Angel In Uniform
Where there is great love there are always miracles.
This is a family story my father told me about his mother, my Grandmother.
In 1949, my father had just returned home
from the war. On every American highway you could see soldiers in uniform hitchhiking home to their families , as was the custom at that time in America.
Sadly , the thrill of his reunion with his family was soon overshadowed . my grandmother became very ill and had to be hospitalized. It was her kidneys, and the doctors told my father that she needed a blood transfusion immediately or she would not live through the night . The problem was that Grandmother’s blood type was AB- , a very rare type even today , but even harder to get then because there were no blood banks or air flights to ship blood. All the family members were typed, but not one member was a match . So the doctors gave the family no hope , my grandmother was dying.
My father left the hospital in tears to gather up all the family members , so that everyone would get a chance to tell Grandmother good – bye. As my father was driving down the highway , he passed a soldier in uniform hitchhiking home to his family .Deep in grief , my father had no inclination at that moment to do a good deed . Yet it was almost as if something outside himself pulled him to a stop , and he waited as the stranger climbed into the car.
My father was too upset to even ask the soldier his name , but the soldier noticed my father’s tears right away and inquired about them . Through his tears , my father told this total stranger that his mother was lying in a hospital dying because the doctors had been unable to locate her blood type AB_ , and if they did not locate her blood type before nightfall , she would surely die
It got very quiet in the car. Then this unidentified soldier extended his hand out to my father, palm up. Resting in the palm of his hand were the dog tags from around his neck . The blood type on the tags was AB- . The soldier told my father to turn the car around and get him to the hospital.
My Grandmother lived until 1996, 47 years later , and to this day no one in our family knows the soldier’s name. But my father has often wondered , was he a soldier or an Angel in uniform.
A ten year old boy was failing in math. His parents tried everything from tutors to hypnosis, but to no avail. Finally, at the insistence of a family friend, they decided to enroll their son in a private Catholic school.
After the first day, the boy’s parents were surprised when he walked in after school with a stern, focused and very determined expression on his face, and went right past them straight to his room, where he quietly closed the door.
For nearly two hours he toiled away in his room – with maths books strewn about his desk and the surrounding floor. He emerged long enough to eat, and after quickly cleaning his plate, went straight back to his room, closed the door, and worked feverishly at his studies until bedtime. This pattern continued ceaselessly until it was time for the first quarter report card.
The boy walked in with his report card — unopened — laid it on the dinner table and went straight to his room. Cautiously, his mother opened it, and to her amazement, she saw a bright red “A” under the subject of MATHS. Overjoyed, she and her husband rushed into their son’s room, thrilled at his remarkable progress.
“Was it the nuns that did it?”, the father asked. The boy only shook his head and said, “No.”
“Was it the one on one tutoring? The peer mentoring?”
“The textbooks? The teachers? The curriculum?”
“Nope,” said the son. “On that first day, when I walked in the front door and saw that guy they had nailed to the ‘plus sign,’ I just knew they meant business!”
An old soldier was once on his way home where he meant to spend his furlough , and he was tired and hungry. He came to a village and he rapped at the door of the first hut he saw.
“Let a traveller in for the night!”, he called .
The door was opened by an old woman.
“Come in , soldier,” she said.
“Have a bite of food for a hungry man, good dame?” the soldier asked.
Now , the old woman had plenty of everything, but she was stingy and pretended to be very poor.” Ah , me , I’ve had nothing to to eat myself today, dear heart, there is nothing in the house,” she wailed.
“Well , if you’ve nothing , you’ve nothing, ” the soldier said. Then , noticing an axe without a handle under the bench: “If there’s nothing else , we could make porridge out of that axe.” The old woman threw up her hands in astonishment .
“Axe porridge? Who ever heard anything like that!” she said “I’ll show you how to make it. Just give me a pot. “said the soldier
The old woman brought a pot, and the soldier washed the axe, put it in the pot, and , filling the pot with water, placed it on the fire. The old woman stared at the soldier and never taking her eyes off him.
