My father was completely lost in the kitchen and never ate unless someone prepared a meal for him. When Mother was ill, however, he volunteered to go to the supermarket for her. She sent him off with a carefully numbered list of seven items.

Dad returned shortly, very proud of himself, and proceeded to unpack the grocery bags. He had one bag of sugar, two dozen eggs, three hams, four boxes of detergent, five boxes of crackers, six eggplants, and seven green peppers.

Fine With Me

A state trooper stopped a Congressman for going 15 miles over the speed limit.

After he handed him a ticket, the Congressman asked, “Don’t you give out warnings?”

“Yes, sir,” he replied. “They’re all up and down the road. They say, ‘Speed Limit 65.'”


The classified ad said, “Wanted: CEO needs a one-armed consultant with a social sciences degree and five years of experience.”

A man who wanted the job asked, but failed the requirement asked “I understand most of the qualifications you required, but why ‘one armed’?”

The CEO answered, “I have had many consultants, and I am tired of hearing with each advice the phrase ‘on the other hand.'”

Dropping A Line

Before the ’60s, most teenagers used self-control.

Practice courtesy. You never know when it might become popular again.

What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.

I try to lose weight, but it keeps finding me.

A hundred men may make an encampment, but it takes a woman to make a home.

Whenever buying a gift for a couple celebrating their 60th anniversary, buy them something they will use right away.

I know that you’re nobody’s fool, but maybe someone will adopt you.

A perfect example of minority rule is a baby in the house.

The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.

If something goes without saying, let it!

Regular naps prevent old age, especially if you take them while driving.

I figured out a way to slow down inflation. Turn it over to a government worker!

The only one of your children who does not grow up and move away is your husband.

MASS Hysteria

IBM has been trying to increase market share by recruiting to more obscure markets for Internet access. They’ve even attempted to get monasteries connected to the Internet. At one small monastery in France, the monsignor, Father Jean-Paul, was not interested in getting access to the Internet, but one monk, Brother William, tried to persuade him. As an additional incentive, IBM even offered to give them free access for one year. The Father finally agreed but only under strict conditions that the monk would only use the Internet for biblical research.

Brother William started using the Internet and became amazed at the amount of information available. He downloaded texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls and biblical commentaries, and he talked with people who studied the ancient Greek and Hebrew languages. Father Jean-Paul was impressed with the research done and the amount of information available, but he continued to warn Brother William about the temptations of the Internet.

Well, Brother William continued his research, and soon he became a bit of an authority himself on biblical matters. Soon, people were e-mailing him for information on the Bible and spiritual matters. He would answer their questions and even set up his own “Dear Monk” Web site. He even started sending out weekly heartwarming stories about how God was working in people’s lives. Eventually he noticed that many people kept asking the same questions over and over, so he created a little booklet of frequently asked questions about God. But now Brother William had a dilemma. He knew that according to human nature, people value information more if they have to pay for it, but he had taken a vow of poverty and did not want any money. So, he decided to set up charity fund for widows and orphans, and all proceeds from his booklets would go to charity. So Brother William set up an Internet business where people would order one of his booklets, and he would send it to them after they sent a small amount of money to the charity fund.

When Father Jean-Paul discovered what Brother William had done, he discharged him immediately from the monastery. It seemed that the Father did not like his monk e-business.

Spell Bound

Kathryn’s 5-year-old developed a strong interest in spelling once she learned to spell STOP. After that, she tried to figure out her own words. From the back seat of the car she’d ask, “Mom, what does FGRPL spell?”

“Nothing,” Kathryn said.

Sitting at breakfast she’d suddenly ask, “Mom, what does DOEB spell?”

“Nothing,” Kathryn answered.

This went on for several weeks. Then one afternoon as they sat coloring in her room she asked, “Mom, what does LMDZ spell?”

Kathryn smiled at her and said, “Nothing, sweetheart.”

