Mom’s on the phone

A fire in the upstairs bedroom of the old farm house sent Mom down the road to Auntie’s house to call the volunteer fire department. They flipped phone book pages frantically searching for the number. Mom’s finger yanked the rotary dial, letting it spring back after each number. In her haste, she called a wrong number. She waited as all the switches on the party line fell back into place so she could try again. That long wait became part of the story of the day the house burned down.

In the next 10 years, phones and services improved, except for the cost of long distance calls. When Mom and Dad moved the family across the country, Mom could not sit at her mother’s kitchen table and visit. She only called after notifying Grandma in a letter when she would be calling. My grandmother, born before the wide spread use of phones, rarely used her phone. And, considering the cost per minute, Mom wrote a lot of letters.
As family finances improved and her grown children moved to other states Mom called regularly. She knew exactly how much each minute cost and what times cost the least. During the high day time rates, Mom only called to announce new grand babies and emergencies.

There were no emergencies.
There were lots of grand babies and phone calls. Mom wanted the contact. When I moved, the phone company took a couple days to install my new phone. Anxious to hear my voice Mom had called information for my new number and reached me before I had time to call her. Our number has been the same for years, but you better believe that when our area code changed in the 1990s, I quickly updated Mom.

In the 1970s we all knew the best rates went from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. For many years, Mom lived a time zone west of us. Eager to hear the latest news, she woke early enough to call after breakfast my time yet still be on night rates her time. She liked a loophole in the billing: night rates applied the hour we talked after her day rates began.
Thanks to her, I developed a mental meter that began ticking during any long distance phone call. The day my husband called collect from Mexico to talk about his short visit, I anxiously kept saying, “This is an international collect call.” Those seven minutes cost $63. I was as shocked as Mom was the day she learned AT&T had closed the rate loophole.

She called totally shocked, “I just got my phone bill for last month. AT&T has changed the billing. Any call continuing after day time rates go into effect is no longer charged at the night time rate.”
We all grumbled about that. We looked forward to those early morning phone calls. Before AT&T broke up and the advent of today’s cell phones, we knew the truth of the adage, “Talk is cheap until the phone bill arrives.” We quickly found another calling schedule.

I can no longer visit with my Mom on the phone. She never saw the proliferation of low cost cell phones, caller ID or unlimited talking. If she had, I am sure she would have had signed up for all of them and had every family member and the fire department on speed dial.

Thankfully, these days with multiple choices in long distance contracts, I can enjoy a phone call from any child or grandchild at any hour; and if the house catches afire I only have to punch in 911.

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Family portrait

Little kids wiggle, look away, cry, make faces and pick their noses. They are unable to sit, smile and say ‘cheese’ for the photographer. We take a lot of shots to hopefully get one good portrait. These days, with six married children, 18 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren in five northern, southern and eastern states, it’s nigh unto impossible to gather all in one place for a picture. Even capturing a shot of our six adult children is not easy.
In the early 1980s we had one baby, one high school graduate, and four in-between. I held the baby so she faced the camera. Through frozen smiles we commanded, “Stand stand still until the camera’s timer clicks.
They look happy in the print. Prints don’t capture our words.
In the mid-1980s: the graduate joined the military, added a wife and two daughters. Another graduated, and photos of all six and their families in the same room at the same time did not happen. Formal photographs show only the four children at home.
In the 1990s: As the youngest grew older, group shots dwindled to whoever we could find to pop into “just us” pictures. Once kids graduate from high school and get a job, they don’t drive a couple hours, let alone across state borders, for a family photo shoot.
In 2000, we held a family reunion celebrating my husband’s 60th birthday. Our college students and young parents with two in car seats made the long drive north. We passed out coordinating sweatshirts, lined up families and took a lot of pictures of everyone – except the two grandchildren who stayed at home.
Eighteen months later, at the youngest son’s wedding we had our first and only photo shoot with the entire extended family. We also posed with our six children dressed in black suits and wedding gowns. I was so proud to have those pictures.
The following two years we had two more weddings. Each time one or another of the six did not make it.
In 2006, a family reunion of my extended family promised to be one time we would have all six families together … until one entered a long term treatment program. At the reunion, 74 of the 75 people there lined up by families. One of our six wandered away as parents posed with squirming children. We smiled, said “cheese” and photo shopped the wanderer into the picture.
What is it with our six and their families? Can’t they stand still? Evidently not. At the next three summer family weddings at least one of the six and their family failed to make the wedding or the family pictures.
We tried family reunions during schools’ winter vacations and only to learn our UPS employee had to work overtime from fall to early January.
This year we fixed that. We went to the UPS man’s house. Five families drove up to 15 hours across six state lines ­ while the three week-old great-grandchild entered the hospital with respiratory distress. Grown grandchildren had other plans for New Years Eve, so again, no big family picture with everyone in it.
We did, however, have all six of our adult children together briefly on New Year’s Day. We quickly arranged them by age and took our first group shot since the 2001 wedding.
Last week I ordered prints for my gallery of family pictures. Perhaps someday we will gather everyone for a family photograph. Until then, I am proud of the photographic proof that our adult children made the time to come together, stand still, smile and say ‘cheese’.