The soldier got out a spoon . He stirred the water and then tasted it .” It will soon be ready,” said he .”A pity there’s no salt.”. “Oh i have salt . Here take some.” said the old woman.
The soldier put some salt in the pot and then tried the water again . “If we could just add a handful of groats to it. ” said he .
The old woman brought a small bag of groats from the pantry . “Here ,add as much as you need,” said she .The soldier went on with his cooking, stirring the meal from time to time and tasting it. And the old woman watched and could not move her eyes away.
“Oh how tasty this porridge is!” the soldier said, trying a spoonful. “With a bit of butter there could be nothing more delicious .” The old woman brought some butter, and they added it to the porridge.
“Now get a spoon , good dame , and let us eat !” the soldier said .They began eating the porridge and greatly enjoyed it .
“I never thought that axe porridge could taste so good!” the old woman marvelled .
“And the soldier ate, laughing up his sleeve, all the while
A LESSON IN WISDOM
A bear, a wolf and a fox once met and began bemoaning their lot and saying that they were often obliged to go hungry for so long a time that they got cramps in their bellies. Feeling that something had to be done about it , they talked it over and decided to live as brothers and to share whatever food came their way. This resolved on, they embraced in true brotherly fashion, vowed to be faithful to one another and set out together to hunt for prey.
On they walked and they came upon a young wounded deer . They killed it there and then , seated themselves in a shady spot and began dividing their booty.
Said the Bear to the wolf whose jaws were stiff , so long had he been gnashing his teeth: “Come , Wolf you divide the deer among the three of us .” “Very well , if that’s what you want ,” said the Wolf . “The head will go to you , Bear, you being our lord and master, the body to me, and the legs to the Fox.”
But the Wolf had not finished speaking when the Bear struck him such a blow on the head with his paw that the mountains rang with the sound of it. The wolf gave a howl of pain and fell in a heap .And the Bear turned to the Fox and said :’And now , Mistress Fox , you divide the deer “.
And the fox , who was very sly , rose and said in flattering tones:
“The deer’s head is yours by right , Bear , for you are our lord and master, his body is yours , for you have always cared for us like a father, and his legs are yours too, for you have always tried to do all you could for the rest of us.”
“You are clever indeed , Mistress Fox,” said the Bear . “Whoever taught you this very wise and sensible way of dividing a deer?”
“You did , my lord “, said the fox . “I’m not one to whom things have to be pointed out twice.”
A Fishy Friend
Once upon a time there was a boy name Sam. Sam had moved to a new house in a new state with his mom and dad. The new house was a beautiful place right on the edge of the ocean. It was in a special part of the country called the Florida Keys. Everybody in the family loved the new place, especially mom and dad. Dad was a fisherman, and it had always been his dream to someday own a house right on the ocean. Mom loved it too because she always felt close to dad, even though he would actually fish many miles from shore. It gave Mom a sense of peace being able to keep a watchful eye on the ever-changing ocean.
At first, Sam was very happy with his new home. There were so many new things to do. He had a beach that started in front of his house and stretched all the way around and down the side of the house. This gave Sam lots of places to swim and to hunt for things that the ocean would bring in every night.
But, it wasn’t long before Sam realized that he did not have any friends. Sure there were some other houses down the beach, but none of them had kids living in them. On some days he would meet other kids on the beach and play all day, but those children were all staying at a hotel nearby and would only be around for a few days. This was hard for Sam. He would meet new kids but not know them long enough to become good friends, and good friends are important. Sam remembered at his old house how he and his friends would plan adventures, have sleep overs, birthday parties and all those other fun things that good friends share.
One night at dinner Mom noticed that Sam was especially quiet. Mom explained that it was really important for a family to talk. We need to always tell each other what we’re feeling she explained so that we can work together to help everybody in the family be happy. Sam didn’t want to make his parents sad, but he realized that his mother and father wanted him to tell them what was making him sad.
