The Black Telephone

When I was a young boy, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the Wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box.

I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person.Her name was “Information Please” and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone’s number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor.

Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone!

Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver  in the parlor and held it to my ear.
“Information, please,” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.

A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear. “Information.”

“I hurt my finger…” I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

“Isn’t your mother home?” came the question.

“Nobody’s home but me,” I blubbered. “Are you bleeding?” the voice asked.

“No,”I replied. “I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.”

“Can you open the icebox?” she asked. I said I could.

“Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice..

After that, I called “Information Please” for everything. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park, just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died.

I called, “Information Please,” and told her the sad story.

She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child but I wasn’t consoled.

I asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end  up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?”

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, “Wayne , always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.”

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, “Information Please.”

“Information,” said in the now familiar voice. “How do I spell fix?” I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest . When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston.

I missed my friend very much. “Information Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of  trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall.

As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations
never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about a half-hour or so between planes and I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now.

Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information Please.”

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well. “Information.”

I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying, “Could you please tell me how to spell fix?”

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, “I guess your finger must  have healed by now.”

I laughed, “So it’s really you,” I said. “I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?”

“I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your call meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to hearing from you.”

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

“Please do,” she said. “Just ask for Sally.”

Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, “Information.” I asked for Sally.

“Are you a friend?” she said. “Yes, a very old friend,” I answered.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said. “Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.”

Before I could hang up, she said, “Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne?”

“Yes.” I answered.

Well, Sally left a message for you.

She wrote it down in case you called. “Let me read it to you.”

The note said, “Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He’ll know what I mean.”

The Yellow Shirt

This is how she told it:

The yellow shirt had long sleeves, four extra-large pockets trimmed in black thread and snaps up the front. It was faded from years of wear, but still in decent shape. I found it in 1963 when I was home from college on Christmas break, rummaging through bags of clothes Mom intended to give away..

‘You’re not taking that old thing, are you?’ Mom said when she saw me packing the yellow shirt. ‘I wore that when I was pregnant with your brother in 1954!’

‘It’s just the thing to wear over my clothes during art class, Mom. Thanks!’ I slipped it into my suitcase before she could object. The yellow shirt be came a part of my college wardrobe. I loved it.
After graduation, I wore the shirt the day I moved into my new apartment and on Saturday mornings when I cleaned.

The next year, I married. When I became pregnant, I wore the yellow shirt during big-belly days. I missed Mom and the rest of my family, since we were in Colorado and they were in Illinois . But, that shirt helped. I smiled, remembering that Mother had worn it when she was pregnant, 25 years earlier.

That Christmas, mindful of the warm feelings the shirt had given me, I patched one elbow, wrapped it in holiday paper and sent it to Mom. When Mom wrote to thank me for her ‘real’ gifts, she said the yellow shirt was lovely. She never mentioned it again..

The next year, my husband, daughter and I stopped at Mom and Dad’s to pick up some furniture. Days later, when we uncrated the kitchen table, I noticed something yellow taped to its bottom. The shirt!

And so the pattern was set.

On our next visit home, I secretly placed the shirt under Mom and Dad’s mattress I don’t know how long it took for her to find it, but almost two years passed before I discovered it under the base of our living-room floor lamp. The yellow shirt was just what I needed now while refinishing furniture. The walnut stains added character.

In 1975 my husband and I divorced. With my three children, I prepared to move back to Illinois . As I packed, a deep depression overtook me. I wondered if I could make it on my own. I wondered if I would find a job. I paged through the Bible, looking for comfort. In Ephesians, I read, ‘So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will be standing up.’

I tried to picture myself wearing God’s armor, but all I saw was the stained yellow shirt.. Slowly, it dawned on me.. Wasn’t my mother’s love a piece of God’s armor? My courage was renewed.

Unpacking in our new home, I knew I had to get the shirt back to Mother. The next time I visited her, I tucked it in her bottom dresser drawer

Meanwhile, I found a good job at a radio station. A year later I discovered the yellow shirt hidden in a rag bag in my cleaning closet.

Something new had been added. Embroidered in bright green across the breast pocket were the words ‘I BELONG TO PAT.’

Not to be outdone, I got out my own embroidery materials and added an apostrophe and seven more letters.

Now the shirt proudly proclaimed, ‘I BELONG TO PAT’S MOTHER.’ But I didn’t stop there. I zig-zagged all the frayed seams, then had a friend mail the shirt in a fancy box to Mom from Arlington , VA. We enclosed an official looking letter from ‘The Institute for the Destitute,’ announcing that she was the recipient of an award for good deeds..
I would have given anything to see Mom’s face when she opened the box. But, of course, she never mentioned it..

Two years later, in 1978, I remarried. The day of our wedding, Harold and I put our car in a friend’s garage to avoid practical jokers. After the wedding, while my husband drove us to our honeymoon suite, I reached for a pillow in the car to rest my head. It felt lumpy. I unzipped the case and found, wrapped in wedding paper, the yellow shirt. Inside a pocket was a note: ‘Read John 14:27-29. I love you both, Mother.’

That night I paged through the Bible in a hotel room and found the verses: ‘I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives.. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really love me, you will be very happy for me, for now I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am.. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do, you will believe in me.’

The shirt was Mother’s final gift. She had known for three months that she had terminal Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mother died the following year at age 57.