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Then and now traveling with kids

Car trips with kids have certainly changed since the 50’s when I rode in the back seat of a station wagon with my brothers and sisters. Recently I rode in the front seat of a van with young grandchildren to a family reunion. Much has changed ­ even from when I had young children.
For one thing, in 2017, the baby’s car seat does not yield to anyone sitting beside it. Its straps do not yield to the one-year-old’s wiggles. Mostly, she played contentedly with toys her brother handed her, sucked drinks and delicately nibbled bits of food.
In 1978, our baby sat under the glove compartment accepting snacks, drinks and toys through the 12 hour trip to my parents’ house. The station wagon’s seat belts went unused most of the 12 hour drive. Instead, the boys laid on the seat, the floor or across the pile of suitcases.
In 1959, I played in the back. Seat belts and baby car seats did not exist. My mother created a shelf of beds on suitcases circling the back of the station wagon where we slept late into the night and played during the day.
In 2017, the kids forced to sit all day beneath shoulder straps and seat belts had permission to play on their electronic game tablets and watch hours of DVDs on the drop down screen that came with the van.
My voice would have enjoyed that in 1978 when I read aloud the Narnia Series and the Lord of the Ring Trilogy to break up the monotony of the road. Better that than bored kids pestering each other and whining, “He’s looking at me.”
Wait, even electronics gadgets have not changed pestering each other.
As teenagers in 1967 my brothers and sisters and I spent our cross country trip reading, sleeping, writing letters and trying to find license plates from other states. We did not have cell phones to stare at, just miles of scenery.
In 1957 traveling with my mother meant short stops at the grocery store. We waited and played in the car while she bought white bread and a pound of thick sliced bologna. She slapped meat between two slices of bread and handed us our sandwiches.
I told my husband that. He added, “and a bit of mayo.”
“No mayo. Just bread and bologna,” I emphasized.
In 1967, my sisters and I took turns sitting in the rear of the station wagon with the cooler of food and spread mayo on bread to make cold cut sandwiches for everyoyne else in the swagon.
In 2017, the van pulled up to the fast food window and we ordered hamburgers, some with and some without mayo. Then we handed each child a neatly wrapped and identified sandwich.
I loved the heated seat heating my back in 2017. It kept me warm and the back seat kids did not suffocate from the heat.
The heat of summer in in the south and southwest demands air, lots of air in the car. My brother always said our wagon had a 260 air conditioner: open two windows and drive 60 miles per hour.
Now when the temperature outside goes up, so do the van window. We want to keep the air conditioner’s cool air inside the van.
As our recent trip ended, I discovered one thing had not changed: Kids’ road weary whines, “are we there yet?” and their tired mom’s response, “No, and if you don’t quit asking ….”
Proving again, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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no instruction manual for broken leg

