During the waning years of the depression in a small south eastern
Idaho community, I used to stop by Mr. Miller's roadside stand
for farm-fresh produce as the season made it available.
Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering
was used, extensively.
One particular day Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes
for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature,
ragged but clean, hungrily apprising 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 and the ragged
boy next to me.
"Hello Barry, how are you today?"
"H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya.
Jus' admirin' them peas ... 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?"
"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."
"Here 'tis. She's a dandy."
"I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I
sort of go for red.. Do you have a red one like this at home?"
"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."
"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, perhaps."
I left the stand, 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.
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 viewing
that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go,
I agreed to accompany them. Upon our 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 ... very professional looking.
They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling and composed,
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
mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles.
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 color 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.
Moral of this story.........
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.
I wish for you 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 or shop.
I wish you a day of little things to rejoice in...
The fastest line at the grocery store.
A good sing along song on the radio.
Your keys right where you look.
I wish you a day of happiness and perfection
little bite-size pieces of perfection that give you
the funny feeling that the Lord is smiling on you,
holding you so gently because you are
someone special and rare.
I wish You a day of Peace, Happiness and Joy.
They say it takes a minute to find a special person,
an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them,
but then an entire life to forget them.
W. E. Petersen
Title of painting 'Shady Spot' by Mark Arian