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting out in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden.’

She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. There’s an especially beautiful one,’ God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. ‘He won’t mind starting in this small body.’

All this happened long ago — and now, in God’s garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand…

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’

Friends are very special. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear and they share a word of praise. Show your friends how much you care.

A boy named Teddy – an inspirational story

January 31, 2011

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth.  Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same.  However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath… In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.   It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big ‘F’ at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last.  However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh.   He does his work neatly and has good manners…he is a joy to be around.

His second grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.’

His third grade teacher wrote, ‘His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest, and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.’

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school.  He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.’

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself.  She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s.  His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.   Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.   Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.  But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.  Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, ‘Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.’

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.  On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic.  Instead, she began to teach children.  Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy.   As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive.  The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her ‘teacher’s pets…’

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy.  He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another  letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in  school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the  highest of honors.  He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came.  This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further.  The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had.  But now his name was a little longer.  The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there.  You see, there was yet another letter that spring.   Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married.  He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.  Of course, Mrs. Thompson did.  And guess what?  She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing.  Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas  together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, ‘Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me.  Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.’

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back.  She said, ‘Teddy, you have it all wrong.  You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference.  I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.’

(For you that don’t know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

Warm someone’s heart today. . . pass this along.  I love this story so very much, I cry every time I read it.  Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today…  Just ‘do it’.

Believe in Angels, then return the favor. Random acts of kindness, I think they call it!

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

JUST A MOM? – an inspirational story

June 9, 2010

A woman, renewing her driver’s license at the County Clerk’s office, was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation.

She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

“What I mean is,” explained the recorder, “do you have a job or are you just a …?”

“Of course I have a job,” snapped the woman.

“I’m a Mom.”

“We don’t list ‘Mom’ as an occupation, ‘housewife’ covers it,” said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like, “Official Interrogator” or “Town Registrar.”

“What is your occupation?” she probed.

What made me say it? I do not know. The words simply popped out. “I’m a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations.”

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and looked up as though she had not heard right.

I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written, in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

“Might I ask,” said the clerk with new interest, “just what you do in your field?”

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, “I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn’t) in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I’m working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family) and already have four credits (all daughters). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.”

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk’s voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants — ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby) in the child development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.

I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than “just another Mom.”

Motherhood!

What a glorious career! Especially when there’s a title on the door.

Does this make grandmothers “Senior Research associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations” and great grandmothers “Executive Senior Research Associates?”

I think so!!!

I also think it makes Aunts “Associate Research Assistants.”

Please send this to another Mom, Grandmother, Aunt, and other friends you know.

May your troubles be less, Your blessing be more,
And nothing but happiness come through your door!

Angels Explained By Children

April 15, 2010

I only know the names of two angels, Hark and Harold. Gregory, age 5

Everybody’s got it all wrong. Angels don’t wear halos anymore. I forget why, but scientists are working on it.   Olive, age 9

It’s not easy to become an angel! First, you die. Then you go to Heaven, and then there’s still the flight training to go through. And then you got to agree to wear those angel clothes. Matthew, age 9

Angels work for God and watch over kids when God has to go do something else. Mitchell, age 7

My guardian angel helps me with math, but he’s not much good for science. Henry, age 8

Angels don’t eat, but they drink milk from Holy Cows!!!

Jack, age 6

Angels talk all the way while they’re flying you up to heaven. The main subject is where you went wrong before you got dead. Daniel, age 9

When an angel gets mad, he takes a deep breath and counts to ten. And when he lets out his breath again, somewhere there’s a tornado. Reagan, age 10

Angels have a lot to do and they keep very busy. If you lose a tooth, an angel comes in through your window and leaves money under your pillow. Then when it gets cold, angels go south for the winter. Sara, age 6

Angels live in cloud houses made by God and his son, who’s a very good carpenter. Jared, age 8

All angels are girls because they gotta wear dresses and boys didn’t go for it. Antonio, age 9

