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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
August 5, 2005

I remember the first time I saw Freddie. He was standing in his playpen at the adoption agency where I work. He gave me a toothy grin. What a beautiful baby, I thought. His boarding mother gathered him into her arms. “Will you be able to find a family for Freddie?”

Then I saw it. Freddie had two stubs for arms. “He’s so smart. He’s only 10 months old, and already he walks and talks.” She kissed him. “Say ‘book’ for Mrs. Blair.” Freddie grinned at me and hid his head on his boarding mother’s shoulder. “Now, Freddie, don’t act that way,” she said. “He’s really very friendly,” she added. “Such a good, good boy.”

Freddie reminded me of my own son when he was that age, the same thick dark curls, the same brown eyes. “You won’t forget him, Mrs. Blair? You will try?” The boarding mother asked. “I won’t forget.” I answered. I went upstairs and got out my latest copy of the Hard-to-Place list.

Freddie’s ready, I thought. But who is ready for him?

It was 10 o’clock on a late-summer morning, and the agency was full of couples; couples having interviews, couples meeting babies, families being born. These couples nearly always have the same dream: They want a child as much like themselves as possible, as young as possible, and most important, a child with no problems. If he develops a problem after we get him, they say, That is a risk we’ll take just like any other parents. But to pick a baby who already has a problem, that’s too much. And who can blame them?

I wasn’t alone in looking for parents for Freddie. Any of the caseworkers meeting a new couple started with a hope: maybe they were for Freddie. But summer slipped into fall, and Freddie was with us for his first birthday.

On a late fall day, it started out as it always does an impersonal record in my box, a new case, a new Home Study, two people who wanted a child. They were Frances and Edwin Pearson. She was 41. He was 45. She was a housewife. He was a truck driver. I went to see them. They lived in a tiny white frame house, in a big yard full of sun and old trees. They greeted me together at the door, eager and scared to death. Mrs. Pearson produced steaming coffee and oven-warm cookies. They sat before me on the sofa, close together, holding hands.

After a moment, Mrs. Pearson began. “Today is our wedding anniversary. Eighteen years. Good years.” Mr. Pearson looked at his wife. “Except…”  she said as she looked around the room. “It’s too neat, you know what I mean?” I thought of my own living room with my three children, teenagers now. “Yes, I said. I know what you mean.”

“Perhaps we’re too old?” I smiled. “You don’t think so,” I said. “We don’t either.”
“We’ve tried to adopt before this,” Mr. Pearson said. “One agency told us our apartment was too small, so we got this house. Then another agency said I didn’t make enough money. We had decided that was it, but this friend told us about you, and we decided to make one last try.”  “I’m glad,” I answered.

Mrs. Pearson glanced at her husband proudly. “Can we choose at all?” she asked.
“A boy for my husband? We’ll try for a boy,” I said. “What kind of boy?”
Mrs. Pearson laughed. “How many kinds are there? Just a boy. My husband is very athletic. He played football in high school; basketball, too, and track. He would be good for a boy.”

Mr. Pearson looked at me. “I know you can’t tell exactly,” he said, “but can you give us any idea how soon? We’ve waited so long.” I hesitated. There is always this question. “Next summer, maybe.”

“That long?” Mr. Pearson said. “Don’t you have anyone at all? There must be a little boy somewhere that needs a family to love him.” After a pause he went on, “Of course, we can’t give him as much as other people. We haven’t a lot of money saved up… But we have got a lot of love saved up.”

“Well…” I said cautiously, “There is a little boy. He is 13 months old.” “Oh,” Mrs. Pearson said, “just a beautiful age.” “I have a picture of him,” I said, reaching for my purse. I handed them Freddie’s picture. “He is a wonderful little boy,” I said. “But he was born without arms.”

They studied the picture in silence. He looked at her. “What do you think, Fran?” “Soccer.” Mrs. Pearson said. “You could teach him soccer.” “Athletics are not so important,” Mr. Pearson said. “He can learn to use his head. Arms he can do without. A head, never. He can go to college. We’ll save for it.” “A boy is a boy,” Mrs. Pearson insisted. “He needs to play. You can teach him.” “I’ll teach him. Arms aren’t everything. Maybe we can get him some.”