Sam was glad that he finally told them about how he was missing friends because mom and dad came up with some pretty good ideas. First, mom reminded him that school would start in only a few more weeks and that was the best place to meet new friends. Dad promised to let Sam stay after school and play on the soccer team. That would be another way to meet new kids. Both mom and dad agreed that when Sam met new friends they would meet the other parents and plan lots of ways to let the kids get together and even have sleep over nights. When Sam went to bed that night, he sure felt a lot better. He was excited because soon he would be able to go to his new school and meet lots of new friends.
The next morning Sam got up, had a quick breakfast, and as on most mornings headed out to the beach to see what new things the ocean had brought in through the night. As he rounded the point near the very end of the beach farthest away from the house, he saw a small dark shape swimming around in a tidal pool. A tidal pool is a small area of water like a huge puddle that is left behind when the tide goes out. This tidal pool was especially deep and was only separated from the ocean by a narrow strip of sand. As Sam came closer, he realized that the dark shape was actually a baby dolphin.
Sam was very excited. He had never seen a dolphin up close before, and he knew that they were very friendly animals. Even though he wanted to jump in and swim with the dolphin he remembered that his father had warned him that not all dolphins are the same, and you have to be careful around them just as you would when you meet a dog or cat for the first time. Without meaning, you may actually scare the animal, and if you do, the animal may bite you because it feels that it has to protect itself.
Sam slowly approached the edge of the tidal pool and then stood quietly at the edge and watched the dolphin swim around and around. He could see that the dolphin knew Sam was there, but it seemed more interested in swimming in circles.
Sam realized that it was circling to find a way out; it was trapped. Sam knew he needed to help the dolphin get back out into the ocean. It would not be long before the hot sun would start to dry out the pool, and there wouldn’t be enough water for the dolphin to survive.
Even though this was a baby dolphin, it was certainly too big for Sam to lift. He thought of another plan. He remembered the large sand shovel that his parents had given him for digging up shells on the beach. He quickly ran back, got the shovel and started digging a hole in the narrow strip of sand that separated the pool from the ocean. Within a few minutes, Sam had dug a big hole. As he stepped away the dolphin immediately saw the opening and made his escape back into the open water.
To Sam’s surprise, the dolphin didn’t swim away; instead he came back to where Sam was standing in the water. The dolphin had come back to say thank you. Sam slowly reached his hand into the water and stroked the dolphin’s back.
That was the beginning of the best day Sam could ever remember.
The two became instant friends and played all morning. They invented games, and they swam together. They even started to understand each other even though they couldn’t talk. It was the beginning of a long and great friendship. Every day for the next few weeks Sam would get up early and rush out of the house, and everyday the dolphin would be waiting at the beach to play.
Soon it was time to go back to school. Sam would get up very early so that he would have time to say a quick hello to his friend before he caught the bus to school. Even though the two couldn’t spend as much time together, they still enjoyed their mornings and weekends, and with each passing day the bond of friendship and trust grew stronger between the two. Sam met lots of new friends at his school, but he kept a special place in his heart for his dolphin friend.
The school year passed quickly, and soon it was time for summer vacation. Lots of people were coming back to the beach, and the days were long and hot. Like the summer before, Sam would get up every morning to play with his friend the dolphin, and each day the two would think up new games and adventures. Then one day they decided that they would have some adventure or voyages of discovery.
For a long time Sam had wanted to explore a small island just across the inlet from his house. He swam every day and thought that by now he would be strong enough to make it all the way across to the island. He even felt more sure about his plan now because his dolphin friend had grown big enough to carry Sam on his back. That was one of their favorite games, and Sam was sure that if he got tired swimming across the inlet he could always rest while riding on his friend’s back.
The next morning Sam got up extra early and packed a picnic lunch. He packed a sandwich and some extra pieces of meat for his friend. Mom thought this was O.K. because Sam liked to have picnics on the beach. It was also quite normal for Sam to pack extras for the dolphin. Mom and Dad had also begun to know the dolphin by now and had accepted him as an unusual family pet. But, what Mom didn’t realize was that Sam planned a lunch on the deserted island.