Broken legs do not come with instruction manuals for recovery, and I needed one after tripping down one step resulted in cracks and breaks in my left leg and a broken left wrist. Two surgeries left me stunned and bewildered. No one gave me a repair manual for healing. They did give me a prognosis of six to eight months for recovery. I thought they meant weeks.
They didn’t.
We measured my healing over the next five months with sighs of relief as we said good-bye to the open cast, the black brace with velcro straps, the walker, the wheelchair, the shower chair and the equipment’s scuff marks left on walls, doors and furniture. At six months the orthopedic surgeon shook my hand and said “good-bye.” Leaving his office with a stiff, swollen leg, I still wondered about the healing. I found the answer when folks stopped me in the store, on the street or in the gym to ask, “How are you doing?” Every single one then talked about their own healing process.
A former city official said, “After my knee replacement, the surgeon said, ‘when you sit in the lounge chair watching tv, lift and bend your leg as many times as you can.’” I still do leg lefts and march the leg when I am sitting at church, in the car and in the lounge chair.
At church, my friend said, “get your leg up on a chair and bend it as deep as you can.” Since my knee resisted bending, I tried anything. I stepped on the chair seat and bent into it. I laid on the bed and walked the leg up and down the wall. I did leg slides. I measured the leg’s bend by the distance the heel moved up the division on the lounge chair’s foot prop. The heels match these days, but I still don’t bend the leg underneath me and sit on it as I once did.
Once the doctor said, “Get up and walk,” I went shopping. I grabbed a grocery cart for balance and wheeled my way through the store. Near the check-out a woman I know from a repair shop stopped and asked, “How are you doing?”
“Okay. It just takes a long time.”
“I know. I had a tibial plateau fracture last year.”
I studied her standing without a cart for support. “How long did it take to heal?”
She smiled, “six to eight months. I still limp sometimes.”
I actually found that encouraging.
I asked a friend about her husband’s crushed leg. “He could not put his foot down for five months,” she said, “He did all the exercises and says that is why he is walking.”
Five months! That got my attention. The summer went by with my exercising five to six hours every day. At three and a half months, the doctor gave me permission to stand and walk.
At six months, I joined an exercise class and met an ankle surgery patient. We commiserated, pedaled stationary bikes and walked together at turtle speed.
During my annual physical. I tried again to gather notes to address the swelling. “Well, you do have a lot of hardware in there. It takes a while. When I had to wear a boot for a tendon injury, it was a year and a half before I walked normal,” the doctor said.
It is nine months since I broke my leg and the only instruction manual I have is: “Healing takes a lot of exercise, a lot of time and a lot of listening to other folks’ experiences.”

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Cara’s guitar

“You need a better guitar,” the professor told Cara Wiebe during her sophomore year at Calvary Bible University in Kansas City, Mo.
“How much will it cost?”
“At least $500,” the professor said.
Cara shook her head at the impossibility of the price. Her parents, missionaries in Mexico, struggled financially. She prayed. At the end of the year, she boarded the bus home with peanut butter sandwiches, pretzels, $5 and no guitar.
“When I got to Monterrey, a whole bunch of buses had broken down. I had to wait 10 hours for a bus.” At 3 a.m. one of the bus attendants approached, “An executive bus will be here in 10 minutes. You are not supposed to be on it, but if you can give me something on the side. I can get you on it.”
She looked at him, “All I have is $5.”
“That is all?”
She showed him.
“It got me on the bus where I slept for 10 hours. When I got home, Dad said there was barely enough money to get through the summer.” Returning for her junior year would require a summer of prayer.
“Someone had given Dad a vehicle. He said he would fix it and sell it for school funds.”
The vehicle sold but payment would take time. Cara had enough money to return to Kansas City, but no money for rent, food or a classical guitar.
The professor’s first question when he saw her was, “Do you have the guitar?”
“No, sir.”
“You need one that costs at least $1,000 to $1,500.”
“I panicked. I could not afford $500 or $1,500. God had me at the college and I did not have the guitar needed for my major.” (As a double major in classical guitar and music education for all grades in band and choir, Cara had a heavy class load with hours of practice learning to play other instruments, leaving her no time to work.)
“The next day, my mentor from church called. ‘Cara Jean, God has unexpectedly provided for us. We hear you need a new instrument. I am writing out a check. Go get the instrument.’”
“They gave me an envelope with a check for $1,000 plus a little bit more.”
The professor contacted the guitar shop owner, “I need you to pick one for her. She has limited resources.”
The owner welcomed her saying,“I have three guitars I want you to try.”
She played one. He shook his head, “It does not fit you.” She tried the second. He thought it was a good match but also had her try the third.
Cara reminded him, “I need to go with whatever is more economical.”
He picked up the second guitar, “This is obviously the one you need. It responds to you.”
Buying the guitar, its case and taxes used all the money the friend had given her. “It was just the exact amount I needed,” Cara recalled.
She had her guitar. But, God had more to give her.
To save money she lived off campus and prepared her own meals. “I didn’t have money for food,” she said. That Sunday the church where she served gave her a grocery store gift card that provided food through the semester.” Within days, she also received monetary gifts that covered her rent and the first payment of her school fees.
Looking back on that time, Cara says, “It was overwhelming and humbling to know that He cares.” When she had nothing, she experienced God’s love through the people who gifted her with a classical guitar, groceries and funds for school.