My angel is my grandma who died last year. She got a big head start on helping me while she was still down here on earth.
Ashley, age 9

Some of the angels are in charge of helping heal sick animals and pets. And if they don’t make the animals get better, they help the child get over it.  Vicki, age 8

“After America, There is No Place to Go” by Kitty Werthmann

March 24, 2010

The author of this article lives in South Dakota and is very active in attempting to maintain our freedom. I encourage everybody to read this article and pass it along.  I see so many parallels in this country–are we going to sit by and watch it happen?  Spread the word; also contact your congressional reps; vote them out if they don’t do what they should.  If you don’t want to be bothered, then you’re part of the problem! Google Kitty Werthmann and you will see articles and videos.

Kitty Werthmann

By: Kitty Werthmann

What I am about to tell you is something you’ve probably never heard or will ever read in history books.

I believe that I am an eyewitness to history.  I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history.  We elected him by a landslide – 98% of the vote…  I’ve never read that in any American publications.  Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force.

In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression.  Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed.  We had 25% inflation and 25% bank loan interest rates.

Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily.  Young people were going from house to house begging for food.  Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs.  My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need.  Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people – about 30 daily.

The Communist Party and the National Socialist Party were fighting each other.  Blocks and blocks of cities like Vienna, Linz, and Graz were destroyed.  The people became desperate and petitioned the government to let them decide what kind of government they wanted.

We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933.  We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living.  Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group — Jewish or otherwise.  We were led to believe that everyone was happy.  We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family.  Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back.  Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.

We were overjoyed, and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades.  The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed.

After the election, German officials were appointed, and like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order.  Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed.  The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service.

Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women.  Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home.  An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn’t support his family.  Many women in the teaching profession were elated that they could retain the jobs they previously had been required to give up for marriage.

Hitler Targets Education – Eliminates Religious Instruction for Children:

Our education was nationalized.  I attended a very good public school.  The population was predominantly Catholic, so we had religion in our schools. The day we elected Hitler (March 13, 1938), I walked into my schoolroom to find the crucifix replaced by Hitler’s picture hanging next to a Nazi flag. Our teacher, a very devout woman, stood up and told the class we wouldn’t pray or have religion anymore.  Instead, we sang “Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles,” and had physical education.

Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance.  Parents were not pleased about the sudden change in curriculum.  They were told that if they did not send us, they would receive a stiff letter of warning the first time.  The second time they would be fined the equivalent of $300, and the third time they would be subject to jail.  The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination.  The rest of the day we had sports.  As time went along, we loved it.  Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free.  We would go home and gleefully tell our parents about the wonderful time we had.

My mother was very unhappy.  When the next term started, she took me out of public school and put me in a convent.  I told her she couldn’t do that and she told me that someday when I grew up, I would be grateful.  There was a very good curriculum, but hardly any fun – no sports, and no political indoctrination.  I hated it at first but felt I could tolerate it.  Every once in a while, on holidays, I went home.  I would go back to my old friends and ask what was going on and what they were doing.  Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me.  They lived without religion.  By that time unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler.  It seemed strange to me that our society changed so suddenly.  As time went along, I realized what a great deed my mother did so that I wasn’t exposed to that kind of humanistic philosophy.

Equal Rights Hits Home:

In 1939, the war started and a food bank was established.  All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps.  At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn’t work, you didn’t get a ration card, and if you didn’t have a card, you starved to death. Women who stayed home to raise their families didn’t have any marketable skills and often had to take jobs more suited for men.

Soon after this, the draft was implemented.  It was compulsory for young people, male and female, to give one year to the labor corps.  During the day, the girls worked on the farms, and at night they returned to their barracks for military training just like the boys.  They were trained to be anti-aircraft gunners and participated in the signal corps.  After the labor corps, they were not discharged but were used in the front lines.  When I go back to Austria to visit my family and friends, most of these women are emotional cripples because they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat.  Three months before I turned 18, I was severely injured in an air raid attack.  I nearly had a leg amputated, so I was spared having to go into the labor corps and into military service.

