The Incredible Healing Power of Dogs

 

It has once been said that a dog is man’s best friend, and in many ways, they are. People have various kinds of animals for their pets, cats, birds, snakes, lizards, etc., and they use them for comfort, companionship, and security, just to name a few. But for the purpose of this story, I am going to focus on the incredible healing power of dogs.

A dog is not just a friend to another person or family, they are great sources of delight, happiness, and security. There is no better creature in the world that will a smile to a terminally ill person, comfort an individual in times of anxiety and stress, or simply become a fierce, loyal friend to someone in their time of need.

So, with that in mind, sit back and enjoy the following pictures of “man’s best friend.

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18 unnamed

I Will Be Here

person sitting on rock on body of water

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Occasionally, I come across a poem or the words to a song, that is very calming and reassuring. Today, I am going to share the lyrics to a song written by Steven Curtis Chapman, “I Will Be Here.” You can interpret them as either coming from a friend’s point of view or from God’s but either way, I hope that you find this comforting.

 

“I Will Be Here”

Tomorrow morning if you wake

Up and the sun does not appear

I will be here

If in the dark, we lose sight of love

Hold my hand and have no fear

‘Cause I will be here

I will be here

When you feel like being quiet

When you need to speak your mind

I will listen

And I will be here

When the laughter turns to cryin’

Through the winning and the losing and trying

We’ll be together

I will be there

Tomorrow morning if you wake up

And the future is unclear

I will be here

Just as sure as the seasons were made for change

Our lifetimes were made for these years

So I will be there

I will be here

And you can cry on my shoulder

When the mirror tells us we’re older

I will hold you

And I will be here

To watch you grow in beauty

And tell you all the things you are to me

I will be there

I will be true to the promise I have made

To you and the One who gave you to me

Tomorrow morning, if you wake up

And the sun does not appear

I will be here

Oh, I will be here

Unconditional Friendship

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There is nothing more special and meaningful in a person’s life to have that one or two special friends that you hold the closest and dearest to your heart. It was once said that truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget. It is so true! True and genuine friendship is one that will last a lifetime.

The following story illustrates this level of friendship in a beautiful way…

There were two childhood buddies who went through kindergarten and all the way to college together.  When war broke, they joined the army together and asked to be assigned to the same unit.  One night while out on patrol, they were ambushed.   Bullets were flying everywhere.

Out of the darkness came a voice, “Harry, help me. Please, Harry, help me.”   Harry immediately recognized the voice of his childhood buddy, Bill. Harry asked the Captain for permission to go out and help his buddy.

The Captain said, “No, I can’t let you go.  I am already short-handed, and I cannot afford to lose one more person. Besides, the way Bill sounds he is not going to make it.

Harry kept quiet, but again Bill’s voice was heard in the darkness, “Harry, please come.  Please, Harry, come help me.”  Harry sat quietly because the Captain had ordered him to.  Again, and again Bill’s voice was heard on the battlefield.

Harry couldn’t contain himself any longer and ran over to the Captain, “Captain, that’s my childhood buddy. I have to go and help.”  The Captain reluctantly agreed and let Harry go.  Harry crawled through the darkness, reached Bill and dragged Bill back into their camp.

When they arrived back at the camp Bill was dead.  Now the Captain was furious and shouted, “Didn’t I tell you he was not going to make it?  He is dead.  You could have been killed and I could have lost a hand.  It was a mistake for you to go out there.”

Harry replied, “No Captain, I did the right thing.  When I reached Bill, he was still alive and his last words to me were ‘Harry, I knew you would come.'”

 

Absolute…unconditional friendship!

Burnt Biscuits

jodie-morgan-PAa_MJztyUY-unsplash

Photo by Jodie Morgan on Unsplash

Unconditional kindness and compassion for others should be our core focus every day of our lives. I recently came across the following story, written by an unknown author, which illustrates this lesson…one that we all should remember to do each day.

When I was a kid, my Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. I remember one night when she made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and a batch of extremely burnt biscuits on the table in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed.

