During the waning years of the depression in a small 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 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
"They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?"
"Fine. Gittin' strong er 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. 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?"
"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 that 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 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 mentioned the
story she had told me about the 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 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
With loving gentleness, she lifted the lifeless fingers of her
deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red
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 right where you left them
They say it takes a minute to find a special person,
An hour to appreciate them,
A day to love them,
But an entire life to forget them.
Send this to the people you'll never forget.
If you don't send it to anyone, it means you are in too much of a hurry,
and that you've probably forgotten your friends.