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Elf on the Shelf

The recent introduction of “The Elf on the Shelf” ramps up Christmas hype. The simple doll that parents hide each night reminds children, “The Elf is watching and reporting to Santa.” Many parents develop scenarios such as The Elf drinking cocoa, sitting with his feet hanging over the sink or toasting a marshmallow over a battery operated flame light. Young school children talk about their personal elf’s shenanigans
Well, some talk about it. Children whose parents who have not purchased The Elf and accompanying book hear all about him from their friends and wonder ‘why’ they do not have an elf. Therein lies the conundrum for parents: go with the flow, buy an elf and begin a nightly ritual of moving him around the house, or simply refuse to add one more thing to do in December.
One mother posted on Facebook, “I thought The Elf was passė, but maybe I’m just unaware. The children said they are the ONLY ones in their class who don’t have an elf. I want my kids to know they get gifts us because we love them. I don’t have time to babysit an elf. I am not standing in judgment if you do the elf or Santa stuff, I’m just curious, really. Mostly I am trying to gauge the accuracy of my girls’ statements.”
Parents logged in from every viewpoint.
Parents who hide The Elf:
“We do the Elf because we thoroughly enjoy being silly with it. We don’t do anything complex. We forget sometimes, but it’s fun.”
“My kids love it. My oldest knows it’s fake. They think it’s fun to look for it every morning. Even if you explain its fake, it’s still a fun game for them to find it doing something crazy.”
Tried and failed.
“Last year I had the elf bring an act of service for the kids to try to accomplish each day. I forgot to change it out most days. This year he is somewhere in our storage unit.” 
After five years of the Elf, the 8 year old caught his mother moving the Elf. “He was heart broken. He came running into the kitchen crying, ‘Tiny is a fake?’ I felt as though I had failed as a parent. It made me rethink things like Santa and the Tooth Fairy which my parents did. I don’t recall feeling betrayed when I realized my Dad dressed up as Santa or my Mom put the quarter under my pillow, but the look on my baby’s face when he asked ‘why I had been lying all that time.’ Whew.”
Do not have an Elf:
“Everyone I know that has one is sorry they ever started it.”
“It looks fun but I don’t like the concept of it.”
“I think it’s okay for them to learn to be different and it starts in small ways.”
“We don’t do Elf or Santa for the same reasons you stated.”
“I honestly don’t have time to add that to the holidays.”
Compromised to emphasize the birth of Christ.
“One year the Elf brought a new nativity figure every morning until we had the whole scene. It was a fun way to talk about the Christmas Story.” 
“We do Shepherd’s Treasure. It’s the same concept except the Shepherd is searching for Jesus. There is a different verse everyday. He does positive things to teach them how to search for Jesus all their lives and encourages them to serve through the season.”
So, not everyone has an Elf on the Shelf and those who don’t are quite content to leave it that way.

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A van to go

The engine light is on,” the van driver announced last summer.

He took it to the shop. The mechanics fixed a part.

The light stayed lit. He took it to a couple shops. Mechanics tried one thing and another to turn off the lights warning of something amiss with the engine. Just before a long trip, he poured some magic fluid in the engine and the light stayed off.

Four hours down the road, the dash lit up again.

Stopped at an auto supply store. Mechanic came with battery tester and declared, “No problem”

Back on the road with no light for many miles.

It came back. Asked another mechanic what needed to be done. Nothing showed up on the analysis. The light went on and off until the van arrived at the home of the out-of-state family and did not move again for the entire visit.

Heading home, the dash lit up with battery and brake warning lights glaring their red warning. Again, yet another mechanic found nothing to fix.

The engine did not care, it surged and faded in strength.

“It is not shifting gears right. The light is back on. …. and the engine sounds odd,” the driver mused just as the motor sighed and died.

The State Police stopped to help. Hood up, key in ignition, the car roared to life, determined to show it could take the folks home.

Shrugs, handshakes and down the road again for about ten minutes and again the van began losing energy. It rolled along sounding ominously ready to quit right in the middle of Nowhere, with acres of farm land on either side.

“Oh, let’s just buy another car. This one has 317,000 miles. The CD player doesn’t play well. It has been in and out of the shop. It is time,” the co-pilot said.

The driver sighed. He really had hoped to get half a million miles before he traded vans. And it would only be a van trade. He had had four vans, all from the same company. He bought one of the first that the company built on this particular line. He replaced it with a red van from a car rental – purchased halfway through a trip when the first van finally died. A middle of the day collision with a drunk driver killed the red van at 350,000 miles. A gold van off Ebay replaced it for a couple years to be replaced with the silver van from a used car dealership.

As the silver van struggled to keep up its speed through farming country, it passed a crop of cars, a car dealership in the middle of the fields of Nowhere.