All my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day at school has been. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing…he never made a face nor uttered a word about it!

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits…and I will never forget what he said, “Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then.”

Later that night, I went to say good night to my daddy, and I asked him if he REALLY liked his biscuits burnt. He wrapped me up in his arms and said lovingly, “Your Mom put in a hard day at work today and she is really tired…and besides, a little burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!”

As I have grown older, I’ve thought about that many times. Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I’m not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like anyone else. But what I have learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

And that’s my prayer for you today…that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God. Because in the end, He’s the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn’t a deal-breaker!

We could extend this philosophy to any relationship. In fact, UNDERSTANDING is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife, parent-child, or friendship!

“Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket…keep it in your own.” So, please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine 😊

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Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil…it has no point.

What is a REAL Friend?

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A simple friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.

A real friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself.

 

A simple friend has never seen you cry.

A real friend has shoulders soggy from your tears.

 

A simple friend doesn’t know your parents’ first names.

A real friend has their phone numbers in his address book.

 

A simple friend brings a bottle of wine to your party.

A real friend comes early to help you cook and stays late to help you clean.

 

A simple friend hates it when you call after he has gone to bed.

A real friend asks you why you took so long to call.

 

A simple friend seeks to talk with you about your problems.

A real friend seeks to help you with your problems.

 

A simple friend wonders about your romantic history.

A real friend could blackmail you with it.

 

A simple friend thinks the friendship is over when you have an argument.

A real friend calls you after you had a fight.

 

A simple friend expects you to always be there for them.

A real friend expects to always be there for you!

Unconditional Friendship

two boys smiling

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There is nothing more special and meaningful in a person’s life to have that one or two special friends that you hold the closest and dearest to your heart. It was once said that truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget. It is so true! True and genuine friendship is one that will last a lifetime.

The following story illustrates this level of friendship in a beautiful way…

There were two childhood buddies who went through kindergarten and all the way to college together.  When war broke, they joined the army together and asked to be assigned to the same unit.  One night while out on patrol, they were ambushed.   Bullets were flying everywhere.

Out of the darkness came a voice, “Harry, help me. Please, Harry, help me.”   Harry immediately recognized the voice of his childhood buddy, Bill. Harry asked the Captain for permission to go out and help his buddy.

The Captain said, “No, I can’t let you go.  I am already short-handed, and I cannot afford to lose one more person. Besides, the way Bill sounds he is not going to make it.

Harry kept quiet, but again Bill’s voice was heard in the darkness, “Harry, please come.  Please, Harry, come help me.”  Harry sat quietly because the Captain had ordered him to.  Again, and again Bill’s voice was heard on the battlefield.

Harry couldn’t contain himself any longer and ran over to the Captain, “Captain, that’s my childhood buddy. I have to go and help.”  The Captain reluctantly agreed and let Harry go.  Harry crawled through the darkness, reached Bill and dragged Bill back into their camp.

When they arrived back at the camp Bill was dead.  Now the Captain was furious and shouted, “Didn’t I tell you he was not going to make it?  He is dead.  You could have been killed and I could have lost a hand.  It was a mistake for you to go out there.”

Harry replied, “No Captain, I did the right thing.  When I reached Bill, he was still alive and his last words to me were ‘Harry, I knew you would come.'”

Absolute…unconditional friendship!

 

Not Your Cup of Tea

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The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, no matter what you try, will simply not like you. But the world is also filled with those individuals who will love and care for you deeply. These people, the ones who love you: THEY are your people.

 

Don’t waste your finite time here on earth and trouble your heart trying to convince the people who aren’t the people that you love and value. They will miss it completely. They won’t buy what you are selling. Don’t try to persuade them to walk your path with you because you will only waste your time and your emotional good health. You are not for them and they are not for you. You are not their cup of tea and they are not yours.

 

Politely wave them along as you go your way as well. Seek to share your path with those who recognize and appreciate your gifts and talents…the things that make up what you are.

 

Be who you are.

 

Remember, you are not everyone’s cup of tea…and that is that.

