Archive for the ‘conversation’ Tag

~ Simple Things ~   2 comments

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A happy smile, a quiet conversation, walking in the park holding hands, a simple ride along backroads with no destination in mind, a handwritten letter, a stolen kiss in a crowded room…, simple things, for sure, but what has happened to them?  Have they become so “dated”, or maybe “old fashioned” that they are mundane in the everyday techno world we live in now?

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We talk about communication, but instead of talking to each other, we email, text, tweet.  As for any type of intimate interaction, can you kiss on a smart phone, hold hands?  If we are going anywhere anymore it has to be to someplace, at a planned time, by the route on a GPS or smart phone.

In this complex world of multitasking with smart devices, phones, TV’s, computers, et.al., what has happened to simplicity?  Technology, and the stupendous number of tasks and work of which it is capable, is, in all it’s… complexity, not as beautiful as a blade of grass, a leaf from a tree, or the blossom from a rose. 

Technology has so many wonderful uses, and has made life easier for most of us, but, with all its wonders, it simply can’t replace the beauty of a sunrise…, or sunset, the warmth of a smile, the tenderness of a kiss, the happiness in a child’s laugh, and so many more simple pleasant and beautiful things that are part of the real world we must touch every day.  It’s sad that these simpler things are less appreciated and often ignored for the offerings of a techno world.

 

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Peace   10 comments

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Night comes softly on stealthy feet, quietly brushing away the cares of the day, dissolving them in the tender tranquility of sleep.  The sky is clothed in diamond studded blue-black velvet and adorned by a brilliant crescent, rising slowly from a blackened horizon.  All is stilled but for the soft conversation of the frogs and night birds as they conduct their nightly business.  A muted calm settles over a sleepy world and for a few restive moments there is peace.

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A Southern Belle   8 comments

This is just one part of a much larger story.

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Part One

Growing up in the South

In the deep south, along the gulf coast of Mississippi, Gayle Marie was born, her mother and father’s only child, the treasure of their hearts.  In true southern tradition, Gayle Marie was raised by her mother, but her many daily needs like feeding, diapers, and such were entrusted to the care of a “mammy”.  In this case though, Molly was as much mommy as mammy for she loved this little blue-eyed treasure dearly and watched over her as protectively as a mother bear over a cub and George and Marie couldn’t have been happier about that.  This little darling blossomed under the love and tutelage of her mother, and the care and watchful eye of her mammy, and was completely spoiled at every opportunity by by her doting father.

Unknown to all but George and Marie, Molly had graduated from a northern university with a degree in literature and home ecconomics.  Molly and George had been classmates in his senior year and when he found out that Molly couldn’t find any suitable work, he had offered her the job of managing the business of his household in order to free Marie to continue her volunteer work and to have more time to spend with their daughter.  The job of mammy had been Molly’s idea from the start and both Marie and George were happy to accept her offer.  Molly was eager that her little charge experience the world of books, stories, literature, and poetry, as well as proper care of a house and home.  The upbringing of a proper southern young lady left to Marie.  Thus, to this end, Molly emmersed herself into the culture of a southern lifestyle.  To the world outside of “the farm”, Molly was just seen as “hired help”, but behind this orchastrated facade, she was family.

Life moves slowly in the south.  The baby in the cradle, smiling and cooing, was coddled and wrapped in a cocoon of love by all around her.  All too soon though, she was crawling through the house.  Then came the afternoon, while in her father’s study, she called to him, “Dada”! . and took her first steps alone across the office floor to her astounded and adoring father, who then called her mother and Molly to witness this minor miracle.  Then came the “terrible two’s” which weren’t quite terrible, and gradually, under the tutelage of her mother, and the oversight of her mammy, she matured into the gentility of southern childhood, though sometimes with a bit of attitude.

