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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
May 01, 2001

It was June of 1968, and I was fleeing for my life, carrying my two-month-old, baby daughter. My brother had managed to scrape together enough money for a First Class ticket on an airplane traveling from Atlanta to Detroit. My first marriage had become too dangerous, and as I flew home to be with my family, I felt very agitated. Anything, God, I silently prayed. Anything to break the monotony of my own tortured thoughts.

Across the aisle from me was a very handsome and very friendly man. We started talking to each other. I introduced myself and he told me that his friends called him “Chuck.” As we were visiting, I just could not get out of my mind, that I knew this man from somewhere. I certainly knew no one who traveled First Class. The only reason I was in First Class was my brother. It would have been unlikely that we had ever met. He was traveling from Los Angeles. I was traveling from the south and we had no similar points of reference, except Atlanta.

His voice was mesmerizing. It was so familiar. Strong and evenly tempered. Where had I heard that voice? All of a sudden, I knew him! I was sitting across from a very famous man- Charlton Heston! I couldn’t believe it and we were talking like we were old friends! Should I tell him that I recognized him? What could I say?! “I just loved you in The Ten Commandments?!” How stupid would that sound? Tell him that he was the famous Charlton Heston? I don’t think so. I was pretty certain that he knew exactly who he was. I didn’t think that he needed me to inform him. And breaking into his privacy, to ask for an autograph, was simply not going to happen. So, I never said a word.

He was charming and kind. He held my little girl and he played the typical baby games, speaking to her in a warm and coaxing way. She crowed in his face and giggled. I don’t remember what we talked about. Ordinary things. We visited for three and a half hours. I didn’t tell him that I was fleeing for my life from a sour marriage and he never told me that he was a famous movie star.

All too soon our trip was over. The plane landed and we both got our carry-ons. Mine was a diaper bag. His was something more Samsonite. He gathered his things and I picked up my infant daughter. He left the plane to be greeted by the press and cameras. I left to obscurity. We both hugged our families and my last sight of him was to see him smile and nod his head at me, as he began to answer questions from someone holding a microphone. I smiled back and we parted forever.

I didn’t watch the news. I didn’t see the interview. I don’t know the rest of his story. I did tell my parents, who doubted that the man was famous. After all, on the plane we were simply two travelers passing time. Somehow, this event was a pivotal point in my life. I had respected the privacy of a famous man, simply because I could. After eleven months of married hell, he had made me feel, well, normal.

Now, that he has passed-on, I remember a man who gave me my first glimpse into a normal life, one where humor and kindness saved the day. Mr. Heston could have been aloof and superior, but somehow I don’t think that was a part of his character. Often in the tumultuous days of my bitter divorce, I would think of that very famous man, who touched my life with so much grace.

Now, nearly forty years later, it occurs to me, how blessed I am, that I did not invade the privacy of that famous man. He did give me an autograph; he wrote his autograph upon my life. For a few precious hours, he shared himself with me.

Jaye Lewis 
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
April 30, 1990

Eddie Arcaro dreamed of becoming the world’s greatest jockey. But after watching him ride a horse for five minutes, reality reflected a harsh contradiction. He was awkward, clumsy and he couldn’t do one thing right.

He was left behind at the post, he got trapped in traffic jams, he got bumped and boxed in and every other conceivable or inconceivable mishap was his stock-in-trade and appeared to be his destiny. In his first 100 races he never even came close to winning. Still, he got right back on and tried again. He was determined to cross that finish line in first place.

Even as a schoolboy, Eddie had set his own track in life. Because he was only a little over five feet tall and weighed barely 80 pounds, the other students shunned him or picked on him. So he played hookey instead, hanging out at the local race track where a trainer let him gallop the horses.

Eddie’s father reluctantly agreed to let him pursue a career as a jockey, even though he knew it was a very long shot. The trainer had told him so. “Send him back to school,” the trainer said, “He’ll never be a rider. He’s clumsy, accident prone and just plain unlucky. He will never make a place or show, much less a win.”

