I came across this story and thought it had a wonderful ending, and gives hope to all of us who do what we can to be nice, courteous, helpful, and teach our children to do the same. One day, it will be worth it, even if we never know or see the results of our kindness directly--we should never be discouraged, but keep doing the best we can and teaching our children likewise!
One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.
Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look safe; he looked poor and hungry.
He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was those chills which only fear can put in you.
He said, "I'm here to help you, ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson."
Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt.
As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn't thank him enough for coming to her aid.
Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty, who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.
He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, "And think of me."
He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.
A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn't erase. The lady noticed the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered.
After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin.
There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: "You don't owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I'm helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you."
Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.
Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard...
She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, "Everything's going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson."
--Anon, web reprint
Donna's fourth grade classroom looked like many others I had seen in the past. The teacher's desk was in front and faced the students. The bulletin board featured student work. In most respects it appeared to be a typically traditional elementary classroom. Yet something seemed different that day I entered it for the first time.
My job was to make classroom visitations and encourage implementation of a training program that focused on language arts ideas that would empower students to feel good about themselves and take charge of their lives. Donna was one of the volunteer teachers who participated in this project.
I took an empty seat in the back of the room and watched. All the students were working on a task, filling a sheet of notebook paper with thoughts and ideas. The ten-year-old student next to me was filling her page with "I Can'ts". "I can't kick the soccer ball past second base." "I can't do long division with more than three numerals." "I can't get Debbie to like me." Her page was half full and she showed no signs of letting up. She worked on with determination and persistence. I walked down the row glancing at students' papers. Everyone was writing sentences, describing things they couldn't do.
By this time the activity engaged my curiosity, so I decided to check with the teacher to see what was going on but I noticed she too was busy writing. I felt it best not to interrupt. "I can't get John's mother to come for a teacher conference." "I can't get my daughter to put gas in the car." "I can't get Alan to use words instead of fists."
Thwarted in my efforts to determine why students and teacher were dwelling on the negative instead of writing the more positive "I Can" statements, I returned to my seat and continued my observations.
Students wrote for another ten minutes. They were then instructed to fold the papers in half and bring them to the front. They placed their "I Can't" statements into an empty shoe box. Then Donna added hers. She put the lid on the box, tucked it under her arm and headed out the door and down the hall.
Students followed the teacher. I followed the students. Halfway down the hallway Donna entered the custodian's room, rummaged around and came out with a shovel. Shovel in one hand, shoe box in the other, Donna marched the students out to the school to the farthest corner of the playground. There they began to dig. They were going to bury their "I Can'ts"!
The digging took over ten minutes because most of the fourth graders wanted a turn. The box of "I Can'ts" was placed in a position at the bottom of the hole and then quickly covered with dirt. Thirty-one 10 and 11 year-olds stood around the freshly dug grave site. At this point Donna announced, "Boys and girls, please join hands and bow your heads." They quickly formed a circle around the grave, creating a bond with their hands.
They lowered their heads and waited. Donna delivered the eulogy.
"Friends, we gathered here today to honor the memory of 'I Can't.' While he was with us here on earth, he touched the lives or everyone, some more than others. We have provided 'I Can't' with a final resting place and a headstone that contains his epitaph. His is survived by his brothers and sisters, 'I Can', 'I Will', and 'I'm Going to Right Away'. They are not as well known as their famous relative and are certainly not as strong and powerful yet. Perhaps some day, with your help, they will make an even bigger mark on the world. May 'I Can't' rest in peace and may everyone present pick up their lives and move forward in his absence. Amen."
As I listened I realized that these students would never forget this day. Writing "I Can'ts", burying them and hearing the eulogy. That was a major effort on this part of the teacher. And she wasn't done yet.
She turned the students around, marched them back into the classroom and held a wake. They celebrated the passing of "I Can't" with cookies, popcorn and fruit juices. As part of the celebration, Donna cut a large tombstone from butcher paper. She wrote the words "I Can't" at the top and put RIP in the middle. The date was added at the bottom. The paper tombstone hung in Donna's classroom for the remainder of the year.
On those rare occasions when a student forgot and said, "I Can't", Donna simply pointed to the RIP sign. The student then remembered that "I Can't" was dead and chose to rephrase the statement. I wasn't one of Donna's students. She was one of mine. Yet that day I learned an enduring lesson from her as years later, I still envision that fourth grade class laying to rest, "I Can't".
--Phillip B. Childs
I don't know about you, but I have a lot of things that I "wish" I could do for those I love and care about, and have convinced myself that "one day" I will do them, and therefore I don't need to worry about them RIGHT now.
But what can and often ends up happening is...we either never get around to doing those things and really showing how much we care, or we do too little, too late. Other things take priority in our lives until one day we realize we've missed out on the things that really matter--our family, those around us, or a cause that we admire that we could've been a part of.
The other day I came across this story and it brought this point home to me more than ever. It talks about a man and his mother, but it could be related to anyone--even our children. Let's be sure to make the time for the things and people that really matter, lest one day we find out they are gone, and we'll never have that chance again.
Here's the story
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. “Is there something wrong? Are you ill?” 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 a nice idea 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, I drove over to her house to pick her up. As I hadn’t spent nearly as much time with her recently as I would’ve liked or as I should’ve, I felt 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 doorway with her best coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. Her smile beamed 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 nice and cozy little restaurant which we both enjoyed. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu for the both of us. Her well used eyes could only read large print now. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and noticed my dear mother sitting there staring at me, a nostalgic smile playing on her face. “It was I who used to have to read the menu to you 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 engaged in an interesting and long-overdue conversation, 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, and had already begun looking forward to our next dinner out together.
“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered, “I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed her, and I want to do it regularly.”
But that was not meant to be, as 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, “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve, now—not tomorrow or once we’ve cleared our “important” schedules to squeeze them in. Nothing in life is more important than your family and loved ones. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”—Tomorrow may literally be “too late.”
I don't know who wrote this, but someone sent it to me and I thought it was brilliant! I've re-read it many times and it always motivates me to strive to be all I can be!
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.
Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma the daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its insides became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.
The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.
When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.
Live your life so at the end, you're still smiling, even if everyone around you is crying!
May we all be COFFEE!!!!!! !!