Hitler Restructured the Family Through Daycare:

When the mothers had to go out into the work force, the government immediately established child care centers.  You could take your children ages 4 weeks to school age and leave them there around-the-clock, 7 days a week, under the total care of the government.  The state raised a whole generation of children…  There were no motherly women to take care of the children, just people highly trained in child psychology.  By this time, no one talked about equal rights.  We knew we had been had.

Health Care and Small Business Suffer Under Government Controls:
Before Hitler, we had very good medical care. Many American doctors trained at the University of Vienna.  After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone.  Doctors were salaried by the government.  The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything. When the good doctor arrived at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same time, the hospitals were full.  If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn.  There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine.  Research at the medical schools literally stoppedso the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries.

As for healthcare, our tax rates went up to 80% of our income. Newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan from the government to establish a household.  We had big programs for families.  All day care and education were free.  High schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was subsidized.  Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing, and housing.

We had another agency designed to monitor business.  My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables.  Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners.  Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar.  He couldn’t meet all the demands.  Soon, he went out of business.  If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control. We had consumer protection.  We were told how to shop and what to buy.  Free enterprise was essentially abolished.  We had a planning agency specially designed for farmers.  The agents would go to the farms, count the live-stock, then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to produce it.

“Mercy Killing” Redefined:
In 1944, I was a student teacher in a small village in the Alps.  The villagers were surrounded by mountain passes which, in the winter, were closed off with snow, causing people to be isolated.  So people intermarried and offspring were sometimes retarded.  When I arrived, I was told there were 15 mentally retarded adults, but they were all useful and did good manual work.  I knew one, named Vincent, very well.  He was a janitor of the school.  One day I looked out the window and saw Vincent and others getting into a van.  I asked my superior where they were going.  She said to an institution where the State Health Department would teach them a trade, and to read and write.  The families were required to sign papers with a little clause that they could not visit for 6 months.  They were told visits would interfere with the program and might cause homesickness.

As time passed, letters started to dribble back saying these people died a natural, merciful death.  The villagers were not fooled.  We suspected what was happening.  Those people left in excellent physical health and all died within 6 months.  We called this euthanasia.

The Final Steps – Gun Laws:

Next came gun registration… People were getting injured by guns.  Hitler said that the real way to catch criminals (we still had a few) was by matching serial numbers on guns.  Most citizens were law abiding and dutifully marched to the police station to register their firearms.  Not long after-wards, the police said that it was best for everyone to turn in their guns.  The authorities already knew who had them, so it was futile not to comply voluntarily.

No more freedom of speech. Anyone who said something against the government was taken away.  We knew many people who were arrested, not only Jews, but also priests and ministers who spoke up.

Totalitarianism didn’t come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize full dictatorship in Austria. Had it happened overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath.  Instead, we had creeping gradualism.  Now, our only weapons were broom handles.  The whole idea sounds almost unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our freedom.

After World War II, Russian troops occupied Austria. Women were raped, preteen to elderly.  The press never wrote about this either.  When the Soviets left in 1955, they took everything that they could, dismantling whole factories in the process.  They sawed down whole orchards of fruit, and what they couldn’t destroy, they burned…  We called it The Burned Earth. Most of the population barricaded themselves in their houses.  Women hid in their cellars for 6 weeks as the troops mobilized.  Those who couldn’t, paid the price.  There is a monument in Vienna today, dedicated to those women who were massacred by the Russians.

This is an eye witness account.  It’s true…those of us who sailed past the Statue of Liberty came to a country of unbelievable freedom and opportunity.

America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World.

Don’t Let Our Freedom Slip Away!

“After America, There is No Place to Go”

Please forward this message to other voters who may not have it.