Gayle, as a child, was cute, always a bit thin, but fearlessly adventurous.  At the age of 5 she was riding horses, swimming, and starting to learn piano, which she loved and was an apt pupil.  There were no close neighbor children near the farm so she was left to entertain herself, except when cousins came to visit.  She never looked forward to that though because they would try to push her around and would call her derogitory names.  No one took it seriously at first.

“Mammy, do I have to go to that dumb party at Cousin Jennie’s house”?  She pouted and stared out the kitchen window at the horses running in the pasture near the stable.  “Yes, darlin’ y’all have to go to that sioree.  It be the proper social behavior for a young lady such as yourself,  ‘sides, y’all know they’ll be ice cream and cake and a lot of games and fun.  Y’all just run up to your room and change to that dress your momma put on y’alls bed now.  Get on little one”!  A bit later she was off and, in due time, delivered at the party.  As Molly had told her, there was plenty of cake and ice cream but after the games had started, less than pleasant things began to happen.  Some of the other children were less than sensitive and began calling her “skinny”, “scarecrow”, “y’all just mud ugly”, and she ran from the house, hurt, angry, and tearful.  When her mother came out to find out what had happened, she refused to go back to the house or the party.  She just wanted to go home.  She sat quietly and stared out the side window on the way home, refusing to answer her mother’s questions about the other children.  Unwanted and unbidden tears formed and rolled down her cheeks.  Arriving back at the farm, she ran from the car up to her room, closely followed by her mother.  “I’m not skinny!  I’m not ugly!”  she sobbed into her pillow.  Marie embraced her and held her close for a few minutes until she became quiet.  “Who dared call you ugly, or skinny”?  Marie, usually calm and serene, seethed with anger.  “Darlin’, you are not ugly, nor are you skinny!  Now please tell me who said these mean, cruel things to you.  I will not tolerate anyone treating you this way”!  “It was Billy, and Jenny, and Lawrence and his sister, momma.  They were awful and worldn’t stop.  I never want to see them again.  I will not go to any of their parties and I don’t want them to come to any of mine.  They’re just very, very bad”!  In spite of her anger, tears came to Marie’s eyes.  She couldn’t bear to see the hurt in her daughter’s eyes.  “Come with me, darlin’.  I want to show you something and then we’ll talk”.  They went downstairs and into the library where Marie took down a large album of family pictures.  Finding what she wanted, she called her daughter to her side on the sofa.  “Sweetheart, this is a picture of your gram when she was your age, and here is a picture of me when I was your age…, and here is your picture”.  “Momma, we all look almost the same”!  “Yes, darlin’, we do, and none of us are skinny, or ugly, and gram grew into a beautiful woman…”  “…and you are too, momma”.  “Well, my dear, looks like those mean children at the party really don’t know what they’re talking about, do they”?   With a smile as big as the room, she looked up and hugged her mother, “I love you momma”.  And as time passed, she only became more and more beautiful, but still lingering in the back of her mind lurked those jeers and names that thoughtless other children had called her.

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This little girl and her mother were nearly inseparable.  They walked together, rode the horses together, sat on the veranda, sipping iced tea and reading their books together, and one of their greatest joys, planted a beautiful garden of flowers together.  They carefully tended it year by year and the garden grew as Gayle grew.  It was a showpiece, admired by all who visited the farm.  She was 12 and now in the 7th grade, becoming very pretty, and entering a time of her life when she had a lot of questions about sensations she was having…, such was the onset of puberty.  Mother tried her best to explain what was happening and what her daughter should expect and what to do when it happened.  She had Molly talk to her young charge too, about the changes that were happening and how to be prepared.  Somehow, even with all of this, Gayle was less than confident about the situation.  Lately mother had become ill and couldn’t tend the garden, leaving it to her daughter’s care.

As her mother’s illness progressed, Gayle spent more and more time with her, helping her with more difficult and tiring chores.  She wasn’t completely aware of how seriously sick her mother really was but just knew that she seemed to be tired most of the time and spent a lot of time reading or drawing in the sunroom or on the veranda, never venturing to the garden they’d shared.  Gayle kept maintaining it though because of memories of all the time she and her mother had shared there among the flowers talking, laughing, and sharing with each other.

Late one evening, after she had gone to bed, she was awakened by the sounds of hushed conversation in the hall and peeked out to see men carrying her mother on a stretcher down the stairway to an ambulance at the front door.  She was frightened and ran to her father in tears.  He explained that Mother was very ill and had to be taken to the hospital and to get dressed and they would follow.  Her father had always been straightforward and open with her no matter how painful it might be and this was to be no exception.  He told Gayle that her mother had a very serious disease, cancer, and that she might not come home from the hospital.  A fearful, broken-hearted little girl buried her head into the cushioned car seat and cried.

It was morning; she had fallen asleep on a hospital sofa.  Molly and her father came to sit next to her.  They told her that her mama wanted to see her and talk to her.  As they entered the room she became frightened at the sight of all of the wires and tubes attached to her mother.  Mama beckoned to her, “Come here darlin’, and don’t be afraid.  I need to talk to you and I want you to listen very carefully”.  Sitting on the edge of the bed, she looked at her mother with tears in her eyes. ” Gayle Marie, you know that I love you more than anything in this world, darlin’.  This is difficult for me to tell you but I must.  The doctors told me this morning that a disease has spread all through all of my body and they can’t do anything to make it go away, dear.  I want you to stay with me for as long as you can because…., I don’t know how to say this darlin’, except to tell you that I may not be with you and Daddy, and Molly much longer, dear.  It hurts for me to tell you this because I know that you will hurt inside when I leave you and I don’t want that to happen, but I know it will.  When I’m gone, Gayle, please share your love with your papa as you have with me, dear.  He will be lonely too and will need you to help him.  Can you do that for me”?  A stunned, confused little girl looked at her mother with tears streaming down her face, “Mama, I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.  I want you to get well and come home.  I need you, Mama”, as she buried her face against her mother’s shoulder.  “I know what you are feeling sweetheart, but I can’t change things and the doctors can’t do anything to help me.  The disease is too bad to be treated and, darlin’ I don’t know how much time I have to be with you anymore.  Please, Gayle, promise me that you will love and help your father…, I need to know this…, please.  Gayle nodded and whispered, “Yes Mama, I promise”, and more tears flowed openly.

The afternoon passed slowly and Marie weakened steadily, the cancer rapidly taking its toll on her.  She had actually been ill far longer than anyone had known and by the time she was taken to the hospital it was in a very advanced state, untreatable and she was already in the final stages of the disease.  George, looking worn and tired, and with a sad, long face came to the waiting area and collected Molly.  Gayle was still with her mother.  “Its time”.  Gayle looked up as they entered the room.  “She’s dying, isn’t she, Daddy”?  He could only nod and whisper, “Yes, darlin’ girl, your Mama’s dying, and she wants us to be with her”.  Gayle made no response except to take her father’s hand as they sat by the side of the bed.  After a while, a gaunt faced Marie called to them and as they gathered at her side she said in a whisper voice, “It’s time to go now.  Goodbye my loves.  I’ll hold you in my heart forever”.  With that said, her eyes closed and she was at peace.  There was a somber silence in the room, broken only by a soft small voice, “Good bye, Mama.  I love you”.

At home, after the funeral, Gayle looked across the lawn to the beautiful garden that she had helped her mother maintain.  It only brought tears, memories, and more tears.  She swore to never go out there again.  Papa, she called him that now, or Pops, was in the study working.  He seemed always to be tired and sad since Mama left them.  She felt that sadness too, but, true to her promise to Mama, tried her best to comfort him and make him happy.  Sometimes it worked, most times not…, and there was no comfort for her own loneliness.

