Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
June 12, 2002

 ….you may need a Kleenex on this one!!!  Kenny  T

 

Well, here it was… one of the most exciting days of my youth, my very first trip to college! Twelve years of school had led to this very important day.

I am not sure who was more excited, my mother or me. Just being able to attend college was a miracle in itself since Daddy had passed away three years earlier.

I always knew that funds were scarce after he died. But Momma was somehow able to provide for us.

I thought I had understood the extent of her sacrifice, but it was on this day, driving in the car with my mother to college, that I learned one of my life’s most important lessons.

As we drove, she offered no profound advice — not about safety or financial responsibility or anything else of any importance.

There really was no need for such conversations on this road trip because these talks had happened long before.

Instead, the lesson came in the form of a few words spoken as we listened to songs on the radio.

My mother said, “San, do you have any gum?”

My mother never, ever chewed gum. Since I was the one driving the car, I told her to help herself to the gum in my purse.

My surprise continued when Momma pulled the gum from my purse and said, “Oh, honey, this is my favorite gum. Even when I was a child, I always loved this gum.”

Okay, now I was really, really shocked. Not only did she chew gum, but she actually had a favorite gum?

How was it possible that this precious woman who raised me enjoyed such a simple pleasure in life, yet I never knew?

As I watched my mother take the gum from the silver foil and begin to chew, I decided that I had to know the scoop about the gum.

“Momma, I have to ask, how did I not know that you chewed gum?”

Before giving her a chance to answer, I went on to reflect on what I remembered as a child…

Whenever we went anywhere as a family, we would pile in Daddy’s truck, Momma and Daddy in the front and all six of us in the back.

Like a tradition engraved in stone, Daddy would always stop and get three Cokes in the bottle, one to share with Momma, one for the three girls and one for my three brothers.

In addition to the Cokes, Daddy always bought a pack of gum, and it was the very flavor that my mother had just taken from my purse.

After I finished rambling on, my mother just smiled and said: “Honey, the pack only had seven sticks.”

It was at that exact moment that I realized my precious Momma had made a choice all those times, years ago.

She’d given each of us children a stick and then one to Daddy — seven sticks gone and the pack empty, leaving none for her.

To some, this may not seem like a large sacrifice for a loved one to make. But my realization that she spent years giving up even the smallest of pleasures forever changed my heart.

I realized that day that, although my mother made huge sacrifices for us, that she also made a million small ones that went unnoticed.

People say being in the right place at the right time is the secret to success.

All I know is that a single stick of gum opened a world of knowledge about someone I had known and loved all my life and about the unspoken sacrifices she had made over the years.

To this day, I am very thankful for the college education I received those many years ago. But it is my momma who taught me the lessons of true love.

By the way, every year since that time, I always nestle a pack of that flavored gum in the bow adorning her Christmas gift.

Sandy M. Smith
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom [ditto...]
http://www.chickensoup.com/  Changing Lives One Story At A Time
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
June 11, 2011

“Doesn’t he look old?” my dinner companion asked as she nodded at a man sitting across the restaurant. I looked to see who she meant.

It was a “girls’ night out” for the two of us — husbands and kids, and in my case, grandkids,  left behind for a couple of hours as we caught up on a little girl talk.

We had known one another since junior high school and had graduated in the same high school class.

Time, careers, husbands and families had taken us on different paths in life, but recently she and her family had returned to our little hometown with its two stoplights.

We were both in our mid-sixties now, and the outing tonight was our own private celebration of the renewal of our friendship.

I glanced again at the man sitting alone across the room, enjoying a solitary meal. We had all attended the same high school,  although he was a year older than she and I.

“His hair has gotten so gray, that is what little he has left,” my friend commented. “And look at all those wrinkles!”

I thought back to our high school years. He had been the “Fonzie” of the school — the “cool cat” with the black leather jacket and coal black hair combed into a “duck tail,” the style of the day.

He even rode a motorcycle, something almost unheard of for a high school kid back in the early 1960s — at least in our small town. In fact, back then very few teens had any kind of transportation they could call their own.