No one was betting on little Eddie Arcaro, no one that is except little Eddie Arcaro. He was determined not just to ride, but to enter the winner’s circle. Everyone knew or thought they knew, it was just a matter of time, before even Eddie would see the folly of attempting to pursue a jockey career.

He just didn’t have what it takes. But Eddie was determined. He pleaded and persisted until he finally got to ride in a real race. Before it was over, he’d lost his whip and his cap and had almost fallen off the saddle. By the time he finished the race, the other horses were on their way back to the stables. He’d come in dead last.

After that, Arcaro went from track to track, looking for a trainer that hadn’t heard of him. It wasn’t an easy task. Everyone had heard of him. He was the butt joke of the racing circles. Finally, an trainer who felt pity, took him in and gave him his next chance. One hundred trophy-less races later, he was still giving him a chance.

This trainer saw something in this unlucky little jockey. Something he couldn’t define. Something he couldn’t put his finger on, but he could see it. It was there. Perhaps it was potential, perhaps it was resilience, perhaps it was sheer obstinacy, but he wasn’t willing to send Eddie home. He could see the determination and he wanted to watch, to see how this played out.

There were long years when Eddie was broke, homesick, and almost without friends. There were many brushes with death and lots of broken bones. Every time his delicate 63 inch body was trammelled by hoofs, he would get patched up and immediately return to the saddle.

Then it happened. Eddie Arcaro began to win … and win … and win … Now, instead of leaving a path of destruction, he was leaving a path of devastated opponents. In thirty years of riding, he won 4,779 races. By the time he retired in 1962, he had made his trainer and many a owner, a millionaire and in the process, became a millionaire, several times over, himself. He became a legend in his own lifetime.

From the moment he walked onto a track, Eddie Arcaro had his mind on a finish line. Even when it looked impossible and hopeless to everyone else, Eddie knew he was going across that line. And when he finished, he had crossed it close to 5000 times, making him one of the all time greats, with one little bonus…Eddie is the only rider to win the Kentucky Derby five times.

Cynthia Kersey Author of "Unstoppable" http://www.unstoppable.net

"Persistence is Hope With Enthusiasm" 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
April 28, 1999

Hurricane Bertha left me in a bad mood.  I had managed to maintain my sour disposition for several days in spite of the attempts of almost everybody to cheer me up.  I had leaks in my ceiling at the gallery, the floors were flooded, the showcases dirty, there was no air conditioning or electricity, and I had over one hundred artists calling me to see if their work had been damaged.  On top of all that, I had to drive over to Jacksonville in the pouring rain and choking heat, and the air conditioner in my truck had quit working. I was not happy.

As I motored along North Carolina’s Highway 24 to Jacksonville, my faithful truck was trying to tell me something . . something important like . . . YOU FORGOT TO BUY GAS!  For the first time in my life I had run out of gas.  I’d always smirked at the friends and family who’d done this, as if to say, “How could you be so stupid?  There’s a gauge on the dashboard to tell you that your tank is empty, and all you have to do is read it.” I was right: There was a gauge, and it said EMPTY. I was not happy.

I coasted to the side of the road, saying several things about my own mental abilities . . . several things about Hurricane Bertha . . . and vowing to sit there until the darn truck rotted and fell apart.

As I contemplated the possibility of getting a job with the French Foreign Legion, I heard a motorcycle pull up beside me: a big, throaty, rumbling, growling Harley-Davidson.  I opened my door and was face to face with a throwback to the 1960s.

Snakes were painted all over his face shield and helmet and tattooed all over his body.  He wore the traditional Harley-Davidson garb: denim jacket, jeans and biker boots.  Chains hung from every available hook or loop.  His hair was so long that he had it doubled up and tied to keep it out of his wheels.  The Harley was straight out of Easy Rider – extended front fork; suicide rack on the back; black, purple and green paint job, and the gas tank painted to look like a skull with glowing green eyes.

“S’wrong?” he said.  His shield and helmet completely masked his face. “I’m out of gas,” I whispered. “B’right back.”  And he rode off.  About fifteen minutes later he returned with a can of gas.