I Owe My Mother (humor)

February 20, 2010

1.  My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE .
“If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.”

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
“You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”

3.  My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
“Because I said so, that’s why.”

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
“If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going to the store with me.”

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
“Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”

7. My mother taught me IRONY.
“Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about…”

8.  My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS .
“Shut your mouth and eat your supper.”

9. My mother taught  me about CONTORTIONISM.
“Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!”

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA
“You’ll sit there until all that spinach is gone.”

11.  My mother taught me about WEATHER.
“This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.”

12. My mother  taught me about HYPOCRISY.
“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate!”

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF  LIFE.
“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out…”

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION .
“Stop acting like your father!”

15. My  mother taught me about ENVY.
“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
“Just wait until we get home.”

17. My mother taught  me about RECEIVING .
“You are going to get it when you get home!”

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
“If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way.”

19. My mother taught me ESP.
“Put your sweater on; don’t you think I know when you are cold?”

20.  My mother taught me HUMOR.
“When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me.”

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT .
“If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.”

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
“You’re just like your father.”

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
“Shut that door behind you.  Do you think you were born in a barn?”

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
“When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”

And my favorite:

25. My mother taught me about JUSTICE.
“One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!”

Swim in Deep Water – by Mitt Romney

January 4, 2010

Swim in Deep Water by Mitt Romney

I don’t remember when it was exactly that I finally went past the sandbar. My family had a summer cottage on the shores of one of the Great Lakes. For the first forty or so feet, the lake is shallow, warm, and protected from big waves by the sandbar. That’s where I spent most of the hot summer days as a boy. I liked it there.

One day, my brother got me up on water skis. Perhaps fearing that a turn would make me fall, he drove the boat, and me, straight out into the deep. By the way, this lake is over 100 miles wide.  I screamed at him the whole terrifying ride. He took me about a half mile out. But ever after, the deep water was where I wanted to be: surfing in the breakers, water skiing, diving. I got out of the shallow water for good. Over the years, I have watched a good number of people live out their lives in the shallows. In the shallows, life is all about yourself, your job, your money, your house, your rights, your needs, your opinions, your ideas, and your comfort.

In the deeper waters, life is about others: family, friends, faith, community, country, caring, commitment. In the deeper waters, there are challenging ideas, opposing opinions, and uncomfortable battles. Almost every dimension of your life can be held to the shallows or taken into the deeper water. Your career, your involvement with others, your spouse and your children, your politics, each can be lived with you comfortably at the center. Or, they can draw you out of yourself, into service and sacrifice, into selflessness.

At some point in your life, a few of you may be presented with the opportunity to step off your career path, to give yourself fully to some kind of service. When I was asked to leave my investment company to run the Olympics in Salt Lake City, I dismissed the idea out of hand. I was making too much money, I didn’t know bupkes about running a sports event. The job would pay me nothing. The organization was in the worst condition of any I had ever seen. And, after the Games were over, the position would lead nowhere. It was a dead end. I took it. It was the highlight of my professional life. I gave more of myself than I ever had before. I came to know and respect remarkable people.

There are currencies more lasting than money. It can be enormously rewarding to take the unobvious course, to jump into the deep water. Bias is shallow thinking and shallow water. Read widely, particularly from people who disagree with you. Argue to learn rather than to win. If you don’t respect, I mean really respect, the views of people who disagree with you, then you don’t understand them yet.

There are smart people on both sides of almost every important issue. Learn from them all. If you have life all figured out in neat little packages, you’re in Neverland, not the real world. And it’s boring there. There’s one more thing I’ve seen in the people who swim in the deep waters of life. They don’t fashion their values and principles to suit their self-interest; they live instead by enduring principles that are fundamental to society and to successful, great lives.