Oh, the girls might beg to drive the family car for a Sunday afternoon spin with girlfriends, and if the boys did have a set of wheels, it was usually a “fixer upper” bought in a junkyard.

That meant the guys would spend most Saturday afternoons under the hood trying to find why this hose leaked or that valve malfunctioned.

But not our friend across the room. He drove a Harley and was the envy of all the guys and the dreamboat for all the girls.

“His hands are even trembling,” my companion exclaimed, and sure enough, when I glanced again, I saw a slight shaking as he lifted his coffee cup to his lips.

We had dated for a while when he was a senior and I was a junior. I remembered lazy summer afternoons on the back of the Harley, clinging to his leather jacket and laughing into the wind. Life had seemed so perfect and so innocent.

Then he had graduated from high school and without any fanfare or notice, decided college wasn’t his lot in life, so he joined the Army.

Before long he was shipped overseas while I finished my high school years and went off to college. We lost touch then, as he never wrote, but one day he returned, bringing with him a girl he had met and married while stationed in Europe.

She was pretty and outgoing, and I liked her. By then, I was married, too, and starting my own family. I would see the two of them occasionally at a community event or shopping in a local store.

We would exchange pleasantries as people do while standing in the produce aisle. But when he and I looked at one another, there was something there — a smile, a remembrance, that passed between us quietly and innocently, and I could almost feel the wind in my hair once again.

“He just looks like a dried up little old man,” my friend continued. “Doesn’t he look old to you?”

I smiled. “No,” I said.

And I meant it. For when I looked at my friend across the table from me and the other sitting across the room, I still saw them as they once were. I saw my first love and my forever friend.

I was looking at them with different eyes than perhaps most people saw them. I was seeing them through eyes of love. I knew neither would ever look old to me.

And as I glanced across the room once more, his piercing blue eyes met mine and he gave me that crooked smile. I thought — no, I am certain — that I felt the wind in my hair one more time. And it was a sweet memory indeed.

Eyes of Love By Anna B. Ashby
From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for the Young at Heart
http://www.chickensoup.com/ Changing Lives One Story At A Time
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
June 10, 2000

My son Gilbert was eight years old and had been in Cub Scouts only a
short time. During one of his meetings he was handed a sheet of paper,
a block of wood and four tires and told to return home and give all to
“dad.” That was not an easy task for Gilbert to do. Dad was not
receptive to doing things with his son. But Gilbert tried. Dad read
the paper and scoffed at the idea of making a pine wood derby car with
his young, eager son.

The block of wood remained untouched as the weeks passed. Finally, Mom
stepped in to see if I could figure this all out. The project began.
Having no carpentry or mechanical skills, I decided it would be best if
I simply read the directions and let Gilbert do the work. And he did.
I read aloud the measurements, the rules of what we could do and what we
couldn’t do. Within days his block of wood was turning into a pinewood
derby car. A little lopsided, but looking great (at least through the
eyes of Mom).

Gilbert had not seen any of the other kids cars and was feeling pretty
proud of his “Blue Lightning,” the pride that comes with knowing you did
something on your own. Then the big night came. With his blue pinewood
derby in his hand and pride in his heart we headed to the big race.
Once there my little one’s pride turned to humility. Gilbert’s car was
obviously the only car made entirely on his own. All the other cars
were a father-son partnership, with cool paint jobs and sleek body
styles made for speed. Gilbert’s car was an unattractive vehicle. To
add to the humility Gilbert was the only boy without a man at his side.
A couple of the boys who were from single parent homes at least had an
uncle or grandfather by their side, Gilbert had “Mom.”

As the race began it was done in elimination fashion. You kept racing
as long as you were the winner. One by one the cars raced down the
finely sanded ramp. Finally it was between Gilbert and the sleekest,
fastest looking car there. As the last race was about to begin, my wide
eyed, shy eight year old ask if they could stop the race for a minute,
because he wanted to pray. The race stopped.

Gilbert hit his knees clutching his funny looking block of wood
between his hands. With a wrinkled brow he set to converse with his
Father. He prayed in earnest for a very long minute and a half. Then he
stood, smile on his face and announced, ‘Okay, I am ready.”

As the crowd cheered, a boy named Tommy stood with his father as their
car sped down the ramp. Gilbert stood with his heavenly Father within
his heart and watched his block of wood wobble down the ramp with
surprisingly great speed and rushed over the finish line a fraction of a
second before Tommy’s car.

Gilbert leaped into the air with a loud “Thank you” as the crowd
roared in approval. The Scout Master came up to Gilbert with microphone
in hand and asked the obvious question, “So you prayed to win, huh,
Gilbert?”

To which my young son answered, “Oh, no sir. That wouldn’t be fair to
ask God to help you beat someone else. I just asked Him to make it so I
don’t cry when I lose.”

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

Vintage Dilbert
June 7, 2015

Oops!

My piggy bank slipped from my hands and fell, breaking into pieces. The coins scattered all over the room. I quickly ran to pick them all up as my grandfather gazed at me.

The piggy bank had been a gift from him. It had an opening through which one could put money in, but it was not big enough to reach in and get the money out. That’s the whole idea, he explained. The bank will help you save your money so that at the end of the year, you might have enough for that bicycle you want.

Whenever he gave me a little bit of money, which was often, he would say, This is for spending. But you can save some and put it in the piggy bank if you want to save it up. Whenever he gave me larger amounts, it was clearly for saving in the piggy bank.

For some time, this worked fine. I loved shaking the piggy bank and hearing the clinking sound of the coins. As it became heavier, I grew more and more excited, dreaming about what I could do with my savings.

Until . . .

One day, my friends and I wanted to visit the new ice-cream shop in town. Even after pooling everybody’s money together, we did not have enough for each of us to get an ice cream.

Why don’t you take some out of your piggy bank? my friend asked.

No. I can’t, I replied firmly. There is a slit for putting the money in, but no way for taking any out. Besides, my grandfather told me that I need to save the money until the end of the year.

Come on. Show me the piggy bank. I’ll show you how you can take out the money, said my friend, the know-it-all.

I didn’t want to, but I felt pressured by my friends. We took the piggy bank to the park and tried our best to shake out the money.

I must confess that it was fun. Someone got a quarter, another one got a dollar bill, and one managed to pull out a five-dollar bill.

Finally, we managed to get enough money to buy everyone an ice cream.

From then on, I became an expert at taking money out of my piggy bank. Soon, it became a habit, and I started taking out money whenever I wanted it, without a second thought.

I was doing just that when Grandpa walked in.

It was then that I panicked and dropped the piggy bank. It broke.

As I picked up the last coin, it was painfully clear that I had spent most of the money in it.

I burst into tears, and Grandpa came over and hugged me, not saying a single word. He let me cry as much as I wanted. I did not know what to say.

The rest of the day, I kept thinking how irresponsible I had been. Would Grandpa ever trust me again?

Soon, I got the answer.

The next day, he presented me with another piggy bank, identical to the one that had broken.

“Let’s try starting over,” said Grandpa, and then he kissed me on my forehead. He pulled out five dollars and gave it to me. “I know this bank will most likely have a much longer life.”

I put the five-dollar bill inside. And I learned from watching my grandfather’s actions, that along with not to rob myself, not to rob another of their dignity when they have made and learned from a mistake.

Jamuna Rangachari © 2006
Chicken Soup for the Child’s Soul
http://www.chicksoup.com
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
June 5, 1995

I have an important friend named Trey. He is exactly 10 years older than I am, yet he lives his life as if he were 10 years younger. He is mentally handicapped. Our day together is Saturday. We go to the library, pet stores, or for walks in the park. I mainly work with him on socialization. I met Trey 10 years ago when we attended the same church.

This 200-pound man likes to shake people’s hands. He can be a fairly daunting sight as he gallops up to someone, with an ear-to-ear grin, and sticks his large hand in the person’s face. I try to teach him this is inappropriate.

“Stand next to me and don’t go up to people,” I say. “No one likes it.”

“Ochay,” he says obediently.

I taught Trey to ride a bike, but not before running off curbs and toppling over about a dozen times first.

“Dust off and try again!” I told him every time he fell. I assumed I was the one doing all the teaching. Things changed, however.

