RED MARBLES

I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes.  I
noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean,
hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid
for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas.. I
am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.
Pondering the peas, I
couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store
owner) and the ragged boy next to me.

‘Hello Barry, how are you
today?’

‘H’lo , Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them
peas. They sure look good.’

‘They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?’

‘Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.’

‘Good. Anything I can
help you with?’

‘No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.’

‘Would
you like to take some home ?’ asked Mr.. Miller.

‘No, Sir. Got
nuthin’ to pay for ’em with.’

‘Well, what have you to trade me for
some of those peas?’

‘All I got’s my prize marble here.’

‘Is that right? Let me see it’ said Miller..

‘Here ’tis.
She’s a dandy.’

‘I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is
blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home ?’
the store owner asked.

‘Not zackley but almost..’

‘Tell
you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let
me look at that red marble’.. Mr. Miller told the boy.

‘Sure will.
Thanks Mr. Miller.’

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby,
came over to help me.. With a smile she said, ‘There are two other boys
like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances.
Jim just loves to bargain with
them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever.. When they come back with
their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red
after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble
or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store..’

I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A
short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story
of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.

Several
years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had
occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there
learned that Mr…. Miller had died.

They
were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to
go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into
line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of
comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One
was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits
and white shirts…..all very professional looking. They approached Mrs.
Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband’s casket. Each of the
young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her, and
moved on to the casket..

Her misty light blue eyes followed them
as, one by one; each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm
hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary
awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller.. I
told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago
and what she had told me about her husband’s bartering for marbles. With
her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.

‘Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you
about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim ‘traded’ them. Now, at last, when
Jim could not change his mind
about colour or size…..they came to pay their debt.’

‘We’ve
never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,’ she confided, ‘but
right now, Jim would consider
himself the richest man in Idaho.’

With loving gentleness she
lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath
were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

The Moral: We will not
be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds.. Life is not measured
by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath……

Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles ~ A fresh pot of
coffee you didn’t make yourself…An unexpected phone call from an old
friend…..Green stoplights on your way to work….The fastest line at the
grocery store…A good sing-along song on the radio…Your keys found
right where you left them.

Send this to the people you’ll never
forget.. I just Did….

If you don’t send it to anyone, it means
you are in way too much of a hurry to even notice the ordinary miracles
when they occur.

IT’S
NOT WHAT YOU GATHER, BUT WHAT YOU SCATTER THAT TELLS WHAT KIND OF LIFE YOU
HAVE LIVED.

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