A bell brings a surprise

Pappy ran a little Novelty Shop. He didn’t make much money, but he enjoyed the company. His wife was dead and his daughter had moved away many years ago. He was so lonely.

At first, he did not see her. Her shiny, soft curls barely topped the counter. “And how can I help you, little lady?” Pappy’s voice was jovial. “Hello, sir.” The little girl spoke almost in a whisper. She was dainty.Bashful.Innocent. She looked at Pappy with her big brown eyes, then slowly scanned the room in search of something special.

Shyly she told him, “I’d like to buy a present, sir.” “Well, let’s see” Pappy said, “Who is this present for?” “My grandpa, It’s for my grandpa. But I don’t know what to get.” Pappy began to make suggestions. “How about a pocket watch? It’s in good condition. I fixed it myself,” he said proudly.

The little girl didn’t answer. She had walked to the doorway and put her small hand on the door. She wiggled the door gently to ring the bell. Pappy’s face seemed to glow as he saw her smiling with excitement. “This is just right,”” the little girl bubbled. “Momma says grandpa loves music.”

Just then, Pappy’s expression changed. Fearful of breaking the little girl’s heart, he told her, “I’m sorry, missy. That’s not for sale. Maybe your grandpa would like this little radio.” The little girl looked at the radio, lowered her head and sadly sighed, “No, I don’t think so.”

In an effort to help her understand, Pappy told her the story of how the bell had been in his family for so many years and that was why he didn’t want to sell it. The little girl looked up at him, and with a giant tear in her eye, sweetly said, “I guess I understand. Thank you, anyway.”

Suddenly, Pappy thought of how the rest of the family was all gone now, except for his estranged daughter whom he had not seen in nearly a decade. Why not, he thought. Why not pass it on to someone who will share it with a loved one? God only knows where it will end up anyway.

“Wait…little lady.” Pappy spoke just as the little girl was going out the door and as he was hearing his bell ring for the last time. “I’ve decided to sell the bell. Here’s a hanky. Blow your nose.”

The little girl began to clap her hands. “Oh, thank you, sir. Grandpa will be so happy.” “Okay, little lady. Okay.” Pappy felt good about helping the child; he knew, however, he would miss the bell. “You must promise to take good care of the bell for your grandpa..and for me, too, okay?” He carefully placed the bell in a brown paper bag.

“Oh, I promise,” said the little girl. Then, she suddenly became very still and quiet.There was something she had forgotten to ask. She looked up at Pappy with great concern and again almost in a whisper, asked, “How much will it cost?” Well,let’s see. How much have you got to spend?” Pappy asked with a grin.

The child pulled a small coin purse from her pocket then reached up and emptied two dollars and forty-seven cents onto the counter. After briefly questioning his own sanity, Pappy said, “Little lady, this is your lucky day. That bell costs exactly two dollars and forty-seven cents.”

Later that evening as Pappy prepared to close up shop, he found himself thinking about his bell. Already he had decided not to put up another one. He thought about the child and wondered if her grandpa liked his gift. Surely, he would cherish anything from such a precious grandchild.

At that moment, just as he was going to turn off the light in memory hall, Pappy thought he heard his bell. Again, he questioned his sanity; he turned toward the door and there stood the little girl. She was ringing the bell and smiling sweetly.

Pappy was puzzled as he strolled toward the small child. “What’s this, little lady? Have you changed your mind?”

“No,” she grinned, “Momma says it’s for you.” Before Pappy had time to say another word, the child’s mother stepped into the doorway and choking back a tear, she gently said, “Hello, Dad.”

As tears flowed down Pappy’s face, the little girl tugged on his shirttail. “Here, Grandpa. Here’s a hanky. Blow your nose.

By Phyllis Caldwell

Being a team-player

We found out that Jenny was hearing impaired, when she was four and a half years old. Several surgeries and speech classes later, when she was seven, we found out that Jenny had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

She could not put pressure on the heels of her feet, so she walked on tiptoe and when the pain became unbearable, I carried her. Jenny was fortunate though, because she did not suffer the deformities often associated with JRV.

All through grade school and on into high school, Jenny suffered yet never complained. She took her medicine and I would often wrap her feet in steaming towels and hold her until the pain eased. But, as soon as she could withstand the pain, Jenny immediately carried on as though she were pain free.

She wore a smile on her face, a song on her lips and a love and acceptance of others, that was simply amazing. I don’t remember her ever voicing self-pity. She ran when she could run. She played when she could play and she danced when she could dance. And, when she could do none of these things, she took her medicine and she waited until she could.

Jenny, a beautiful blonde with warm brown eyes, was never a cheerleader. She never competed in a sport. She could not even take part in a Gym Class though she took the same health class four years in a row just so she could pass with a substitute credit each year. She joined the band. She won a place in the Governor’s School for the Arts; yet, no one in the Charleston, South Carolina School System knew quite what to do with Jenny. The perimeters were simply not in place to deal with a student, who was both active and handicapped.

Jenny continued to have one surgery after another all through school. Her hearing improved to 60% and she taught herself to read lips. She carried a pillow to school all through high school and once when she suddenly experienced crippling pain, her friends scooped her up and carried her from class to class.

She was totally mainstreamed, popular and funny, attending every football game, cheering the team on, carrying her pillow everywhere she went so that she could cushion the pain when she sat down. Then came her senior year. She would be considered for scholarships; however school activities, especially sports, could often mean the difference between receiving an award or losing out.

So Jenny came to a decision; and in her quirky unorthodox manner, she began to bombard the high school football coach. She begged. She pleaded. She promised. She got her best friend to sign up with her. Finally the coach gave in, with the admonition, “If you miss ONE game, you’re out!” So Jenny became Manager of the Garrett High School Football Team.

She carried big buckets of water to her teammates. She bandaged knees and ankles before every game. She massaged necks and backs. She gave pep talks. She was continually at their beck and call, and it turned out to be one of the best years for Garrett High School Football Team, in its twenty-five year history. Often Jenny could be seen carrying a bucket of water in each hand, nearly dragging them, along with her pillow tucked under her arm.

When asked why he thought that the team was winning all their games even in the face of injury, one linebacker explained in his soft Charleston drawl, “Well, when you’ve been knocked down and you can’t seem to move, you look up and see Jenny Lewis, limping across the field, dragging her buckets and carrying her pillow. It makes anything the rest of us may suffer seem pretty insignificant.”

At the Senior Awards ceremony, Jenny received a number of scholarships to several Universities. Her favorite scholarship, however, was a small one from the Charleston Women’s Club. The President of the Women’s Club listed Jenny’s accomplishments, starting with her grades and ending with a closure, “…and the first girl to letter in football, in Charleston History. But more important, what an inspiration. She excelled in the face of adversity, inspired an entire football team to new heights and gave hope to the future of every student at Garrett High School. Jenny will change the life of every one she meets.

 

By - Jaye Lewis          http://www.chickensoup.com