I learned important lessons about those principles from some of the Olympians I saw in Salt Lake City, like bobsledder Vonetta Flowers. Vonetta was brakeman on USA sled two. All the attention, however, was on sled one, the sled that had taken the World Cup and was a lock for the Olympic Gold. But just before the Olympics, the pilot of sled one dropped her partner and invited Vonetta Flowers to join her. Vonetta had a tough decision. On sled one, she’d get a gold medal for sure; the first Olympic gold to be won by an African American in the Olympic Winter Games. Those of us rooting for US medals hoped she would jump to sled one. She didn’t. She decided that friendship and loyalty to her longtime teammate on sled two was more important than winning the gold. Of course, sled one did well. But when sled two beat them all, coming in first, the crowd went nuts. And tears dripped off Vonetta’s cheeks. Friendship and loyalty above gold.

You live one time only. Don’t spend it in safe, shallow water. Launch out into the deep. Give yourself to your family, to your career, to your community. Open your mind to diverging viewpoints. And live, not by what suits the moment, but by the principles that endure for a lifetime.  Jump in, the water’s fine!

THE SIMPLE WHITE ENVELOPE – a Christmas story

December 25, 2009

It’s just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas –oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it, the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma –the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against another team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids, all kids — and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed an envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.  For each Christmas, I followed the tradition — one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.

The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.

Life really boils down to 2 questions…

December 6, 2009

1. Should I get a dog…..?

OR…

2. Should I have children?


Crabby Old Man – an inspirational story

November 6, 2009

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in North Platte, Nebraska, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Missouri. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health.   A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.
Crabby Old Man

What do you see nurses? … What do you see?

What are you thinking . . . . . when you’re looking at me?

A crabby old man . . . . . not very wise,

Uncertain of habit . . . . . . . … with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles his food . . . . . . . . and makes no reply .

When you say in a loud voice . . . . . . . ‘I do wish you’d try!’

Who seems not to notice . . . the things that you do.

And forever is losing . . . . .. . . . . . A sock or shoe?

Who, resisting or not . . . . . . . . . lets you do as you will,

With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill?

Is that what you’re thinking?   Is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, nurse . . . . . you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am.  As I sit here so still,

As I do at your bidding . . . . . . as I eat at your will.

I’m a small child of Ten . .  . . . . with a father and mother,

Brothers and sisters . . . . . . . . . who love one another.

A young boy of Sixteen . . . with wings on his feet

Dreaming that soon now . . . . . . . a lover he’ll meet…

A groom soon at Twenty, my heart gives a leap.

Remembering, the vows . . . . . . that I promised to keep.

At Twenty-Five, now . . . . . . . . I have young of my own.

Who need me to guide . . . . And a secure happy home.

A man of Thirty . . . . . . . . . My young now grown fast,

Bound to each other . . . . . . . With ties that should last.

At Forty, my young sons … have grown and are gone,

But my woman’s beside me . . . . . . . to see I don’t mourn.

At Fifty, once more, babies play ’round my knee,

Again, we know children . . . . . . . My loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me … my wife is now dead.

I look at the future … . . . . . . . . .  shudder with dread…

For my young are all rearing . . . . . . . young of their own.

And I think of the years . . . and the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old man . . . . . . . . . . and nature is cruel.

‘Tis jest to make old age . . . . look like a fool.

The body, it crumbles . . . . . . . grace and vigor, depart.

There is now a stone . . . . . . . where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass . . . a young guy still dwells,

And now and again . . . . . . . . my battered heart swells.

I remember the joys . . . . . . . . . I remember the pain.

And I’m loving and living . . . . . .. . . . . . life over again.

I think of the years, all too few . . . . . . gone too fast.

And accept the stark fact . . . . . . that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, people . . . . . . . . open and see.

Not a crabby old man.   Look closer . . . . see ME!!
Remember this poem when you meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within . . . . we will all, be there one day, too!

PLEASE SHARE THIS POEM

The best and most beautiful things of this world can’t be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart.

God Bless All who read this poem and send it on…


%d bloggers like this: