HE FOUND ME
by Sandra Dopierala, San Marcos, California
I was thinking I’d be alone forever after a terrible time in my life, when there he was. While I sat soaking in the fresh air after a two-week bout of bronchitis, he stood watching the waves roll in. He asked if he could sit next to me. “Sure, why not?” I said. We people-watched and talked about which dog breed was our favorite. We watched the sunset together. I didn’t know it then, but I’d found my husband—or rather, he had found me. We now return to that spot every year on our anniversary.
LITTLE PUFFS OF LOVE
by Betty Heidt, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Cream puffs: I never realized how much love they would exude over a 40-year period with my family and friends. My dear mother-in-law, Norma, shared her secret, luscious cream puff recipe with me in 1974.
Annabelle, my dear friend who had terminal cancer, requested my cream puffs throughout her illness. They were such a comfort food to her every time she smiled and took a bite. Up until three days before she passed, I was baking fresh cream puffs for her. Now she is smiling down on me every time I bake them.
A BIRD’S BEST DAY
by Kamran Smith, Middletown, Virginia
He was a big parakeet in a tiny cage that forced his body into a stoop. His water dish was dry and his food bowl was empty. A family had moved and left him behind, alone in an empty house. I transferred him to the biggest habitat I could find and filled it with parakeet toys: mirrors, balls, bells, chewing sticks. I named him Re for rebirth. Then one day I saw that he had straightened his body. He stood tall, gripping his perch with new strength. His green feathers shone, and his eyes were bright. Re’s rebirth had begun.
by Ruth Miele, Davisburg, Michigan
It was moving day for my son and his bride. As I drove the rented truck to their new home, one of the four rear tires blew out on the highway. I pulled off into an empty lot of a private school. My son joined me, and as we waited for the repair, we sat in a beautiful courtyard laughing about our predicament, sharing our lives, and discussing his future. What could have been a bad day turned into a special and private moment with my son. I knew even at the time to cherish our time alone.
by Cecilia Hannes, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Just out of the Navy, we were pulling our 29-foot-long house trailer through the mountains on our way to attend the University of Florida. When the car’s overworked clutch gave out, we found ourselves stranded on a dangerous curve. A truck driver pulled over, detached his trailer, and pulled our car to the next town where we got help. Before we could get his name or properly thank him, he was gone, back to pick up his trailer and continue the opposite direction. That was 50 years ago. I hope he reads this.
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by Alan Daugherty, Bluffton, Indiana
“Stay out of the cellar!” Grandma called from her TV room. We crept into the dirt-floored room off her kitchen, which was filled with candy from Thanksgiving to Christmas. She knew each family member’s favorite and made them all.
Living next door allowed frequent dashes to snatch confections awaiting the next holiday. Grandma didn’t mind the thievery. We left behind bags of sugar in trade. It was our game. She laughed. We grew fat.
“I hear ya!” she yelled as we snuck back out her front door, drooling divinity. Dad had already exited ahead of me.
by Pat Ferry, Mesa, Arizona
I was flying with C-130 cargo planes for several months, moving cargo all over the world. I would be gone for two to three weeks, home one day, then gone again for several weeks. Upon returning home late one night, I knocked on our front door.
“Who is it?” My wife called out.
“Pat,” I answered.
“Pat who?” she snarled.
I got her point and applied for a desk job the next day.
THE HEART ENDURES
by Mary Lazar, Sarver, Pennsylvania
A tree was given to our mother the week she gave our youngest sister a life-saving kidney. The Redbud tree, with its heart-shaped leaves, was the perfect tree to symbolize the gift of love. Our sister did very well with the new kidney for ten years. The tree thrived along with her.
Heartbreakingly, we lost our beautiful sister to eventual complications. The tree outlived her, but lost its struggle to thrive. As our parents reluctantly cut down the fading tree, they noticed the stump was in the shape of a heart.
A MOVING LESSON
by Evelyn Smith, Greenville, South Carolina
In my 86 years, I sometimes wished I had grown up in one place knowing all the same folks. Now, I know I was blessed with a more unusual life. How many girls have lived in 13 different towns—or lived in apartments, a pole cabin, a houseboat, and a three-story home—all before marriage? I never knew a stranger. No, Dad was not a preacher or a military man. He was a baker by trade and only had eight years of school, but he knew travel was educational and was not afraid of change. He taught me well!
by Colleen Wolford, East Syracuse, New York
Twenty years ago, we got a handicap-accessible tag. You know the kind: a long, blue placard with a cartoon wheelchair. As my husband hung it on the rearview mirror, my eyes stung. We needed it for our three-year-old son.
Twenty years have passed quickly. Tom is grown, and he is by all accounts a success. He volunteers, has friends, and is gentle with animals. When we go places, he sits up front with his dad and plays his music on the radio. We are very happy. And we still have our tag.
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BABY NO. 9
by Jeannette Bram, Rockwell, Iowa
For 40 years, I had wondered about my baby sister. Does she look like me? Where does she live? I hope she’s happy. After eight babies, my parents had divorced. They almost reconciled several years later, but a pregnancy brought out the old problems. Mom did the hardest thing, and gave up the baby for adoption. We were dirt-poor, fractured, and dysfunctional, but we had love. Last summer, that baby girl decided to find us. She has now met five of the six remaining siblings. My heart is so full. And yes, she does indeed look like me.
A STAND-UP WOMAN
by Robin Hynes, Slingerland, New York
My mom had a great sense of humor and a knack for making everything fun. One thing that resonated with me, even as a small child, was how much she seemed to enjoy her own company and found ways to entertain herself. As a kid, I remember her giggling while paying bills. What was so funny about bill paying? She would put humorous notes in the reference section of the check: For the electric bill, she might put “You light up my life,” and for the mortgage she’d write “Four shingles closer to owning it all.”
THE BEST BAD HAIR DAY
by Saveeta De Alwis, Colombo, Sri Lanka
The air smelled strongly of salt. My boyfriend had asked me to meet him at the beach. I love the beach, but today the sea breeze really wasn’t helping my hair. I grumbled as I made my way to the shore.
I saw the light of candles in the distance, but couldn’t make them out, as I’d forgotten my glasses. Why couldn’t he have picked another place for dinner?
I walked up to him and was about to open my mouth to complain, when he suddenly got down on his knee and said, “Will you marry me?”
A BIRD’S SAD WORDS
by Bill Brusick, The Woodlands, Texas
Pets commonly express feelings through sounds and actions, but words by nature escape them. Sugarcaine, our blue and gold macaw, uses over 30 words and phrases, yet these are merely repetitions without thought or reason—or so I thought. For two weeks we boarded him with our vet, where he resided in the top corner of an examination room. One day, a severely injured kitten was rushed in. The doctor and assistants worked dutifully, but to no avail. In reverent silence, as they stepped back from the lifeless body, a compassionate voice from the corner spoke: “I’m sorry.”
by Greg Hajduk, Valparaiso, Indiana
November 26, 1975. I was at a party with friends playing ping-pong. I was 15; she was 16. Her name was Joanne. I ripped a portion from a paper bag and wrote, “Can I kiss you?” She nodded yes. We left the party and went to our hangout spot. It was 6:30 p.m. and already dark, with huge snowflakes falling. I kissed her for the first time and saw fireworks. We married August 4, 1979, and this November 26 will be the 39-year anniversary of that first kiss. I still see fireworks!