School went on as usual and she became withdrawn from the popular social cliques, choosing not to be part of their scene.  Some of the girls were already dating boys but she had no interest in them, though they pestered her frequently (to no avail).  In the summer before high school Pops had taken her to a local beauty contest and she became interested and asked him if he thought she could do that.  “Well, you’re certainly beautiful enough, darlin’, but you would have to learn some talent like singing, dancing, or playing an instrument or the like”.  She thought about it for a bit…, she knew how to play the piano…, and she loved to sing (wondering if she could sing well enough).  Through the summer she practiced both and by autumn felt that she might have a chance…, if Pops would let her compete in a contest.

Then came high school……

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By Chance   5 comments

(Part fact – part fiction.  Mostly just a story)

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While walking along a moonlit shore one peaceful evening, a young man chanced to meet an unbelievably beautiful young woman.  The air was filled with the scent of jasmine and the saltiness of the incoming tide.  Small waves softly kissed the beach and retreated, leaving the reflection of the moon shimmering in the wet sand.  Was he taken with her beauty?  No…, he was mystified…, entranced.  This was no ordinary girl.  She was the embodiment of everything he had ever thought of as beautiful, his image of an angel on earth, walking beside him…, talking with him.  For her part, she looked at him, admitting to herself that while he wasn’t the most handsome guy she’d ever seen, there was, in his eyes, the look of a dreamer, one who not only dreamed but would make those dreams come true.  He was rugged, and more mature than most she’d met.  When she met his eyes she knew that she would never be satisfied until she could see those dreams, and maybe be part of them.  Initial conversation was pensive, introductions and mostly small talk – where are you from?  where do you live?  what do you do?  Then he asked a question that broke through that barrier.

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“What brought you out here tonight”?

“You did.  I saw you leave the auditorium and decided I wanted to meet you”.

“I’m happy that you did.  I saw you on the stage and I …….”

“…didn’t think I would be approachable”?

“Yeah…, precisely.”

“I’m gonna guess that you’re a shy one, and just so you know, being attractive isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  I’d rather with one guy like you than a hundred of those who are just chasing after a pretty girl.  They’re all hat, with not much under it”.

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This was the beginning.  In the days, weeks, and joy filled months that followed both were to find a bond that became stronger and deeper with every meeting, conversation, and kiss.  This wasn’t a “love at first sight” affair, more like “I want to explore you – get to know everything about you relationship”.  A foundation was being laid for something much larger and more important than either suspected at the moment.  Sometimes when they were together he would look at her, amazed by her beauty, not just her pretty face or her seductive figure, but by the beauty he saw in her eyes, the windows to her heart and soul.  She looked at him, thinking that she had almost passed this chance…, almost!  For her he was an anchor, a foundation, a rock she could hold onto when things were bad, and that partner she most wanted to share with when all was wonderful.

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One thing led to another, and another…, and another.  They worked together, and she was always amazed at how he seemed to know how to do…., everything.  For him, it was such a surprise how she seemed to completely read his thoughts, even to handing him the next right tool to complete a project.  They played together, enjoying fun in the sand and water at the beach, dancing til the early morning hours at the club, and sometimes just walking through the woods and sitting by the stream.  Loved each other would be an understatement…, they completed each other in every way possible.  Friends, amicably, envied the aura of happiness that surrounded them.  They loved, and, in turn, were loved by all around them.

Then one quiet evening, as a culmination of their romance, he stood in front of her father with an aire of serious formality and said:

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“Sir, I’m here tonight to ask your permission to marry your wonderful daughter.  If yes is your answer I promise you will never regret it”.

There was a long pause that made his heart pound hard as he waited for a response…

“No was never a consideration, son.  I’ve watched you…, and her together, and I couldn’t be more pleased.  You have my permission…, and both of you have my blessing”.

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Well, that was the easy part.  Permission granted.  Now all he had to do was figure out how to make it happen…, this wonderful dream that he’d walked into and pulled her, willingly, with him.  It wouldn’t be easy, but somehow, they’d manage it together.  First things first, though.  He had to ask her, had to get a ring…, and she had to say yes.