They had forgotten me.

“Then you might like to see him?” They looked up. “When could we have him?” “You think you might want him?” Mrs. Pearson looked at me. “Might?” she said. “Might??” “Yes, we want him,” her husband answered. Mrs. Pearson looked back to the picture. “You’ve been waiting for us, haven’t you?” she said to little boy in the picture.

“We’ve been waiting for you.”

Author - Abbie Blair
Morning Storya dn Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
August 4, 2004

Change had blown in on the winds of spring air and catapulted my family into a new era. My brother had graduated from high school in May and would be leaving for college. I had finished my studies and was leaving for a new job in Europe. We only had a few precious months left as a family living under the same roof. Everything would change in the fall.

Dad had quite the reputation for being the gushy, sentimental type. Surprisingly, he was doing okay as an impending empty nester. A few tears were shed when “Pomp and Circumstance” was played at the graduation ceremony, but for the most part he was holding it all together. We were very proud of his composure.

May also brought a family of magpies that would take up residence in our maple tree. This family returned year after year to bicker, squawk, build nests and raise baby magpies.

This particular generation of magpies seemed to be extraordinarily noisy. The tree shook with their daily skirmishes, leaves dropping and horrible sounds coming from the inside of the branches.

One early morning, the ruckus was so bad that my dad ventured out to see what the birds were doing. He found a lone, fledgling magpie hopping around the yard, flapping his little wings and yelling his little birdie head off.

Dad bent down to talk to the bird. “Hey there little guy. What’s going on? Did you fall out of your nest? Poor birdie. Where’s your family?”

He looked up in the tree to find Mommy and Daddy Magpie sitting on a branch and glaring ominously at him. “Oh, there you are. You should keep a closer eye on your baby. We have nasty cats.”

Dad went inside to take a shower. As he was leaving for work, the poor magpie was still hopping about, flapping his wings and trying to fly. He had to do something for the poor little thing.

Dad called the zoo. “Yes, well I have this baby magpie in my yard. He’s trying to learn how to fly but he can’t yet and I just don’t know what to do to help him. Should I catch him and put him in a box? Should I put him back in his nest? Should I bring him to the zoo? I think I should probably just leave him alone but I’m so afraid something is going to happen to him.”

“Sir?” replied the zookeeper, “You do realize that this is a wild animal.”

“Well, yes.”

“And that learning how to fly is a natural process?”

“Sure.”

“Then you should probably just leave him alone. He’ll learn. No offense, but your presence in the yard might be frightening him.”

Dad no longer followed the magpie around the yard. He did, however, watch him vigilantly from the living room window, just to make sure a rogue cat didn’t turn him into lunch.

The next day I got a call at my summer job. It was my father. He never called me at work. “Dad? Is everything okay?”

“Heather, have you seen Morey?”

“Morey?”

“Yes, Morey… Morey the Magpie.”

“You named the bird?”

“I saw him this morning but now I can’t find him. I’ve walked the yard three times. I even looked in the tree but he’s not around. I’m worried.”

“You named the bird?”

“I’m very worried about him.”

“Maybe he finally learned how to fly.”

There was a long pause. “I hope so.”

“Dad, it’s lunch rush. I have eight tables. Gotta go.”

Driving home from work, my Psychology 101 class finally paid off. It wasn’t about the magpie. It was about his own little fledglings who were leaving the nest. It was about my brother and me.

Dad felt as helpless as the mommy and daddy bird watching in the tree. He couldn’t make us fly once we left the nest. He couldn’t will us to be successful and happy. He couldn’t ward off the tabby cats.

In fact, once we left his nest, he could only watch from his own branch, provide love and support and hope for the best.

No wonder he named the bird.

I got home and found him looking out the kitchen window.

“Did you find Morey?”

“No, but I also didn’t find any feathers or signs of a fight. So I think he’s okay. I think he might have learned how to fly.”

“Of course he did. He had very good parents who raised him well, loved him and taught him how to catch worms. They made a nice cozy, warm nest. When it came time to fly, he already knew how to soar.”

My dad had big tears in his eyes. “Well, I’m still going to miss him.”

I snickered. “You’re a funny dad.”