The 5-year-old carefully set down her crayon, sighed and said, “Boy, there sure are a lot of ways to spell Nothing!”

Thoughts Of Dying

When I discovered my first gray hair, I immediately wrote to my parents:

“Dear Dad and Mom, You saw my first steps. You might want to experience this with me too.”

I taped the offending hair to the paper and mailed it.

My father’s response was in the form of a poem:

It’s a trustworthy observation
That nothing can compare
In the process of aging
With finding the first gray hair.

He signed off with this observation:

“That gray hair you sent is not the first one you gave us!”

Q: What did the judge say when the skunk walked in the court room?
A: Odor in the court.

Q: What did the janitor say when he jumped out of the closet?
A: Supplies!

Q: Why do fish live in salt water?
A: Because pepper makes them sneeze!

Q: What word is always spelled wrong in the Dictionary?
A: Wrong.

Q: Where do boats go when they get sick?
A: The dock.

Q: What did the lawyer name his daughter?
A: Sue.

Mysterious Ways: Safe Keeping

Barbara Mills stood before her safety-deposit box at the bank, a small gold case held gently in her hands. She ran her fingertips across the initials engraved on its face: S.L.M. What was it about this tarnished antique, no bigger than a pocket watch? A gentle press on the catch and the top sprung open to reveal a flat, heart-shaped perfume bottle with a glass stopper. Holding it, Barbara felt overcome by a feeling she couldn’t understand. Both great happiness and great sadness at the same time. Joy and sorrow.

The gold case and its hidden bottle had been a nice surprise when Barbara first discovered it on the “Everything Fifty Cents” table at the antique store near her home in Johnson City, Tennessee. It didn’t appear terribly valuable, but she felt drawn to it, powerfully so, as if the gold case might hold a secret bigger than a hint of perfume.

S.L.M. They were the same initials as Barbara’s little daughter, Susan, three years old. Maybe that was why the trinket felt so precious. Susan was too young for perfume, but one day, when she was ready, Barbara decided she would give it to her.

For now, the safety-deposit box would keep it safe. Barbara turned the key and tucked the box away. Her sixteenth birthday, she thought. That’s when I’ll give it to her.

Barbara didn’t think about the perfume case again until two years later. She volunteered one weekend to model for a friend’s fashion show at a dress shop in town. The shop was crowded. Barbara moved to make room for a woman putting on lipstick at the mirror. Her gaze fell on the initials on the woman’s purse. S.L.M.

“Those are my daughter’s initials too,” Barbara said. The women talked, and Barbara mentioned the perfume case. “I’m saving it for her for when she’s older. I couldn’t pass it up at the antique store.”

The woman’s eyes went wide. “Is it a gold case?” she asked. “With a heart-shaped bottle inside?”

Barbara felt an echo of that strange feeling again, sorrow and joy. “How did you know?” she said.

“It was mine once.” The woman’s voice warmed at the memory. “A gift from my father. Seeing my initials engraved made me feel so loved. I lost it in the estate sale after my parents’ death. I hated to think of it out there in the world, unloved by anyone.”

The joy faded from the woman’s face. Happy and sad, thought Barbara. Just like I felt when I first saw it. But she doesn’t have to be sad anymore.

“You must take it back,” Barbara said. “It belongs with you.”

“What’s your little girl like?” the woman asked.

“My Susan is wonderful,” Barbara said. She couldn’t help herself from grinning as she thought of her redheaded daughter with the big brown eyes and unforgettable smile. “She just started kindergarten. She loves horses, bike-riding, her friends at school and her big brother, Brad, most of all. Last night I sent him to his room for playing ball in the house. Susan slipped him notes under the door all night so he wouldn’t feel bad. She always does that. Brad calls them Susie’s love letters.”

The joy on the woman’s face returned. “Your little S.L.M. can keep the case,” the woman said. “It couldn’t have a better home than with a girl like that.”