Days turned into a week…, a second week.  Why should finding a ring be so difficult?  Well, just any ring would be easy, but this had to be the “right” ring, one that would translate his love for her to her finger.

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“What’s the matter, son?   Gettin’ cold feet?  I thought you would have asked her by now”.

“Not cold feet, Pops.  Having trouble finding the right ring…, that I think she deserves and that she’ll like”.

“Well, now…, been there ‘n’ done that when I asked her mother.  Quite a conundrum now, isn’t it?

He opened the wall safe behind the portrait of Marie, his wife, removed a small brown envelope and sat down…, a thoughtful look crossed his wrinkled brow and he was silent for a minute.  Whatever was on his mind was quickly resolved as he looked up and smiled.

“Come on over here, son.  I may have a resolution to your problem, and an answer for myself.  See, I bought this stone to be set in a pendant for her mother, but it all happened so quickly that I never had a chance to …..give it to her.  Now, if you would take this and have a jeweler put it into a setting for you, I’m just sure my daughter would like it, and it would please me to see it on her hand.  What do you think”?

“Pops, that’s just too much…, I couldn’t…”

He placed the stone back in the envelope and sealed it again, putting it firmly in my hand.

“I’m not taking no for an answer.  I’m a hard-headed old S.O.B. and…., and I’d really like for her to have this.  Please, son”.

When I looked up and met his eyes, he was close to tears, and I’d come to love this old rascal.  How could I refuse him.  Stick my pride back in my pocket and get on with it.

“You drive a hard bargain, Pops.  Are you always going to be like this”?

“Damn right”.

“OK then, do you know a jeweller who can help me”?

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Pops had sent me to a jeweller who did custom work and, between the two of us, we came up with a design that pleased both me and him.  The stone was a marquise cut, almost a full carat, and the jeweller had recommended a small sapphire baguette on either side of the diamond.  He sketched it for me  and it looked like…., well it was just damned beautiful…., and I could afford the setting and the baguettes.

Two weeks later the jeweller called to advise me that the ring was ready.  I was dazzled.  It was more beautiful than I’d ever dreamed…, the diamond set in white gold with the sapphire accents was stunning.  I immediately took it to show Pops what we had done and he agreed that it was even more than he’d thought possible – beautiful !

Now came the part where the young man grew really aprehensive.  How do you go about asking an angel to share her life with you?  What kind of words do you use to convince her that the love you have is never going to end?  How do you say what your heart can’t even put into words?  That was a real problem.

The night was at hand.  Clothes had been carefully pressed and laid out on his bunk…, gray slacks, blue shirt and tie, navy blue blazer…, the best that an airman’s pay could afford.  The car had been carefully washed and cleaned.  There was nothing more to do but get dressed and be on his way.  The early evening was beautiful…, a few lazy clouds drifting overhead, ready to create a beautiful sunset and a hint of a breeze to make the evening pleasant.  Lost in his thoughts, he almost missed the turn to the farm.

She met him in front of the house, a vision of beauty, wearing a white linen dress, black hair perfectly coiffed and glistening in the sunlight.  She smiled and her warm blue eyes flashed a welcome as she waited for him to open her door.

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      “Good evening, Princess.  You look so glamorous…, even regal tonight”.

     “Good evening, Prince Charming.  My what an elegantly handsome escort I have this evening”.  Followed by a saucy smile and a giggle.

He’d made reservations at the Edgewater Beach and had pre-ordered their meals, complete with drinks.  After they’d been seated she was curious why no menus had been offered.

     “Tonight’s a special night and I’ve already ordered for us”.

     ” …and what’s special about tonight?  It’s just Friday…, isn’t it”?

He downplayed the issue. 

“Yeah…, it’s just Friday, but I wanted to go somewhere nice for a change.”