The summer was spent playing, laughing and enjoying time as a family. Dad never did find Morey. I would point out a magpie and ask, “Is that him?”

“No, that’s not Morey.”

“Dad, it’s a magpie. You really can’t tell the difference, can you?”

“Of course I can. We bonded.”

Soon it was the end of August. Bags were packed and it was time for my brother and me to leave the nest. In the end, Dad had nothing to worry about. He raised his little fledglings well….And we flew.

Heather Simms Schichtel
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad  [Changing Lives One Story At A Time]
http://www.chickensoup.com 
MS&D

Vintage Dilbert
August 1, 2002

Kleenex ALERT!!!

There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. She looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got tot he point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners…he is a joy to be around.”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume.

But she stifled the children’s’ laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.

Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom, used to.” After the children, left she cried for at least an hour,. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.

Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets.”

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, second in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he’d met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years earlier and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit I the place at the weeding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”

by Elizabeth Silance Ballard
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 29, 2000

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the fridge,
and I immediately wanted to paint another one…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat and I learned that it was good to be
kind to animals…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that the
little things can be the special things in life…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I heard you say a prayer and I knew there was a God I could
always talk to and I learned to trust in God…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick
and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had
nothing and I learned that those who had something should give
to those who don’t…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it
and I learned we have to take care of what we are given…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw how you handle your responsibilities even though you
didn’t feel good, and I learned that I would have to be
responsible when I grew up…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes
things hurt, and it’s ok to cry…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could
be…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I learned most of life’s lessons that I needed to know to be a
good and protective person when I grew up…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I looked at you and wanted to say, “Thanks for all the things I
saw… when you thought I wasn’t looking.”

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 29, 1998

If you have ever been discouraged because of failure, please read on.

For often, achieving what you set out to do is not the important thing. Let me explain.

Two brothers decided to dig a deep hole behind their house. As they were working, a couple of older boys stopped by to watch.

“What are you doing?” asked one of the visitors.

“We plan to dig a hole all the way through the earth!” one of the brothers volunteered excitedly.

The older boys began to laugh, telling the younger ones that digging a hole all the way through the earth was impossible.

After a long silence, one of the diggers picked up a jar full of spiders, worms and a wide assortment of insects. He removed the lid and showed the wonderful contents to the scoffing visitors.

Then he said quietly and confidently, “Even if we don’t dig all the way through the earth, look what we found along the way!”

Their goal was far too ambitious, but it did cause them to dig. And that is what a goal is for – to cause us to move in the direction we have chosen; in other words, to set us to digging!

But not every goal will be fully achieved. Not every job will end successfully. Not every relationship will endure. Not every hope will come to pass. Not every love will last. Not every endeavor will be completed. Not every dream will be realized.

But when we fall short of our aim, perhaps we can say, “Yes, but look at what we found along the way! Look at the wonderful things which have come into our life because we tried to do something!”

It is in the digging that life is lived. It constitutes the joy in the journey.

Life may not be the party we hoped for… But while we are here, we might as well dance. If we can’t see the bright side let’s polish the dull side.

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 27, 2007

The holiday season brings with it a time to gather together and share stories. Many people reflect upon family, others about gifts, and some about gratefulness. Mine is a collection of all three.

When I was a young boy of 8 years old, I witnessed a professional magician perform miracles before my very eyes. I enjoyed the show so much my parents bought me an Authentic Magic Set for Christmas that year. That very afternoon, I hurriedly learned my first trick. It was the amazing feat of having small authentic felt balls pass through solid authentic plastic cups – just like on TV.

I raced downstairs to the kitchen to perform my first miracle for my family. My brother and sister were too busy with their own toys, and my father was next door helping the neighbors with an electrical problem, but my mother happily stopped doing the dishes and became my authentic audience of one.

I remembered the instructions perfectly, and when the felt ball magically appeared under the cup, my mother rose to her feet in astonishment and applause! Before booking my flight to Vegas, I thought I’d do one more free show for my father and our neighbors.

Through the freshly fallen snow, I ran without a coat or even a magic cape, from our back door to theirs. I found the two frustrated fathers in the family room surrounded by wires and bulbs. They obviously needed a diversion – magic. I called them over to the center of the room, and told them to, “Prepare to be amazed!”