 

Author: Unknown

Until Death Do Us Apart

man and woman kissing

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“Until death do us part.” This sentence is usually included when two people make their vows to each other on their wedding day. It symbolizes a sense of an unconditional kind of commitment, that, regardless of what may happen during the duration of the marriage, will remain strong and long-lasting. Unfortunately, many people fall short of this type of commitment for a variety of reasons…some realize their mistake and reconcile with their spouse while others may discover too late, that any kind of resolve is beyond restoration.

Today’s story is written by a man who made a bad decision with his marriage. He became involved with a co-worker, lost interest in his wife, and ended up learning a valuable lesson. It is my hope that his account of what happened to him and his relationship with his marriage will help encourage and inspire you to stay strong in the relationships of the people you love.

——————————–

A year or so ago, I came home one night and found my wife serving dinner. Walking up to her, I held her hand and said, “I’ve got something to tell you.” She sat down and ate quietly. Again, as it had been in the past months, I saw the hurt in her eyes. I tried to open my mouth and speak but couldn’t find the words. After an awkward moment of silence, I finally let her know what I was thinking. “I want a divorce.” I said calmly. She didn’t seem to be upset by my words, instead she asked me softly, “why?” I avoided her question. This made her angry. She began to yell and scream, threw away her utensils and shouted as I stood there and listened.

That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She just sat there quietly weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage, but I just couldn’t give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to my co-worker, Jane. I just didn’t love her anymore, I pitied her!
The next day, with a deep sense of guilt and sadness, I drafted a divorce agreement. In it, I stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. My wife, the woman who had spent ten years of her life with me and had become the mother of our child, was a stranger. I felt sorry for the time she wasted with me, the resources and energy she had spent with me, but I could not take back what I had said to her. The most important thing was that I loved Jane and loved her dearly.
Later that day, I came back home very late from work and found her writing something at the table. I decided not to have any dinner, went straight to bed and quickly fell asleep. I had spent a very eventful day with Jane and was dead tired. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.
Early the next morning, she presented her divorce conditions to me. She didn’t want anything from me but requested that I give her a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month, we both try to live as normal a life as possible. Her reason was simple, our son had his exams later in the month and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

I agreed to her terms.  But then she had something more…she asked me to recall how I had carried her into our bridal room on our wedding day. She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going a little crazy but just to make our last days together bearable, I accepted her odd request.

I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions. She laughed loudly and thought it was silly and absurd. “No matter what tricks or shenanigans she tries, she has to face the fact that the divorce will happen”, she said scornfully.

My wife and I hadn’t had any physical contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So, when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Behind us, our son applauded and yelled, “daddy is holding mommy in his arms!” His words
brought me a sense of pain and embarrassment. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; “don’t tell our son about the divorce.” I nodded and feeling somewhat upset, I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to go to work and I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more relaxed. As she leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked this closely at this woman for a long time. I realized she was not young anymore. There were fine wrinkles on her face and her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me and gave our family a son.

On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again, and I decided that I wouldn’t tell Jane about it.  As the month slipped by, I discovered that it became easier to carry her. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She had tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed and said, “all my dresses have gotten bigger.” I suddenly realized how much thinner she had become…which was the reason why I could carry her more easily. Suddenly it hit me like a punch in the gut, she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart and never once complained about it. Subconsciously, I reached out and touched her head and caressed her face.

At that moment. our son came into the room and said, “Dad, it’s time to carry mom out.” To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out of the house every day, had become an essential part of his life.

My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid that I might change my mind at this last-minute. Then, lifting her in my arms, I walked from the bedroom, through the sitting room, and to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally, I held her body tight…just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms, I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and told her that I hadn’t noticed that our marriage had lost so much intimacy and the love that we once shared.

Then it happened.