When I offered to pay him he said, “Wait till ya get to the station.”

I started my truck and drove the two or three miles to the station as he followed along (in the pouring rain). Again I offered to pay him.  He said, “Pay the guy inside.  Everything okay now?”  I said yes.  He said, “See ya!”  And off he rode down Highway 24 toward Jacksonville, hair undone and flying in the wind, Harley roaring and throwing up spray from the pavement.

After pumping twenty-four dollars worth of gas, I went into the station and gave the attendant thirty dollars.  He said, “It’s only four dollars.  The other guy paid twenty and said to tell you to ‘pass it on, Brother.'”

I will always remember the kindness of the snakes-and-chains stranger on the Harley with the glowing green eyes, and I will never again judge by looks or perception -a promise I had often made to myself before God let me see, He truly works in mysterious ways.  And I will always wonder, “Who was that masked man?” ….As for the twenty dollars . . . I pass it on every chance I get.

Robert R. Thomas (c) 1996
Chicken Soup for the Soul www.chickensoup.com  
Image from www.allposters.com 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
April 26, 1998

It started last fall when we had a beaver move in the small stream beside our house. He immediately began taking down small trees  and within a couple of weeks our small stream turned into a small pond. Everyday he added more to his damn and to his house.

We’re sure you’ve all heard the saying, “busy as a beaver”, but we never really appreciated it until we saw the work that this beaver did over a very short period of time.

With the stream now damned and his house built, we thought that would be the last of the beaver’s busy activity as winter set in. But, to our amazement, he started chewing on a very large maple tree. And, we mean large. The tree is over 60 feet tall and is approximately five feet in diameter at the base. We were amazed at the challenge this beaver was attempting.

Over the winter, he would come out and chew a bit more. He had setbacks as we faced major winter storms and freezing weather. We thought that he will never chew through this tree. But sure enough, when the weather allowed, he kept coming back and would chew a bit more.

With spring finally arriving, we went down to see the beaver’s progress and sure enough the tree is going to come down soon!! Our beaver has now almost completely chewed around and through the entire tree.

The beaver’s original goal was survival – to build a home for the winter. Working every day with that particular focus in mind, he achieved that goal. But the large maple tree he started chewing on last fall was a future goal – he wanted the large tree for the spring, to provide new food and branches to continue damning in anticipation of the spring thaw. And, even with the setbacks he faced over the winter, he never gave up.

Our point in sharing our beaver experience with you is to remind you that sometimes we have a goal to just survive, but we also need to set goals for tomorrow. And sometimes, just surviving seems to occupy all of our time – working everyday, looking after our family, going to school and so forth. But, if we do just a little bit when times allows, keep focused on our future goal and not let setbacks discourage us, we will achieve it.

By Byron and Catherine Pulsifer
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
April 20, 2006

It had been a busier than usual week, and trying to cope with a stiff neck had made it worse. By Thursday afternoon I had used up my supply of energy and patience. All I wanted to do was to get home, put on a comfortable robe, fix a bowl of good hot soup and collapse with my feet up.

So when I pulled into the driveway and saw my daughter-in-law Wanda’s car, I groaned in despair. I had forgotten it was Bryan’s night.

Since his parents’ separation, I had tried to have my six-year-old grandson spend a few hours with me at least once a week. I always tried to make it a special time for him. We cooked his favorite meal – chicken and cranberry sauce – or went to his favorite hamburger place. Then either a movie or a walk through the park, and home for some fun together. We’d get down on the floor and have car races. Sometimes we’d make candy, or maybe read some silly or scary book. Bryan delighted in all these activities, and so did I. Usually.

Tonight there was no way I could handle it. I was going to have to postpone our evening together until next week. I hugged them both and then explained how badly I was feeling.

“Bryan, honey, I’m sorry,” I said. “Tonight your Grandma Joan isn’t up to any fun and games. Just a nice hot bowl of soup, a lazy hour of TV and then early to bed. We’ll have our night together some other time.”