“We could stop there and have them look at the van.”

“Wrong company….. but they might have a van,” he said, his eyes searching for a van from “the right company.”

One van. White. Four years old. Working condition with a DVD player! A short test drive, cell phone check of blue book prices and three hours of paper work.

The silver van would not start for the mechanic. They shrugged, “Your problem, not ours.”

It took a few minutes to clear the silver van’s storage compartments, scoop up suitcases, audio books and trip detritus to transfer to the white van. Neither shed a tear for the silver van’s thousands of miles of service. Instead, they quickly embraced the luxury of leather seats, DVD player, automatic doors, high tech radio and working CD player. As the co-pilot observed, “We sure didn’t waste any time thinking about replacing that old van did we?”

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Mr. R and the nursing home

No surprise. During a recent visit, Mr. R said, “You need to write a column about the impact on people entering a nursing home.” He already knew. Back in the 1980s Mr. R urged us to think about nursing homes for our parents. “I don’t want to start an argument, I just want to open a discussion,” he said.
We listened, talked and forgot about it. Ultimately, only one of the four needed residential care in their waning days. Two others stayed at home under Hospice and the third passed during a hospitalization for his chronic illness.
No surprise when Mr. R. became a chaplain for Hospice. He spent his days visiting the terminally ill. He knew the ins and outs of their problems, the duties of the staff and the needs of the family.
The surprise and irony came after Mr. R fell a couple times and suffered other problems. Testing, probing and analysis ended with a diagnosis of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. His body had begun to betray him as muscle responses slowed.
The diagnosis came about the time retirement should have meant many years surrounded by his children and grandchildren. His illness followed his wife’s diagnosis with a terminal blood disorder. Together they re-arranged their small home to accommodate their changing needs and abilities. As best they could, they took care of each other with help from their family.
Once a month they entered a nursing home to provide their children a week of respite care. The staff at the home took care of them, while their family caught up with errands, chores and rest.
Too soon, Mr. R attended his wife’s funeral in a rolling lounge chair. Shortly afterwards he moved into the nursing home to stay. The family sold his house and distributed most of his earthly goods. A few pictures and items moved with him into his new abode of one bed in one room of a nursing home.
We visited him recently. Propped up in the raised bed with pillows holding up his head, he admonished, “Write about all the things a person loses when they enter a nursing home: their dignity, their privacy, their independence,” We also heard an unspoken, “the loss of the physical health that mandated the need for the extra care.”
He went on to say, “There are gains from entering a home. For those living alone, the home provides companionship, social interaction, regular meals and a predictable medication regime.”
His comments faded and he changed the subject. “All I can move anymore are my fingers. I can lift them a little bit.” He slowly lifted a couple fingers off the bed. His arm and hand did not move.
It was not the outcome he anticipated 30 years ago when he began urging us to consider the benefits of the nursing home for our parents. He surely did not plan to be this young and in a home. From the beginning he has said, “We are on this journey together, and we are not going to be sad.”
So we visited him and we talked. When the conversation grew too serious, he said, “let’s talk about something less serious. What did you think about that election?”
We laughed and shared our observations. Mr. R may be confined to a bed, only able to call the nurse by blowing in a tube, but he remains as aware of the world as ever. That is one thing he has not lost – his enjoyment of life and the people he loves.