I drove to my office and jumped out of my car without locking the door. I was afraid that if I waited too long, I would change my mind. I walked upstairs and Jane opened the door. I said to her, “I am sorry, Jane, but I do not want the divorce anymore.” She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead and asked, “do you have a fever?” I moved her hand off my head. “I’m sorry, Jane,” I said, “I made a decision…I am not going to divorce my wife. You see, my marriage had become boring and shallow because we didn’t value the essential things of our lives, it wasn’t because we didn’t love each other anymore. We had just lost sight of the important things that hold a marriage together. Since I began to carry my wife this past month or so, I realized that I had started our marriage carrying my wife into my house on our wedding day and I am supposed to hold and take care of her until death do us apart…and that’s what I am going to do”

Jane was stunned then, suddenly, she seemed to wake up. She gave me a hard slap across my face, slammed the door, walked away, and burst into tears.

I walked downstairs and drove away. I soon came upon a floral shop and had a great idea. I decided to order a bouquet of flowers for my wife! The salesgirl smiled then asked me to write on the little card that came with the bouquet.  I smiled and wrote, “I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us part”.

Later that day, I finally arrived home with the flowers in my hands, a smile on my face and a song in my heart. I ran up the stairs, burst through the door and called out my wife’s name. There was no answer. Puzzled, I searched each room, but she was nowhere to be found.  Finally, I went to our bedroom and found, to my great surprise…my wife in the bed. But she wasn’t moving or breathing…she was dead.

Unbeknownst to me, my wife had been fighting cancer for months and I was too busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon, and she wanted to protect and save me from whatever negative reactions and actions that may have come from our son if the divorce had taken place. At least, in the eyes of our son, I was a loving and caring husband.

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Folks, there is a moral to learn from this story: The small details of our lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansions, the cars, properties, or the riches that we may have. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. It’s the little, unseen things that are the most important…love, faithfulness, commitment, and selflessness, things that money cannot buy, that makes a relationship, like marriage, endure the test of time. So, find the time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy, love, and trust. For it is the unseen things in a marriage that no only have the most value…they are the most important things.

Here’s to successful relationships, thriving friendships, and happy marriages!

A Friendly Toast

woman and man cheering glass cup beside table during night time

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There is nothing better that having good friends. Having those special people that we can go and share our thoughts, concerns, as well as the good and bad times we experience, are simply priceless. That’s why, I believe, that whenever we can, we should take the time to honor our friends. friends truly are a blessing!

Today’s little poem is actually a toast. It is a nice little thing that you can share the next time you have the opportunity to make a toast and give a nice, small toast of thankfulness to your friends 🙂

Make new friends,
But keep the old;
The new are silver,
The old ones are gold.

New made friends
Like new made wine;
With age doth mellow,
It and refine.

But unlike age,
that turneth gray;
Old friendship,
Never doth decay.

So, make new friends,
But keep the old;
The new are silver,
The old are gold.

I Went to See A Friend Today

backlit dawn foggy friendship

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I recently came across a poem about friends and friendship the other day that is, in some ways, related to a previous post of mine, “Do It All the Way”. Friendships and the passing of time, are things that we need to consider more and more each day. The following poem was posted on May 6, 2016 by oldmainer It serves as a great reminder to us all!

 I Went to See A Friend Today

I went to see a friend today
A friend I had not seen
Since he was in his twenties
And I was still a teen

We were both inseparable then
See one, you’d see the other
Sharing everything we did. 
He was like a brother

But as so often happens
Too soon there came the day
When he decided to remain
And I to move away

We wished each other good luck
Recalled good times we’d shared
Said that we would keep in touch
See how each other fared

But of course that didn’t happen
The days just came and went
No phone calls were ever made
No greetings ever sent

How quickly the time passes
And friendships start to dim
Although we went our separate ways
I often thought of him

I wondered how he looked today
How he had weathered life
Did he still live in our old home town
Did he ever take a wife

One day I got a letter
And when I looked inside
I read I regret to inform you
That your friend has died

I went to see a friend today
As I’ve often said I would
To visit for a little while
My promise to make good

I wish that I could tell him
How bad I feel that I
Never took the time to say hello
Before I said goodbye

Friendships are precious. Be sure to take some time to visit the people that are special in your life. Enjoy the time you spend together and remember the good memories from the past.