Bryan’s smile faded, and I saw the disappointment in his eyes. “Dear Lord, forgive me,” I prayed, “but I’m really not up to it tonight. I need this night to relax and renew myself.”

Bryan was looking up at me solemnly. “I like soup, Grandma.”

My grandmother’s heart knew what he was really saying. In his own way, he was saying, “Please don’t send me away. Please let me stay.”

I heard Wanda say, “No, Bryan. Grandma Joan’s too tired tonight. Maybe next week.”

But in Bryan’s eyes, I saw the shadow, the uncertainty. Something else was changing. Maybe Grandma Joan wouldn’t want to have him come anymore. Not tonight, not next week, not ever.

I hesitated and then tried again. “Just soup and TV, Bryan. No car games on the floor for me tonight, no baking cookies, no books. I probably won’t be awake very long.”

“I like soup,” he repeated.

With a sigh of resignation, I gave in and placed my hand on his shoulder. “Then you are cordially invited to dine at my castle. The meal will be small, but the company will be delightful. Escort the Queen Mother in, please, Sir Bryan.”

It was worth it to see his eyes light up and hear him giggle as he made a mock bow and replied, “Okay, your Royal Highness.”

While I put the soup on the stove and changed into my robe, Bryan set up trays and turned on the television set.

I must have dozed off after the first few sips of soup. When I woke up, there was an afghan over my legs, the bowls and trays were gone. Bryan was sprawled on the floor, dividing his attention between a coloring book and a television show. I looked at my watch. Nine o’clock. Wanda would be coming to get Bryan soon. Poor boy, what a dull time he must have had.

Bryan looked up with a smile. Then, to my surprise, he ran over and gave me a big hug. “I love you, Grandma,” he said, his arms still around my neck. “Haven’t we had a nice time together?”

His big smile and happy eyes told me that this time he meant exactly what he was saying.  And, to my surprise, I knew he was right. We really had had a nice time together.

That was the key word – together. We had done nothing exciting or special. I had slept in the chair. Bryan had colored and watched TV.  But we were together.

That night I realized something important.  Bryan’s visits don’t have to be a marathon of activity. The important thing is that he knows I love him and want him. He knows he has a place in my life, which is reserved particularly for him. A time that is just for us to be together.

Bryan still comes once a week. We still bake chicken or eat out, make cookies or go for a walk in the park. But every now and then we enjoy our favorite together time, our special feast of love – soup night.

By Joan Cinelli 

Vincent Egoro

Photo Credit: flickr.com Photo Credit: flickr.com

Don’t be discouraged in your love and giving if you are not being recognized and honoured by men for your deeds because while men may not appreciate you, God who keeps records will reward you soon. It really isn’t by donating huge sums of money in front of cameras, or holding a press conference to announce your contribution that matters, compared to giving out of love for God and man.

If you have been showing love to people, helping others in need, offering kind words of inspiration and encouragement to others and yet you don’t receive recognition for your gestures, and maybe as a result you are being discouraged, I hope the following story inspires you to do more;

“A poor man who dreamed one night that he went to Paradise, and who was so surprised to find himself there that he began to apologize profusely for…

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
April 24, 2004

I grew up on a farm in the mountains of northwest Arkansas. As children, my brother and I roamed every inch of the little mountain facing my parents’ house. We knew where every giant boulder and animal burrow was on that little piece of mountain bordering my dad’s farm.

One day, my grandpa came to visit from his home several miles away. We sat on the front porch swing looking at the mountain, and he began to tell me a story. It was a delightful tale about him and me living in a little cabin on the mountain.

 “Can you see it?” he asked. “It’s right there by that big acorn tree. See it?”

Of course I saw it. What eight-year-old child wouldn’t see what her imagination wanted her to see?

 “We’re gonna live in that cabin. We’ll catch a wild cow for our milk and pick wild strawberries for our supper,” Grandpa continued. “I bet the squirrels will bring us nuts to eat. We’ll search the bushes for wild chickens and turkeys. The chickens will give us eggs, and we’ll cook us a turkey over the big ol’ fireplace. Yep, we’ll do that some day.”

