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Archive for December, 2005

BEING A MOTHER

After 21 years of marriage, My wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, "I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you."

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally.

That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie.

"What's wrong, are you well," she asked?

My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. "I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you," I responded.  "Just the two of us."

She thought about it for a moment, and then said, "I would like that very much."

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous.   When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel's.

"I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed," she said, as she got into the car. "They can't wait to hear about our meeting"

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy.

My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady.

After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print.  Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me.  A nostalgic smile was on her lips.

"It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small," she said.

"Then it's time that you relax and let me return the favor," I responded.

During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation, nothing
extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other's  life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, "I'll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you."

I agreed.

"How was your dinner date?" asked my wife when I got home. 

"Very nice.

Much more so than I could have imagined," I answered.  A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack.  It happened so suddenly that I didn't have a chance to do anything for her.

Some time later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined.   An attached note said: "I paid this bill in advance.  I wasn't sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the  other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me.   I love you, son." At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: "I LOVE YOU" and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till "some other time."

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WORD GREATEST HUNTER

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DOILIES

There was once a man and woman who had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything.  They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about it.  For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover. In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife’s bedside. She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box.

When he opened it, he found two crocheted doilies and a stack of money totaling $25,000. He asked her about the contents. “When we were to be married,” she said, “my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doily.”

The little old man was so moved, he had to fight back tears. Only two precious doilies were in the box.  She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst into tears. Then asked where the money came from. “Oh,” she said, “that’s the  money I made from selling the doilies.”

Dear Lord,
I pray for Wisdom to understand my man;
love to forgive him;
and Patience for his moods;
because Lord if I pray for Strength
I’ll beat him to death.
Amen.

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THE SULTAN’S SON

Once upon a time, a Sultan was blessed with the birth of a son after years of hoping.  The boy immediately became the apple of his father’s eye.

Just before his son’s sixth birthday, the Sultan said to him, “Son, I love you very much.  Your birthday is coming soon.  What would you like?”

His son replied, “Daddy, I would like to have my own airplane.”

His father bought him American Airlines.

Just before his son’s seventh birthday, the Sultan said, “Son, you are my pride and joy. Ask what you want for your birthday. Whatever it is, it’s yours.”

His son replied, “Daddy, I would like a boat.”

His father bought him the Princess Cruise Line.

Just before his son’s eight birthday, the Sultan said, “Son, you bring so much happiness into my life. Anything you want, I shall get for you.”  

His son replied, “Daddy, I would like to be able to watch cartoons.”

His father bought him Disney Studios.

Just before his son’s ninth birthday, the Sultan said, “Son, you are my life. Your birthday is coming soon. Ask what you wish. I will get it for you.”

His son, who had grown to love Disney, replied, “Daddy, I would like a Mickey Mouse outfit and a Goofy outfit.”  

His father bought him the Democratic Party and the CBS news.

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COUPLE IN RESTAURANT

This married couple was sitting in a fine restaurant when the wife looks over at a nearby table and sees a man in a drunken stupor. 

The husband asks “I notice you’ve been watching that man for some time now. Do you know him?” 

“Yes” she replies, “He’s my ex-husband, and has been drinking like that since I left him seven years ago.”

“That’s remarkable” the husband replies, “I wouldn’t think anybody could  celebrate that long.”

Services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Forever Green  Mortuary.   
                                                                           

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SENIOR DRIVING & DRIVING

SENIOR DRIVING

As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife’s voice urgently warning him, “Herman, I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on Interstate 77.  Please be careful!” “Heck,”  said Herman, “It’s not just one car.  It’s hundreds of them!”

DRIVING

Two elderly women were out driving in a large car – both could barely see over the dashboard.  As they were cruising along, they came to an intersection.  The stoplight was red, but they just went on through. The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself “I must be losing it.  I could have sworn we just went through a red light.” After a few more minutes, they came to another intersection and the light was red again. Again, they went right through.  The woman in the passenger seat was almost sure that the light had been red but was really concerned that she was losing it.  She was getting nervous.  At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was red and they went on through.  So, she turned to the other woman and said, “Mildred, did you know that we just ran through three red lights in a row?  You could have killed us both!” Mildred turned to her and said, “Oh,  am I driving?”

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CHRISTMAS EVE, 1881

Pa never had such compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.    Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t thnk of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this!  But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was t was not going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell.

We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.

Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood–the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting.

What was he doing? Finally I said something. “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?” You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d
been by, but so what? “Yeah,” I said, “Why?” “I rode by just today,”

Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.”

That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.

Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.

When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. “What’s in the little sack?” I asked. “Shoes. They’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning.

I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split
before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy?

Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?”

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.

She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children–sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said. He turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.” I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.

In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of
these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true.

I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get.

Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug.

They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away. Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, brother Miles. I don’t have to say, “‘May the Lord bless you,’ I know for certain that He will.”

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough.

Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children.  For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

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