 

“There is nothing on this earth more prized than true friendship.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

Poems to Make You Smile

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There is nothing better when a person is having a bad day than to laugh and smile. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love to make people laugh and smile. I feel that that is one of my biggest blessings in life. The late Mother Teresa once said, “Let us all meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” It is with that spirit, that I decided to post and few poems that I hope will bring a smile to your face, a moment joy to your heart, and an encouragement to finish your day on a positive note. If one of the following poems have lifted your spirits and have inspired you, feel free to share your blessing with other today!

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Keep on Smiling

~ Poet: Alexandra Skiathitis

If at times you feel you want to cry

And life seems such a trial

Above the clouds there’s a bright blue sky

So make your tears a smile

 

As you travel on life’s way

With its many ups and downs

Remember it’s quite true to say

One smile is worth a dozen frowns

 

Among the world’s expensive things

A smile is very cheap

And when you give a smile away

You get one back to keep

 

Happiness comes at times to all

But sadness comes unbidden

And sometimes a few tears must fall

Among the laughter hidden

 

So when friends have sadness on their face

And troubles round them piled

The world will seem a better place

And all because you smiled!

——————–

A Smile

~ Poet: Unknown

A smile is cheer to you and me

The cost is nothing-it’s given free

It comforts the weary-gladdens the sad

Consoles those in trouble-good or bad

To rich or poor-beggar or thief

It’s free to all of any belief

A natural gesture of young and old

Cheers on the faint-disarms the bold

Unlike most blessings for which we pray

It’s one thing we keep when we give it away.

——————-

Smile

~ Poet: Charlie Chaplin

Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it’s breaking

When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by

If you smile through your fear and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You’ll see the sun come shining through for you.

 

Light up your face with gladness

Hide every trace of sadness

Although a tear may be ever so near

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying?

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying?

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile!

If you would like to hear this poem in a song, CLICK HERE! (sung by Natalie Cole)

——————–

Try Smiling

~ Poet: Unknown

When the weather suits you not, Try smiling.

When your coffee isn’t hot, Try smiling.

When your neighbors don’t do right,

Or all of your relatives fight,

Sure ‘tis hard, but you might Try smiling.

 

Doesn’t change the things, of course-Just smiling.

But it cannot make them worse-Just smiling

And it seems to help your case,

Brightens up a gloomy place,

Then, it sort o’ rests your face-Just smiling.

——————–

Gladness Every Morning

~ Poet: Nixon Waterman

Touch your lips with gladness and go singing on your way,

Smiles will strangely lighten every duty;

Just a little word of cheer may span a sky of gray

With hope’s own heaven-tinted bow of beauty.

Wear a pleasant face wherein shall shine a joyful heart,

As shines the sun, the happy fields adorning;

To every care-beclouded life some ray of light impart,

And touch your lips with gladness every morning.

——————-

A Face Without A Smile

~Poet: Unknown

Like a bread without the spreadin’,

Like a mattress without a beddin’,

Like a cart without a hoss,

Like a door without a latchspring,

Like a dry an’ barren creed bed-

Is the face without a smile

 

Like a house without a dooryard,

Like a clock without a mainspring,

That will never tell the hour;

A thing that sort o’ makes yo’ feel

A hunger all the while-

Oh, the saddest sight that ever was

Is a face without a smile!

 

The face of man was built for smiles,

An’ thereby he is blest

Above the critters of the field,

The birds an’ all the rest;

He’s just a little lower

Than the angels in the skies,

An’ the reason is that he can smile;

Therein the glory lies!

 

So smile an’ don’t forget to smile,

An’ smile, an’ smile ag’in

‘Twill help you all along the way,

An’ cheer you mile and mile;

An’ so, whatever is your lot,

Jes’ smile, an’ smile, an’ smile!

———————-

“So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected, let’s start an epidemic quick…and get the world infected!” ~ Russel H. Conwell

———————-

Anyone can make you smile,

many people can make you cry,

But it takes someone really special

To make you smile with tears in your eyes!