Sam headed out of the house just as the sun was starting to warm up the day. It was a beautiful morning. The water was calm, and as usual the dolphin was waiting for Sam in the bay behind the house. Sam walked into the water, and he carefully tied the lunch, which he had packed in a waterproof plastic bag to the dolphin’s top fin. Then the two set off and started their journey across the inlet to the island. The water was calm, and the two swam easily across the inlet. After swimming only a short while, Sam realized that the island was not as close as he always thought. After about an hour of swimming, they still weren’t there, and Sam needed a rest.
He climbed on the dolphin’s back and rested while his friend kept swimming. As they neared the shore, Sam slid off his friend’s back and started to swim on his own again. Finally, they had reached the island. Sam walked up on the beach and proudly raised his hands into the air and gave out a little scream of victory. He had made it to the island. He had realised his dream.
Sam spent the next hour walking around the entire shoreline of the island, while his friend swam just off the shore. He found many treasures on this undiscovered land. There were hundreds of beautiful shells, starfish, sand dollars and sand crabs.
It wasn’t long before Sam’s stomach took over and told him it was time to rest and eat his lunch. He opened the bag, fed the dolphin the extra meat and then sat down on the beach under the welcomed shade of a palm tree. He quickly finished his lunch, and then decided that he would rest before the long swim back. He piled some sand up to make a pillow, put his head down and fell fast asleep. Sam didn’t realize just how tired he was. All that swimming and walking and exploring had worn him out.
The dolphin, on the other hand, had decided to go out and play with some of his dolphin friends rather that just swim around and wait for Sam to wake up. He was having so much fun that he forgot all about Sam sleeping on the island. It wasn’t until one of his friends decided to go home for dinner that he noticed that the sun had started to set, and the sky was getting dark. He raced back to the island where he had left Sam. He was worried that his friend may have woken up and that he may try to swim back without him. However when the dolphin returned much to his relief Sam was still sound asleep. He moved as close to the shore as he could and started to slap his tail hard on the water. The slapping noise woke Sam up, and as he opened his eyes, he instantly noticed that the sun going down. Sam knew if it was too dark, they would not be able to find their way home.
The two set off swimming as fast as Sam could. Sam felt good; after all he had rested all afternoon, but this time the swim wasn’t as easy. The winds had picked up through the day, and now rather than the water being nice and calm, it had grown rough. Sam soon began to feel tired. It was hard keeping his head above the water and the waves. Every time Sam felt that he was getting ahead a big wave would push him back. He was getting frustrated and a bit scared. It wasn’t long before he reached out for his friend and climbed onto his back. The dolphin tried as best he could to keep Sam’s head above the water as they swam, but this was also very tiring for the young dolphin. Soon the dolphin began to slow down, and Sam knew it was time to get off and swim on his own.
The two continued the struggle for another hour. Sam took short rests often on the dolphin’s back but both were getting very tired. The beach and Sam’s house began to get closer. They were happy that they could now clearly see the other shore. Then, all of sudden Sam saw the fin of a shark circling. He rubbed his eyes and looked again hoping that he was wrong, but in fact he now saw two fins. The two fins were circling closer and closer to them. Sam immediately crawled up on the dolphin’s back. He was frightened and didn’t know what else to do. It did not take the dolphin long before he too saw the sharks. They both knew that sharks were strong, fast swimmers, and that even though a dolphin could swim faster, he certainly could not with a boy on his back. They had no choice. They had to face the sharks and deal with the problem right here. The dolphin lowered himself into the water. Sam knew that this was the signal for him to get off. He was scared, but he trusted his friend. Sam realized that the dolphin must have a plan and needed his freedom to move around quickly in the water. Sam never for a moment thought that his friend would swim away and leave him. After all, they were best of friends.
