Warmest regards: Readers tell their stories
By Pattie Mihalik
A few weeks ago I mentioned James Patterson’s book, “Tell Me Your Best Story.”
On the premise that everyone has a story to tell, I invited readers to send me their stories. Today I’m sharing some of the responses.
Bettie Fanelli of Jim Thorpe sent this response:
Your column reminded me of a sweet little boy from many Christmases ago.
I was just a young and relatively new teacher in the early ’80s. I taught in a school that crossed many economic areas.
At Christmas I always arranged to “run out of time” so I couldn’t open gifts in class. After my first-graders went home that year I packed up my treasures. I found a brown paper bag under the tree. I found a half bottle of shampoo accompanied by a red and green note.
Mary Christmas Mrs. F
Love frum Jeffrey.
In all my 30 years of teaching I never again received such a sweet gift.
• • •
Lyn Summers from Lehighton shared this story:
My husband and I were having dinner at a popular restaurant one evening when a young girl and her grandmother sat at the next table. I couldn’t help noticing how much the older woman looked like my own grandmother, who had passed away about 10 years prior.
I had always thought that my “Nana” looked a lot like the famous Mae West, so elegant and beautiful. Her blond hair and flawless makeup were a trademark for her, even into her 90s when her health began to fail.
She always told me, “No matter how hard life gets, remember that you are not just a wife and mother, you are also a woman.”
I didn’t want to be rude and stare at the woman, or make her feel uncomfortable, but my eyes kept wandering over to her. I was really missing my grandmother, and the rest of my family.
I couldn’t just leave without saying something to her because I was sure she wondered why I was watching her. So I walked back to their table and apologized for interrupting their dinner. I told the older lady how she reminded me of my grandmother, and how much I missed her. I explained that I just wanted to say a quick hello, and wish her a nice evening with her granddaughter.
She was so gracious, and reached out to give me a hug. She said, “Your grandmother was such a lucky woman to have you for a granddaughter.”
Even though that was many years ago, I often think about that encounter and feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to share a little friendship and kindness with a stranger.
I think we all need to reach out to our neighbors, be they friends or strangers, to make this a better world in which to live.
• • •
Eighty-six-year old Elizabeth Arey of Catasauqua shared this nice memory:
In high school I wanted to be a journalist and joined the journalism club but never achieved that goal. Instead, I met my soul mate in my senior year, married the next year and started a family. We were married 64 years at the time of his passing four years ago.
I remember the good old days when the gas station attendant filled your tank, washed your windows and checked your oil. Eventually my husband did that for me. After he passed away I must help myself. Having problems with balance and difficulty walking, I use a cane. On a recent trip to the gas pump the attendant came out and told me she observed that I might have a disability so she will fill the tank for me.
The first thought that came to me was that the “good old days” are back, at least that day for me.
• • •
Pattie Eckhart tells this story she calls “The Dress.”
Money was tight in those days and time was running out before my cousin’s wedding. I was agonizing when would I find the time and where would I look for an affordable dress for our 12-year-old special-needs daughter. We lived in an old farm house in a very rural part of the country, and the nearest stores were an hour away. The wedding was being held in a very upscale community, near the city, unlike the laid-back country weddings we were used to.
We joined the local church so we could meet people in the area, though I didn’t really believe in this unseen God. One day, despite how I felt, I yelled out in desperation, “Help! Where can I find a dress for my daughter?” Immediately, I heard the words “Go to Penney’s.”
I knew it was not my imagination because I never set foot in a store like that, especially since it was inside the intimidating new mall. The voice was so convincing though that I had to check it out.
Once inside the mall, I felt like I had landed on another planet. Through many wrong turns and a few elevator rides we finally arrived at the Girls’ Department.
The racks and racks of dresses were so overwhelming I didn’t know where to begin. Without wasting another minute, I threw my hands up in the air, stood in the main aisle and said out loud, “OK, where is it?” I turned slightly to the right and poked my arm into the center of the ring-around that was closest to me and grabbed the first dress I touched.
“Wow,” we both said, “That’s p-r-e-t-t-y.” I quickly glanced at the tag — 40 percent off and in my daughter’s exact size. I knew it would fit her but had her try it on anyway. When she turned around she was grinning from ear to ear. We were on our way and out of the store in exactly 10 minutes!
Maybe this prayer thing works after all.
Contact Pattie Mihalik at firstname.lastname@example.org.