Barbara was so moved by the encounter that the next day she took Susan to the safety-deposit box to show her the case and tell her the story behind it. “When I’m old enough I’ll love it just as much as that lady did,” Susan vowed. She pulled out the glass stopper and pretended to dab perfume behind her ears.

Barbara could almost see the woman Susan would grow up to become: same thoughtful brown eyes, same radiant smile, ready to take on the world. The case couldn’t have a better home. “For your sweet sixteen, it will be yours,” she promised. Once again Barbara locked the case away for safekeeping.

There it waited, while Susan grew older. At 10 years old, she was a vivacious fifth grader, taking horseback-riding lessons, playing on the tennis team and excelling in school. So her mother was concerned one evening when Susan said she was too tired to do her homework. She realized Susan had been feeling tired a lot lately, and often had headaches. Barbara took her to the doctor, who performed a number of tests. Probably growing pains, she thought, or too many activities.

But when she returned to discuss Susan’s test results, the doctor was grave. “Mrs. Mills,” he said, “we believe that your daughter has a brain tumor.”

Susan faced new rounds of tests, and then a risky surgery. The findings weren’t good. “The tumor is both malignant and inoperable,” the doctor explained. “I’m very, very sorry. I’m afraid we can’t do much for her.”

Barbara’s world seemed to crumble around her. She will never be sixteen, she thought, her heart breaking. But Susan was brave. Barbara marveled at how a girl so young could go on with such devastating news. As long as she had days left, Susan intended to use them.

Barbara took Susan down to the bank. “You’ve grown up so much,” she said to her daughter as she unlocked the safety-deposit box. “I think you’re ready now.”

Susan squeezed the case with excitement. “Can I pick out my own perfume to go inside?”

“Any scent you want,” Barbara said.

Susan showed the prized possession first to her brother, Brad, then to everyone. “When Mom saw my initials on it she knew I was meant to have it,” she told her friends. She dabbed a little perfume behind her ear, for real this time. The doctors and nurses at her treatment sessions admired her spirit and fell in love with her. Everyone loved the little girl with the big brave heart.

Susan died at the age of 13. Barbara felt almost as if she had died with her daughter. Susan had loved her little antique case until the end, often holding it during treatments, yet now the case was only a reminder of sorrow.

Still, Barbara couldn’t bear to part with it. No, not yet. She returned the case to the bank, touching the initials S.L.M. one last time before closing the safety-deposit box, again flooded with that dual emotion, great happiness and great sadness. I’m done with the happiness, she told herself. Now I’m meant to feel the sadness.

The family went on with their lives as best they could. Susan’s big brother, Brad, grew into a man his sister would have been proud of. He graduated from college and became a pharmacist. He dated a number of girls over the years without getting serious. Then one day he told Barbara that he wanted her to meet someone special, a girl named Sara.

Sara was everything Barbara had hoped for her son: strong, good-hearted and loving. Barbara was thrilled when Brad confided he was going to propose, and ecstatic when Sara said yes.

One evening Brad called and described the wedding invitations that he and Sara had ordered. Barbara doodled on a notepad as Brad read off the invitation to her, “…to the wedding of Bradley Mills and Sara Wesley Lincoln. The date is written out underneath.”

Barbara jotted down the names, imagining how the invitations would look: Sara Lincoln. Sara Mills. Sara… “Sara Lincoln Mills!” she cried. “That will be Sara’s name!”

“Of course,” said Brad, puzzled.

The night before her wedding, Sara Lincoln received a gift from Barbara. Something to show her that she was much more than a daughter-in-law; she was a daughter. The perfume case with the heart-shaped bottle. “It’s an antique,” Sara said, turning it over in her hands. “But with my initials! Did you have it engraved?”

Then Barbara told Sara the story, and her heart filled with a now-familiar emotion—great happiness and great sadness mixed together as one. The feeling that she had had when she first held the antique gold case in her hands, the assurance that in our joys we are uplifted and in our sorrows we are comforted, and that always we are held in the most loving hands of all.  


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