From that day on, every time I saw my grandpa, I asked when we would go to live in that little log cabin on the mountain. Then he’d once more spin the story of how the two of us would live in the cabin with the wildflowers and wild animals around us.

Time raced on; I grew into my teens and gradually forgot Grandpa’s story. After graduating high school, I still saw Grandpa and loved him dearly, but not like that little girl did. I grew out of the fantasy of the log cabin and wild cows.

Before long, I married and set up my own house. One day, the phone rang. When I heard my daddy’s sorrowful voice, I knew my grandpa had left us. He had been in his garden behind his house and died there, his heart forever stopped.

I grieved alongside my mother for my dear grandpa, remembering his promises of the cabin in the woods with all its animals and flowers. It seemed I could once again hear his voice telling me the fantasy we shared. I felt my childhood memories being buried with him.

Less than a year later, I went to visit my parents’ farm. Mama and I sat on the front porch admiring the green foliage of the mountain. It had been ten months since Grandpa had passed away, but the longing to hear his voice one more time was still fresh in my soul.

I told Mama about the story Grandpa had always told me, of the cabin in the woods, the wild cow, the chickens and turkey. “Mama,” I said after I had finished my story, “would you mind if I went for a walk by myself?”

“Of course not,” was her reply.

 I changed into old jeans and put on my walking shoes. Mama cautioned me to be careful and went on with her chores.

The walk was invigorating. Spring had come to the country, and everything was getting green. Little Johnny-jump-ups were springing up all over the pastures. New calves were following their mamas begging for milk. At the foot of the mountain, I stopped. Where did Grandpa say that acorn tree was?

“Straight up from the house,” I thought I heard him say.

I began my journey up the little mountain. It was steeper than I remembered, and I was out of shape. I trudged on, determined to find that tree.

Suddenly the ground leveled out. I was amazed to see what was before me. Soft green moss covered a small, flat clearing. Dogwood trees, smothered in pastel blooms, surrounded it. Off to the side stood a tall oak tree — Grandpa’s acorn tree! Scattered among the tufts of moss were vibrant colors of wild wood violets. Green rock ferns and pearly snowdrops were scattered about as well. I could hardly catch my breath.

I don’t know how long I stood there — several minutes, I suppose. Finally I came to my senses and sat down on the moss. In all my childhood wanderings on the mountain, I had never seen this magically beautiful place. Was this what Grandpa meant when he pointed out our special spot on the mountainside all those years ago? Did he know this was here?

A squirrel darted in front of me. He had a nut in his mouth. I watched as he scampered up the oak tree. No, I didn’t see a wild cow or chickens. But in my heart, I knew they were there somewhere.

I decided to go tell Mama what I had found. She would want to see it, too. Before I left I took one more look. It was the most beautiful place I could have ever imagined.

It didn’t take me as long to get back to the house. I burst into the kitchen babbling about the clearing on the side of the mountain. Mama calmed me down enough so she could understand what I was talking about. Daddy heard the conversation and tried to convince me there was no such place up there. He knew the mountain and had never seen anything like that.

On my insistence, he and Mama decided to go see the amazing place I was raving about. Once again I climbed the mountain straight up from the house. Before I knew it, we were at the top.

“We must have missed it,” I told my dad.

He just nodded and we retraced our steps. We searched for over an hour for that little place on the mountain. We never found it. I was devastated.

On the way back home, Mama put her arms around my shoulders.

“Sissy,” she said, “you know what you saw, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I know what I saw and I know it’s there somewhere. We just missed it.”

“No, sweetie, it’s not there anymore. You saw God’s garden. Only special people can see that. Your grandpa loved you so much, and he knew you were grieving inside. Hold that memory in your heart.”

I’m fifty-two years old now. Every time I go back to Mama’s house and sit on the porch, I remember the secret garden Grandpa told me about. But I no longer go out and look for it. No, I know just where it is.

By Bertha M. Sutliff    From Chicken Soup for the Soul: 
Stories of Faith Changing Lives One Story At A Time

 

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