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Small talk continued and dinner was served.  She was surprised that he’d known to order everything that she liked, prepared just as she would like it.  After dinner they went down the beach to the Buena Vista Lounge to dance.  He’d taken the trouble to have the player at the piano bar play specially selected music when they arrived and while they danced.  To her, everything seemed so perfect…, so magical tonight…, as though she was living in a dream.

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     “Alright, y’all have to tell me.  What’s going on tonight?  I can’t believe it.  You set everything up this way, didn’t you?   Everything is just happening so wonderfully, like in a dream. “

     “Patience, darlin’ girl.  I just wanted us to have a really nice evening tonight”.

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After a while he led her across the veranda and down to the beach where they watched the setting sun paint the sky in purples, golds, and oranges.  He led her out on one of the fishing piers, one special to both of them as it was where they’d sat and talked on the first night they met.

“Remember this”?  

“I’ll never forget it…, how could I?  This is where I decided I wanted to fall in love with you”.  

They sat on the bench at the end of the pier and were quiet for a while as they watched the last light from the sun as it dropped below the horizon.  As twilight gave way to night and the silvery full moon shimmered across the water the young man stood and turned to face the beautiful girl he loved, dropped to his knees and took her hands.  Now she began to realize what was so special about this night.

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     “My sweet southern belle, I will never love any other the way I love you.  I want our love to go on forever, darlin’.  Will you be my wife, and share your life with me”?

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     “Yankee farm boy…, yes…, I want to share my life with you and be your wife…, just forever and ever.  I love you so very much”.

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There was a wedding, a celebration the likes of which that little southern town had never seen and happiness surrounded them and followed them like a shadow wherever they went.  Their love and generosity was legend in the area for years to come.  The north had, once again invaded the south, and had this time won love…, not war.

Three Red Marbles   10 comments

Three Red Marbles

 By W. E. Petersen

This story first appeared in the October 1975 Ensign Magazine

One day Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

      I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

      Pondering the peas, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and  the ragged boy next to me.

     “Hello Barry, how are you today?”

     “H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas … sure look good.”

      “They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?”

      “Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.”

      “Good. Anything I can help you with?”

      “No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.”

      “Would you like to take some home?”

      “No, Sir. Got nuthin’ to pay for ’em with.”

      “Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?”

      “All I got’s my prize marble here.”

      “Is that right? Let me see it.”

      “Here ’tis. She’s a dandy.”

      “I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort  of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?”       “Not zackley … but almost.”

      “Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble.”

      “Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.”

      Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me.  With a smile she said, “There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one,  perhaps.”

       I left the stand smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering.

      Several years went by, each more rapid that the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.

      Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts … all very professional looking.

      They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband’s casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes  followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

      Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket. “Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim ‘traded’ them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size … they came to pay their debt.”

       “We’ve never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,” she confided, “but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho.”

      With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband.

      Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

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Posted December 21, 2012 by PapaBear in Prose

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Old Friends   Leave a comment

Spoke with an old friend today.  We hadn’t been in touch for 3 years, but that’s how it’s been for a long time now.  Long silent periods, then one or the other will pick up the phone and call.  “Been thinkin’ of you and just had to find out how you are”.  Known each other since we were 10 and were in constant contact with each other for more than 20 years.  By then both were married and had lives to attend to, but, once in a while, on quiet evenings, the phone would ring and a protracted conversation would ensue – catching up on each other’s lives.  In our conversation this afternoon, it was so familiar and comfortable, as though we  had just spoken together yesterday.  Interesting how some people can enter and stay in your life and in your heart like this.  As the conversation ended, I told her, “Just had to know that you’re alright, “Curly-top”, and I love you”.  Her response was, “I’m just just fine now “Sundown”, and I love you too.  Bye now.”  And we’ll both be alright now…, both waiting for the next phone call.  Old friends (of more than 50 years) and still going strong.

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Posted August 16, 2012 by PapaBear in Uncategorized

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