Archive for October, 2010

Red Marbles

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

You may have read the following story before, but today it has special meaning. It was just sent to me by a dear friend of mine, Dennis Woldum who was prepared to offer his kidney to a dying friend. The surgery date was set. However, at the last-minute , the hospital did some additional tests that indicated he would not be a suitable donor. Certainly this was a devastating blow to the woman whose life depends on a transplant and I don’t know what will eventually happen. But even if she does not survive this horrendous challenge, she has known the immense kindness and generosity of someone who cared and who took action on that caring, and perhaps, after all, that is what life is all about . . .

The Red Marble

I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes, when I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

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

Pondering the peas, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy nearby.

‘Hello, Barry, how are you today?’

‘H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas. They sure looks good!’

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

‘Fine, sir. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.’

‘Glad to hear it. Anything I can help you with?’

‘No, sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.’

‘Would you like to take some home?’ asked Mr. Miller.

‘No, sir. Got nuthin’ to pay fer ’em with.’

‘Well, what have you got to trade me for some of those peas?’

‘All I got’s my prize marble here.’

‘Is that right? Let me see it,’ said Miller.

‘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?’ the store owner asked.

‘Not zackley…but almos’.’

‘Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you, and on your next trip this way, let me look at that red marble,’ Mr. Miller told the boy.

‘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, 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, when they come on their next trip to the store.’

I left the store 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 for marbles.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently, I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community, and, while there, learned that Mr. Miller had passed away. The mortuary was holding his visitation 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 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 wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago–the story she had told me about her husband’s bartering for 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 shiny red marbles.

The Moral of the Story: We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Today, let’s create a simple ordinary miracle for someone else…Let’s do something to make their day easier and more fun, call someone who hasn’t heard from you in a long time, let’s give unconditionally to at least one person, let’s all love generously, be kind, be gentle, be understanding. . . Let’s be who we are capable of being. . . today. . . tomorrow may just be too doggone late!

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

Kahlil Gibran

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“There is a Joyful Sadness to Autumn”

M.C. Koblos

There is a joyful sadness to autumn,

joy for the beauty of nature that abounds,

and sadness at the fact that another cycle of life

is about to come to an end.

There is a joyful sadness to autumn,

joy for the clarity of the blue skies,

and sadness for the leaves that,

having fulfilled their function,

wither, die, and fall to the ground.

There is a joyful sadness to autumn,

joy for the migrating flocks in the air

arriving from the north,

to spend the winter in this less hostile place,

and sadness at those leaving for the sunnier climes of the south,

that we shall not see again ’til spring.

There is a joyful sadness to autumn,

joy at having survived yet another season,

and sadness at the thought of the ever-diminishing number

that we have yet to experience.

Yes, there is a joyful sadness to autumn.




Thank you to my cousin Dianne for sharing this beautiful poem

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