I was tempted to send the yellow shirt with her to her grave. But I’m glad I didn’t, because it is a vivid reminder of the love-filled game she and I played for 16 years. Besides, my older daughter is in college now, majoring in art. And every art student needs a baggy yellow shirt with big pockets!

The Muslims

They’re not happy in Gaza ..

They’re not happy in Egypt ..

They’re not happy in Libya ..

They’re not happy in Morocco ..

They’re not happy in Iran ..

They’re not happy in Iraq ..

They’re not happy in Yemen …

They’re not happy in Afghanistan …

They’re not happy in Pakistan ..

They’re not happy in Syria ..

They’re not happy in Lebanon ..

SO, WHERE ARE THEY HAPPY?

They’re happy in Australia ..

They’re happy in Canada ..

They’re happy in England ..

They’re happy in France ..

They’re happy in Italy ..

They’re happy in Germany ..

They’re happy in Sweden ..

They’re happy in the USA ..

They’re happy in Norway ..

They’re happy in Holland ..

They’re happy in Denmark ..

Basically, they’re happy in every country that is not Muslim and unhappy in every country that is!

AND WHO DO THEY BLAME?

Not Islam.

Not their leadership.

Not themselves.

THEY BLAME THE COUNTRIES THEY ARE HAPPY IN!

AND THEN- They want to change those countries to be like,

THE COUNTRY THEY CAME FROM WHERE THEY WERE UNHAPPY!

Excuse me, but I can’t help wondering…

How damn dumb can you get?

The Sandpiper by Robert Peterson

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.

(I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.)

“Hello,” she said.

I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.

“I’m building,” she said.

“I see that. What is it?” I asked, not really caring.

“Oh, I don’t know, I just like the feel of sand.”

That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes.

A sandpiper glided by.

“That’s a joy,” the child said.

“It’s a what?”

“It’s a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.”

The bird went gliding down the beach. Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned to walk on. I was depressed, my life seemed completely out of balance.

“What’s your name?” She wouldn’t give up.

“Robert,” I answered. “I’m Robert Peterson.”

“Mine’s Wendy… I’m six.”

“Hi, Wendy.”

She giggled. “You’re funny,” she said.

In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on her musical giggle followed me.

“Come again, Mr. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”

The next few days consisted of a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings,
and an ailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out
of the dishwater. I need a sandpiper, I said to myself, gathering up my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed.

“Hello, Mr. P,” she said. “Do you want to play?”

“What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.

“I don’t know. You say.”

“How about charades?” I asked sarcastically.

The tinkling laughter burst forth again. “I don’t know what that is.”

“Then let’s just walk.”

Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. “Where do you live?” I asked.

“Over there.” She pointed toward a row of summer cottages.

Strange, I thought, in winter.

“Where do you go to school?”

“I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation”

She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things.

When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home.

“Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.”

She seemed unusually pale and out of breath. “Why?” she asked.

I turned to her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?

“Oh,” she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.”

“Yes,” I said, “and yesterday and the day before and — oh, go away!”

“Did it hurt?” she inquired.

“Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself.

“When she died?”

“Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there. Feeling guilty, ashamed, and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.

“Hello,” I said, “I’m Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.”

“Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies.”

“Not at all –! she’s a delightful child.” I said, suddenly realizing that I meant what I had just said.

“Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had leukemia Maybe she didn’t tell you.”

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch my breath.

“She loved this beach, so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly…” Her voice faltered, “She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?”

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope with “MR. P.” printed in bold childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues — a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:

A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy’s mother in my arms. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” I uttered over and over, and we wept together.

The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words — one for each year of her life — that speak to me of harmony, courage, and undemanding love.

A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the color of sand — who taught me the gift of love.

NOTE: This is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson. It happened over 20 years ago and the incident changed his life forever. It serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to take time to enjoy living and life and each other. The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.

Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas can make us lose focus about what is truly important or what is only a momentary setback or crisis.

This week, be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug, and by all means, take a moment… even if it is only ten seconds, to stop and smell the roses.

This comes from someone’s heart, and is read by many and now I share it with you..

May God Bless everyone who receives this! There are NO coincidences!

Everything that happens to us happens for a reason. Never brush aside anyone as insignificant. Who knows what they can teach us?

I wish for you, a sandpiper

I am standing upon the seashore.

I am standing upon the seashore.

A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
“There she goes! “Gone where? Gone from my sight . . . that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
“There she goes!”
there are other eyes watching her coming . . .
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout .. .

“Here she comes!”

A Poor Scottish Farmer

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer.

One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the sound.

There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.

‘I want to repay you,’ said the nobleman. ‘You saved my son’s life.’

‘No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,’ the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel.

‘Is that your son?’ the nobleman asked.

‘Yes,’ the farmer replied proudly.

‘I’ll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.’

And that he did.

Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.

Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia.

What saved his life this time? Penicillin.

The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill .. His son’s name?

Sir Winston Churchill.

 

 

 

Sears – Christmas shopping this year.

I know I needed this reminder, since Sears isn’t always my first choice. It’s amazing when you think of how long the war has lasted and Sears hasn’t withdrawn from their commitment. Could we each buy at least one thing at Sears this year?

What commitment you say?

How does Sears treat its employees who are serving in our military? By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more. Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being on active duty.

Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all employees who are serving.

I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution. I suggest we all shop at Sears at least once this year. Be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there so the company gets the positive reinforcement & feedback it well deserves.