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WIT & WISDOM - November 27, 1998

~~~~~~~ THOUGHTS:

To do something, however small, to make others happier and better, is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a human being. - Sir John Lubbock CARING QUOTES [1]


By Ruth Peterson

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 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 caring. "Oh I don't know, I just like the feel of the sand." That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. "That's a joy," the child said. "It's what?" I asked, uncaring. "It's a joy! My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy." The bird went glissading 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. "Ruth," I answered. "I'm Ruth Peterson." "Mine's Wendy,. . . and I'm six." "Hi, Wendy." I offered. 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, Mrs. P," she called. "We'll have another happy day."

The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, 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 never-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.

"Hello, Mrs. 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 greet even 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 on 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, and yesterday and the day before that and-oh, go away!"

"Did it hurt?"

"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 Ruth Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was."

"Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in."

"Wendy talked 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 it. "Where is she?"

"Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you." Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.

"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, anything, to say to this lovely young woman.

She handed me a smeared envelope, with MRS. P printed in bold, childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues - a yellow beach, a blue sea, 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 how to love opened wide. I took Wendy's mother in my arms. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," I muttered 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 inner harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand - who taught me the gift of love. [2]

~~~~~~~ THIS & THAT:

From a book called, "WISDOM FROM THE WALLS"
by Kristen Kammerer and Bridget Snyder: Part 2 of 2

Chris-Just remember that this dollar is not to be spent until everything between us is over (completely). Please remember I love you! -Tori
On dollar bill F602225237.

It's hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.
Written in the dust on the back of a bus, Wickenburg, AZ

God is dead.
Nietzsche is dead.
The Tombs Restaurant, Washington, D.C.

A word in the mouth is worth two from George Bush. I don't understand. That's okay, Dan.
H.L. Mencken's Cultured Pearl Restaurant and Bar, Baltimore, MD

If voting could really change things, it would be illegal.
Revolution Books, New York, NY

Just 'cause it's clean don't mean it's fresh.
Port O'John, Acadia National Park, ME

If pro is opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress? Congress!
Men's restroom, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. [3]


Here's something to put in front of those e-mails you meant to reply to last month:

We're sorry but this email has been lost in cyber space limbo for the last month or so. It has been around the world 874 times, to the moon 7, and has had 1 trip to the mars explorer. Also between AM 8:47.43 and AM 8:47.45 on 7/02/98 it was missing and presumed deleted, but was eventually found behind some old .txt files. We're sorry for the delay, the appropriate people have been sacked and their houses pillaged.

Have a nice day.
People At Emailserver.net
- Written by Ted Jensen [4]

~~~~~~~ TRIVIA:

The following statements are taken from official documents, newspapers, and magazines widely read during their day. Listen to what the "authorities" had to say:

1840 - "Anyone traveling at the speed of thirty miles per hour would surely suffocate."

1878 - "Electric lights are unworthy of serious attention."

1901 - "No possible combination can be united into a practical machine by which men shall fly."

1926 - (from a scientist) "This foolish idea of shooting at the moon is basically impossible."

- Bill Tucker with Pat Maxwell, Living a Power-filled Life [5]


[1] (Collected and edited by the brothers Val and Bill Halamandaris)
[2] (Shrylene Clark, Harold & YvonneChaffee)
[3] (The Funny! List )
[4] (PCS Computer-Jokes-Mailing-List )
[5] (John R. Edwards)

WITandWISDOM™ Copyright © 1998-2001 by Richard G. Wimer - All Rights Reserved
Any questions, comments or suggestions may be sent to Richard G. Wimer.