While setting up my cups and balls on the coffee table, I explained, using the authentic banter from my direction booklet, how I was about to mesmerize them by making the felt balls pass directly through the sturdy plastic cups. With a professional flourish, I scooped up the first cup and ball, and they stopped me. “What about the ball you hid under the 3rd cup?” they said.

I was stunned. My powers of prestidigitation were gone. I was more than embarrassed… I was crushed.

They quickly got back to work on the pressing problem of malfunctioning Christmas lights. I gathered my authentic supplies and left.

As I slowly trudged back home replaying everything in my mind, I couldn’t figure out what had gone so wrong. I mean, I performed this trick flawlessly just minutes earlier. My mother had no idea how the ball – then it hit me. I did the exact same trick, with exact same lack of skill for my mother. She HAD to see the same mistake. She KNEW the ball was under that cup all along. But, like she always did, she cared enough to make that moment about me instead of her.

I was stunned. The power of love welled inside me. I was more than happy – I was grateful.

The circle of life continues to roll on. This Christmas, my son will receive his first magic set. And while I know there will be lights that won’t work and dishes to clean, I’m prepared to be amazed!

Thanks Mom.

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 29, 2004

On Christmas Eve, a young boy with light in his eyes,
Looked deep into Santa’s, to Santa’s surprise;
And said as he sat on Santa’s broad knee,
“I want your secret. Tell it to me.”

He leaned up and whispered in Santa’s good ear,
“How do you do it year after year?”
“I want to know how, as you travel about,
Giving gifts here and there, you never run out.

How is it Dear Santa, that in your pack of toys,
You have plenty for all of the world’s girls and boys?
Stays so full, never empties, as you make your way…
From rooftop to rooftop, to homes large and small,
From nation to nation, reaching them all?”

And Santa smiled kindly and said to the boy,
“Don’t ask me hard questions. Don’t you want a toy?”
But the child shook his head, and Santa could see,
That he needed the answer. “Now listen to me,”

He told that small boy with the light in his eyes,
“My secret will make you sadder and wise;
“The truth is that my sack is magic inside,
It holds millions of toys for my Christmas Eve ride.

But although I do visit each girl and each boy,
I don’t always leave them a gaily wrapped toy;
Some homes are hungry, some homes are sad,
Some homes are desperate, some homes are bad.

Some homes are broken, and the children there grieve.
Those homes I visit, but what should I leave?
“My sleigh is filled with the happiest stuff,
But for homes where despair lives toys aren’t enough.

So I tiptoe in, kiss each girl and boy,
And I pray with them that they’ll be given the joy;
Of the Spirit of Christmas, Christ that lives,
Will in the heart of this dear child, it is He who gives.

“If only God hears me and answers my prayer,
When I visit next year, what I will find there?
Homes filled with peace, and with giving, and love,
And boys and girls gifted with Light from above.

It’s a very hard task, my smart little brother,
to give toys to some, and to give prayers to others.
But the prayers are the best gifts, the best gifts indeed,
For God has a way of meeting each need.

“That’s part of the answer. The rest, my dear youth,
is that my sack is magic. And that is the truth;
In my sack I carry on Christmas Eve Day,
More love than a Santa could e’er give away.

The sack never empties of love, or  joys
Cause inside it are prayers, and hope. Not just toys;
The more that I give, the fuller it seems,
Because giving is my way of fulfilling dreams.

“And do you know something? You’ve got a sack, too.
It’s as magic as mine, and it’s inside of you.;
It never gets empty, it’s full from the start.
God fills it with love- it’s your heart.

And if on this Christmas you want to help me,
Don’t be so concerned with the gifts ‘neath your tree;
Open that sack called your heart and share,
Your joy, your friendship, your wealth, your care.”

The light in the small boy’s eyes was glowing,.
“Thanks for your secret. I’ve got to be going.”
“Wait, little boy,” Said Santa, “don’t go.
Will you share? Will you help? Will you use what you know?”

And just for a moment the small boy stood still,
Touched his heart with his small hand and whispered, “I will.”

by Betty Werth
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