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Such talented (?) grandkids

Our grandchildren have impressive talents and insights. Take Sam, 6, he announced one morning, “Mom, did you know I can morning snore? I’m doing it right now!”
Another time he said, “I feel so good…because my armpits stink.”
That appalled his sister, Sophia,, “What! Why would that make him feel good?! Boys are so weird.”
She should know, she has two brothers.
According to their mom, Henry, 3, “Really wants to talk about time:”
When she urged him, “Come on, Buddy, let’s go” Henry replied, “In ten minutes” and held up five fingers.
This year the family purchased a season pass to Six Flags and went to the nearby park a number of times. Although the park is closed for the winter, Henry asks, “Mama, we go to Six Flags tomorrow?”
Mom shook her head, “No, Buddy, they aren’t open.”
Not understanding, Henry asked, “We go to Six Flags in two days?”
He wants to go back to Six Flags which won’t open until summer so since September his mom says he has been asking, “It’s the first day of summer?”
It’s going to be a long winter for his mother.
He also likes visiting his friend and often asks his mom, “We go to Frankie’s house today?”
Mom replied, “Not today Buddy.”
Henry looked up at her, “Not yet?!”
Asking once would be fine, but Henry repeats the same conversation over and over through the day.
He offsets his toddler obsessions at nap time when he asks “Mama, you sleep with me, you take a nap with me?”
She replies, “I’ll read you a book, and then I’m going to let you take a nap.”
Recently, the little charmer thought a moment and then asked, “Mama, you a princess?”
“I don’t know. Do you think I’m a princess?” his mamma asked.
“Prolly. Prolly you a princess, Mama,” Henry said and quickly added, “You sleep with me two minutes?”
His mother concluded, “How can I say ‘no’ to that?”
Sophia, 8, focuses more on food. She declared earlier this month, “My favorite eating season is Thanksgiving.” It is definitely not October when she assured her mother that she only went trick-or-treating “for the good exercise.”
In another city, grandson Elijah, 10, the only direct male descendant on his dad’s side, informed his parents that he is the family’s only hope to carry on the family name. Such a responsibility. It was, however, his first name that caught his attention after a recent Sunday School lesson. He hopped in the car and asked, “Why did they call Elijah a prophet? Wouldn’t he be more like a NON-profit? He didn’t make any money, did he?”
That one made his pun loving grandfather smile.
Elijah and his younger sisters help with chores around the house.
One night their mom said that Daisy and Caroline helped her cook and “tonight, Eli said, without prompting, ‘I want my chore to be clearing the table.’ He has never done this chore, but he did tonight, and it was a joy to work with him in the kitchen. Some days as a mom are utterly exasperating and exhausting, but those five minutes here and there are glorious. While I don’t want to say farewell to my kids’ childhood, those glimpses of maturity are so, so good.”
Evidently the feeling is mutual. Eli looked pensive during a family game of Old Maid. His mom noticed and asked, “What are you thinking about?”
“Oh, just thinking about how much I like my life.”
Just another kid’s passing remark about a time of life full of wonder, discovery and developing conversational skills.

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Thank you for the Eureka moment

Eureka moments hit when a beloved item from the past appears at a yard sale, thrift store or Ebay. Overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude, some buyers can’t contain their excitement.
Recently a seller of vintage perfume posted a copy of a ‘thank you’ note sent to her, She said, “Letters like this makes it so worthwhile. This actually brought tears to my eyes. Bless her heart:
The letter began, “’Hello, I just wanted to tell you how pleased I am with my purchase. My beloved aunty wore this perfume every day of her young life. She has been gone 30 years.
“I then wore it everyday until they changed and cheapened the perfume. I have purchased a couple vintage perfumes since beginning to shop on Ebay two years and it’s never quite right. I saw your ad and thought the bottle and writing were spot on as well as the price.
“It’s better than the 70’s. Well, it’s perfect. Once I put it on my skin, I felt like me again. I never replaced my ‘my scent’ with anything close to what this perfume does for me. Thank you so much! I was so happy, I cried. Smell is very important, as I’m sure you know. I really wanted you to know my level of happiness and gratitude! Thank you, thank you. May you continue to be blessed in your business both in prosperity and in bringing joy to others. Cheers!”
Another seller said,“I love Ebay for linking people and their favorite memories. I knew nothing about this beer mug from the 1970’s, but thought someone would like it. Sure enough, the buyer (from Ohio) sent me this message:
“Hello! I just wanted to send you a quick note and thank you for this item. Not sure how much you know about the stein I purchased, but it was made at a local German pub where my husband and I are regulars. Back before our time going there, they used to have a man who would hang out at the restaurant and hand make these steins.
“That restaurant closed last week after nearly 50 years in business and my husband has been pretty sad about it. I bought this stein for him and it really lifted his spirits! Just wanted to let you know how much he enjoyed it. Thanks again!’”
That note blessed the seller who learned that their efforts did more than just help pay bills.
Selling on Ebay provides a great way to clear closets while bringing joy – as another seller discovered after she sold her vintage Dutch oven with frogs on it.
She wrote, “I listed it with a bit of reluctance, since it was one of my favorite display pieces. So you can imagine how happy I was when I received this note from the buyer:
“My mom is from Italy and this is her home now. She lost everything in the earthquake. We convinced her to come live with us. I had most of her frog collection already except her personal items like dishes and pots and pans! We were able to recover some of her pans and silverware with frogs on them, but not this pan. Thank you! You made her very happy and I get homemade cabbage soup in Pepe. She is cooking with it now.”
At a time of year when many verbally express their thankfulness for big and little things, consider writing a note to those who have similarly blessed your life and double the blessing right back at them.

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