The Sandpiper

The Sandpiper
by Mary Sherman Hilbert

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live.
I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world
begins to close in on me. She was building a sand castle or something
and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.

“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.

I wish for you, a sandpiper!

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That time of Year!

I’m proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money. ~Arthur Godfrey

Taxation with representation ain’t so hot either. ~Gerald Barzan

The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to get the most feathers with the least hissing. ~Jean Baptist Colbert

People who complain about taxes can be divided into two classes: men and women. ~Author Unknown

Taxes: Of life’s two certainties, the only one for which you can get an automatic extension. ~Author Unknown

It’s income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta. ~Dave Barry

The more you earn, the less you keep,
And now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to take,
If the tax-collector hasn’t got it before I wake.
~Ogden Nash

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Southern Ten Commandments

Much easier to remember!!!

Ten Commandments

Some people have trouble with all those ‘shall’s’ and ‘shall not’s’ in the Ten Commandments.. Folks just aren’t used to talking in those terms. So, in middle Tennessee they translated the ‘King James’ into ‘ Jackson County ‘ language…..no joke (posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Gainesboro , TN ).

(1) Just one God
(2) Put nothin’ before God
(3) Watch yer mouth
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meetin’
(5) Honor yer Ma & Pa
(6) No killin’
(7) No foolin’ around with another fellow’s gal
(8) Don’t take what ain’t yers
(9) No tellin’ tales or gossipin’
(10) Don’t be hankerin’ for yer buddy’s stuff

Now that’s plain an’ simple. Y’all have a nice day!

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Enthusiasm

“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.”
Benjamin Disraeli

“Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”
Sir Winston Churchill

“Flaming enthusiasm backed by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.”
Dale Carnegie

“In the end, the size of a person’s accomplishment can best be measured by the size of their heart.”
Unknown

and my favorite

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The View

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased room mate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Epilogue:
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.
Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

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A little good news

The song has some dated references (Bryan Gumbel). But I still like it.

A Little Good News
by Anne Murray

I rolled out this morning
Kids had the mornin’ news show on
Bryant Gumbel was talkin’ ’bout the fighting in Lebanon
Some senator was squawkin’ ’bout the bad economy
It’s gonna get worse you see, we need a change in policy

There’s a local paper rolled up in a rubber band
One more sad story’s one more than I can stand
Just once how I’d like to see the headline say
“Not much to print today, can’t find nothin’ bad to say”, because

Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’ed, nobody burned a single buildin’ down
Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today

I’ll come home this evenin’
I’ll bet that the news will be the same
Somebody takes a hostage, somebody steals a plane
How I wanna hear the anchor man talk about a county fair
And how we cleaned up the air, how everybody learned to care
Whoa, tell me

Nobody was assassinated in the whole Third World today
And in the streets of Ireland, all the children had to do was play
And everybody loves everybody in the good old USA
We sure could use a little good news today

Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’ed, nobody burned a single buildin’ down
Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today

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Dogs In Heaven?

An old man and his dog were walking down this dirt road with fences on both sides, they came to a gate in the fence and looked in, it was nice grassy, woody areas, just what a ‘huntin’ dog and man would like, but, it had a sign saying ‘no trespassing’ so they walked on. They came to a beautiful gate with a person in white robes standing there. “Welcome to Heaven” he said. The old man was happy and started in with his dog following him. The gatekeeper stopped him. “Dogs aren’t allowed, I’m sorry but he can’t come with you.”

“What kind of Heaven won’t allow dogs? If he can’t come in, then I will stay out with him. He’s been my faithful companion all his life, I can’t desert him now.”

“Suit yourself, but I have to warn you, the Devil’s on this road and he’ll try to sweet talk you into his area, he’ll promise you anything, but the dog can’t go there either. If you won’t leave the dog, you’ll spend Eternity on this road.”

So the old man and dog went on. They came to a rundown fence with a gap in it, no gate, just a hole. Another old man was inside. “S’cuse me Sir, my dog and I are getting mighty tired, mind if we come in and sit in the shade for awhile?”

“Of course, there’s some cold water under that tree over there. Make yourselves comfortable”

“You’re sure my dog can come in? The man down the road said dogs weren’t allowed anywhere.”

“Would you come in if you had to leave the dog?”

“No sir, that’s why I didn’t go to Heaven, he said the dog couldn’t come in.
We’ll be spending Eternity on this road, and a glass of cold water and some shade would be mighty fine right about now. But, I won’t come in if my buddy here can’t come too, and that’s final.”

The man smiled a big smile and said “Welcome to Heaven.”

“You mean this is Heaven? Dogs ARE allowed? How come that fellow down the road said they weren’t?”

“That was the Devil and he gets all the people who are willing to give up a life long companion for a comfortable place to stay. They soon find out their mistake, but then it’s too late. The dogs come here, the fickle people stay there. GOD wouldn’t allow dogs to be banned from Heaven. After all, HE created them to be man’s companions in life, why would he separate them in death?”

Author Unknown

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Sunshine

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
Louisa May Alcott

A cloudy day or a little sunshine have as great an influence on many constitutions as the most recent blessings or misfortunes.
Joseph Addison

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.
Thomas Jefferson

I have nothing to ask but that you would remove to the other side, that you may not, by intercepting the sunshine, take from me what you cannot give.
Diogenes

and

Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
James M. Barrie

Snow is gone!

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The sky is falling!

Or it’s the end of the world!

O.k. it’s not as bad as that. But, snow in Las Vegas. Big flakes of white stuff falling on my windshield and covering the ground for about two hours this morning.

(Cue chorus of real snow dwellers snickering in the background.)

I hate snow! I hate rain! I was born and raised here for a reason. I was meant to be someplace warm and dry! Not mushy and cold.

Also, never mind not seeing the mountains. I couldn’t even see some of the stoplights this morning. First time I’ve ever actually driven while it was snowing. (Usually snows here once every 5 years at 2 am.) Felt like something was coming at me. Very disconcerting.

Alright the joke is over! Give my weather back and nobody gets hurt!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year recipe

Take twelve fine, full-grown months;
see that these are thoroughly free from
old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate,
cleanse them completely from every clinging spite;
pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness;
in short, see that these months are freed from all
the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first
came from the great storehouse of Time.

Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts.
Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time
(so many persons spoil the entire lot this way)
but prepare one day at a time.

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work
(some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the
rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (leaving this
out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing— don’t do it),
prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution. Put in about
one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly,
a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor. Enjoy!

Anonymous

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