I play in the city softball league. During a game, while sliding into third base my cleat caught and pulled my foot to the right and backward as my body fell forward. My parents, who sat in the stands, heard two pops.

I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. X rays revealed a broken leg and a foot that was totally twisted from the ankle. Emergency surgery followed. A pin was put in place to hold my foot to my ankle and screws were inserted in the broken leg.

In the early morning, with groggy eyes, I awoke to see my father, my mother and, of course, Trey, at my bedside.

“Hi!” He grinned as he shoved his hand in my face.

“Hi, Trey.” I weakly shook his hand.

“Dust off. Try again,” he told me.

“I can’t right now.”

“Ochay,” he sweetly said, and galloped out of my hospital room in search of a hand to shake.

“Trey, don’t shake hands. No one likes it,” I whispered after him.

Before I left the hospital the orthopedic surgeon said I would never have the same mobility. Not allowed to put weight on my leg for eight weeks, I wobbled about on crutches. Trey soon became impatient with me, for he wanted to go places that I couldn’t manage. He sat with his arms crossed on his large belly, with a pouty face.

We read a lot of children’s books and drew pictures, but it was plain to see he was bored. He wanted to go to the pet store to see the mice and birds. He wanted to go to the library to count all the books. He wanted to go to the park to have me push him on the swing. I couldn’t do any of this for a while.

Meanwhile, I was plagued with questions. Would I be finished with my physical therapy in time to run track? Would I run at my capacity again? Would I do well in the 300 meter hurdles, the race I had lettered in the previous season? Would it still be my event? Or would the doctor’s prediction be correct?

I worked hard at my physical therapy. Afterward I packed my foot in ice. Sometimes Trey came along to watch me work out and he laughed and laughed when he tried out the stationary bike. “Don’t need to dust off!” he said.

When I finally got off my crutches, I pushed myself to regain my former mobility. Trey ran laps with me around the black tar track at my high school. He ran slightly askew. Sometimes he’d trip over his own feet and fall down hard.

“Dust off!” he’d tell himself with confidence.

After many months I felt ready for track. I qualified for the 300-meter hurdles. Mom, Dad and Trey sat in the stands to cheer me on the day of the race.

“Stay focused,” I told myself as I mentally prepared to run well.

The starting-gun shot split the air. As I ran I could feel the tautness in my legs. My feet hit the hard track one after the other, quickly, in rhythm. My breathing was even. I could feel the other runners around me, next to me, passing me, then in front of me. I ignored the rising pain in my foot and ankle. On the other side of the track I ran into a wall of cheers. No time to react, no time to think, just time to run and run hard.

A runner passed me, then another and another. Over the hurdles they flew.

“Look at that new girl Tiffany move!” I heard someone shout. Last year it was my name they called.

Once, I had sailed over the hurdles. Now it was as if I were pulling myself up and over. Finally I came across the finish line, dead last in an event in which I had set the record.

I finished the season. I did improve, but never placed first, nor set another school record.

I continue to play softball and run track. I am no longer the fastest, but I play. “Dust off and try again” is an important lesson. I wasn’t great or brave when I was the top player. It was easy then. Courage comes when it’s hard to go on, when others pass you regardless of how hard you work. Trey knows that. I think of his courage in going up to shake the hands of complete strangers, risking laughter from scornful faces.

Now when someone stares at us I pull on Trey’s sleeve. “Go shake his hand, Trey,” I encourage him.

“Ochay,” he happily says.

The person is always caught off guard when Trey offers his hand in friendship. But who can resist this person who brims with confidence and personality, who has the love of Christ?

My crutches gather cobwebs in a musty corner of the garage while Trey’s handicap remains as fresh as the day he was born. Proudly I say he is the friend of my springtime.

I no longer look at what I am teaching Trey; instead, I search for what he is teaching me -“Dust off and try again.”

Kimberly Ann Shope, Flower Mound, Texas
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
June 2, 2003

I saw a young mother,
With eyes full of laughter;
And two little shadows,
Came following after…

Wherever she moved,
They were always right there;
Holding onto her skirts,
Hanging onto her chair.