A Sandpiper to Bring You Joy

Ekaterina Chernetsova (Papchinskaya)

Photo Credit: Ekaterina Chernetsova (Papchinskaya) via CC Flickr

There are some stories that are worth repeating..today’s story is one of them.

A year or so ago, I posted a story that I had come across simply called, “The Sandpiper.” Unbeknownst to me, the story that I published was one that had been copied and re-written by another person who wrongly took credit for it. Fortunately for me, the daughter of the real author, Mary Serman Hilbert, contacted me and told me the following…

“This story was written by my mother Mary Sherman Hilbert back in in 1978 and is copyrighted in the  US Library of Congress. It was published in Readers Digest in 1980. The story has been reprinted in over ten languages and made into two plays.

There are many plagiarized versions on the internet, including the one that has an MR. Peterson instead of Mrs. P. (Ruth Peterson) as the central woman, as you have posted here. Please read Snopes assessment here for accurate clarification of the story’s background: https://www.snopes.com/glurge/sandpiper.asp

My mother passed away New Years Day 2010 at the age of eighty-seven.

~ Leigh Hilbert, December 11th, 2017

Most people who have posted my mom’s story have had good intentions and had no way to know if it had been altered along the internet pathways.

There are a few correct versions online. I will post here the original version and you can maybe repost it.”

So, without further ado, here is the original, beautiful story of the Sandpiper…..

A Sandpiper to Give You Joy

by Mary Serman Hilbert

Several years ago, a neighbor related to me an experience that happened to her one winter on a beach in Washington State. The incident stuck in my mind and I took note of what she said. Later, at a writers’ conference, the conversation came back to me and I felt I had to set it down. Here is her story, as haunting to me now as when I first heard it:

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.

She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.

“Hello,” she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.

“I’m building,” she said.

“I see that. What is it?” I asked, not caring.

“Oh, I don’t know. I just like the feel of the sand.”

That sounds good, I thought and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. “That’s a joy,” the child said.

“It’s what?”

“It’s a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.”

The bird went glissading down the beach. “Good-bye, joy,” I muttered to myself,

“hello, pain,” and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.

“What’s your name?” She wouldn’t give up.

“Ruth,” I answered, “I’m Ruth Peterson.”

“Mine’s Windy.” It sounded like Windy. “And I’m six.” “Hi, Windy.”

She giggled. “You’re funny,” she said. In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on.

Her musical giggle followed me. “Come again, Mrs. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”

The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an ailing mother.

The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. “I need a sandpiper,” I said to myself, gathering up my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.

“Hello, Mrs. P,” she said. “Do you want to play?”

“What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.

“I don’t know. You say.”

“How about charades?” I asked sarcastically.

The tinkling laughter burst forth again. “I don’t know what that is.”

“Then let’s just walk.” Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. “Where do you live?” I asked.

“Over there.” She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter.

“Where do you go to school?”

“I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation.”

She chattered “little-girl” talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Windy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood even to greet Windy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding that she keep her child at home.

“Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Windy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.” She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.

“Why?” She asked.

I turned on her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” – and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?

“Oh, she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.”

“Yes, and yesterday and the day before that and – oh, go away!”

“Did it hurt?”

“Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself.

“When she died?”

“Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn-looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.

“Hello,” I said. “I’m Ruth Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.”

“Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in.”

“Wendy talked of you so much. I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please accept my apologies.”

“Not at all – she’s a delightful child,” I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. “Where is she?”

“Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you.”

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.

She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks she declined rapidly ” Her voice faltered. “She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?”

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman.

She handed me a smeared envelope, with MRS. P printed in bold, childish letters.

Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues – a yellow beach, a blue sea, a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:

A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY

Tears welled up in my eyes and a heart that had almost forgotten how to love opened wide. I took Wendy’s mother in my arms. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, “I’m so sorry,” I muttered over and over, and we wept together.

The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words – one for each year of her life – that speak to me of inner harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand – who taught me the gift of love.