The dolphin charged away from Sam and slammed fiercely into the side of the leading shark. The shark screamed in pain but immediately turned back to counterattack. Sam watched in total fear as he swam quietly nearby. To his surprise, the shark didn’t return the attack. The shark stopped just short of hitting the dolphin, and then it seemed as if the two began to talk.
Sam couldn’t talk to his friend, and he certainly couldn’t understand what the dolphin and the shark were saying to each other.
The dolphin and the shark were two very smart fish, and instead of fighting they had decided to talk it out first. The shark asked the dolphin why he was protecting the boy. After all, he was a fish, and well, the boy was a boy. The dolphin explained that the boy was the dolphin’s very best friend, and that they had been friends ever since the boy had saved the dolphin’s life.
“Well,” said the shark, “that may be O.K. with you to have boys as friends, but I am hungry and that boy looks like he would make a very good dinner.” The dolphin thought for a minute and then came up with a brilliant idea.
“There are two of you,” he started to say, ” and more than likely you two could get past me and get to my friend. However,” the dolphin went on, “what you don’t realize is that the boy’s dad is a deep-sea fisherman. He has a big boat and lots of other friends with fishing boats.”
“Yea, so why would that bother me?” responded the shark with a laugh. “Well, said the dolphin, it would not take long for the boy’s father to figure out that he had been eaten by sharks. That would make him very sad but also very angry. He would probably tell all his fisherman friends, and they would probably all come out in their big fishing boats looking for you.”At that point the shark began to rethink his plan. After all it was hard enough being a fish with all those fishing boats around. The last thing sharks needed were more boats on the water looking just for them. So, the two sharks talked it over and decided that it would be better to let this boy and the dolphin go on their way. As the two swam off, the sharks agreed that this was the right thing to do. Besides, there were lots of other things in the ocean they could have for dinner.
Sam could not believe his eyes. There went the two sharks swimming away, and the dolphin was on his way back without a fight. Sam of course was very happy, and he hugged his friend with all his strength and then climbed on the dolphin’s back.
The dolphin smiled the way only a dolphin can as he headed for the beach. He was very proud of himself and very happy that he had been able to save his friend’s life.
As they approached the shore, Sam could hear the voice of his parents calling out his name. They must be searching for him along the beach. It was almost dark now and he was probably late for dinner. He sat up as high as he could on the dolphin’s back and yelled back. His mother and father turned toward where they had heard Sam’s voice and ran down to the beach. Sam climbed off his friend’s back, gave him another big hug and thanked him for a wonderful day and for saving his life. The dolphin made a huge jump out of the water, and then with a flap of his tail to say goodbye he headed back out into the ocean.
Sam swam the last few feet to shore and then ran across the beach to his parents.
“Where were you ?”his mother asked.
“You’re late for dinner,” his father scolded.
“I went on an adventure today,” said Sam, “and it took a little longer than I expected. I’m sorry that I’m late.”
“Where did you go?” Mother asked.
“I swam across to that island,” Sam explained as he pointed to the small island across the inlet that was now almost hidden by the dark sky.
“You couldn’t have,” said father. “That’s way too far away and besides that would be a very dangerous thing to do.”
“Well, I did it,” said Sam, “but I did it with my friend, the dolphin, he let me ride on his back every time I got tired.”
Mom and Dad stopped walking and bent down on their knees, looked Sam right in the face and explained how he had broken so many rules. “First of all, you need to get permission and let people know where you are going. Secondly you must always let someone know when you’re going swimming,” mom said sternly.
“You must never swim alone, and dolphins don’t count,” his father added. Then they gave Sam a big family hug right there on the beach. They were so happy he had made it back safely.
Over dinner, Sam told his parents all about his adventure. He even told them the part about the sharks and how scared he was. The adventure was a little more scary than Sam had planned for, and he realized that the rules his parents had given him were for his safety. He was sorry he had broken the rules but thankful that his best friend, the dolphin had brought him safely back home.