Before her, behind her,
An adhesive pair;
So I posed this question,
Hanging in the air:

“Don’t you ever get weary,
As, day after day;
Your two little tagalongs,
Get in your way?”

She smiled as she shook,
Her pretty young head;
And I’ll always remember,
The words that she said..

“It’s good to have shadows,
That run when you run;
That laugh when you’re happy,
And hum when you hum –

For you only have shadows,
When your life’s filled with sun.”

 

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

Vintage Dilbert
June 1, 2001

On Tuesday the best man I know will do what he always does on the 21st of the month. He’ll sit down and pen a love letter to his best girl. He’ll say how much he misses her and loves her and can’t wait to see her again. Then he’ll fold it once, slide it in a little envelope and walk into his bedroom. He’ll go to the stack of love letters sitting there on her pillow, untie the yellow ribbon, place the new one on top and tie the ribbon again.

The stack will be 180 letters high then, because Tuesday is 15 years to the day since Nellie, his beloved wife of 53 years, died. In her memory, he sleeps only on his half of the bed, only on his pillow, only on top of the sheets, never between, with just the old bedspread they shared to keep him warm.

There’s never been a finer man in American sports than John Wooden, or a finer coach. He won 10 NCAA basketball championships at UCLA, the last in 1975. Nobody has ever come within six of him. He won 88 straight games between Jan. 30, 1971, and Jan. 17, 1974. Nobody has come within 42 since.

So, sometimes, when the Madness of March gets to be too much — too many players trying to make SportsCenter, too few players trying to make assists, too many coaches trying to be homeys, too few coaches willing to be mentors, too many freshmen with out-of-wedlock kids, too few freshmen who will stay in school long enough to become men — I like to go see Coach Wooden. I visit him in his little condo in Encino, 20 minutes northwest of L.A., and hear him say things like “Gracious sakes alive!” and tell stories about teaching “Lewis” the hook shot. Lewis Alcindor, that is. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

There has never been another coach like Wooden, quiet as an April snow and square as a game of checkers; loyal to one woman, one school, one way; walking around campus in his sensible shoes and Jimmy Stewart morals. He’d spend a half hour the first day of practice teaching his men how to put on a sock. “Wrinkles can lead to blisters,” he’d warn. These huge players would sneak looks at one another and roll their eyes. Eventually, they’d do it right. “Good,” he’d say. “And now for the other foot.”

Of the 180 players who played for him, Wooden knows the whereabouts of 172. Of course, it’s not hard when most of them call, checking on his health, secretly hoping to hear some of his simple life lessons so that they can write them on the lunch bags of their kids, who will roll their eyes. “Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to,” Coach would say. “Never lie, never cheat, never steal,” Coach would say. “Earn the right to be proud and confident.”

You played for him, you played by his rules: Never score without acknowledging a teammate. One word of profanity, and you’re done for the day. Treat your opponent with respect.

He believed in hopelessly out-of-date stuff that never did anything but win championships. No dribbling behind the back or through the legs. “There’s no need,” he’d say. No UCLA basketball number was retired under his watch. “What about the fellows who wore that number before? Didn’t they contribute to the team?” he’d say. No long hair, no facial hair. “They take too long to dry, and you could catch cold leaving the gym,” he’d say.

That one drove his players bonkers. One day, All-America center Bill Walton showed up with a full beard. “It’s my right,” he insisted. Wooden asked if he believed that strongly. Walton said he did. “That’s good, Bill,” Coach said. “I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them, I really do. We’re going to miss you.” Walton shaved it right then and there. Now Walton calls once a week to tell Coach he loves him.

It’s always too soon when you have to leave the condo and go back out into the real world, where the rules are so much grayer and the teams so much worse. As Wooden shows you to the door, you take one last look around. The framed report cards of the great-grandkids. The boxes of jelly beans peeking out from under the favorite wooden chair. The dozens of pictures of Nellie.

He’s almost 90 now, you think. A little more hunched over than last time. Steps a little smaller. You hope it’s not the last time you see him. He smiles. “I’m not afraid to die,” he says. “Death is my only chance to be with her again.”

Problem is, we still need him here.

Sports Illustrated, Issue date: March 20, 2000 
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