Through the Mist

Once upon a time there was a lonely island, shrouded in mist, and a very young girl lived there all alone. She did not know how she came to be there.  She did not know why she was alone.  She did not even know that she should wonder about these things.  She only knew that palm fronds made the most comfortable bed, that the tide pools were the easiest place to catch fish, and that the fruit from the treetops was delicious but would make you sick if you ate too much at once.  She called the water “shisha” because that was the noise it made; she called the cave where she went when it rained “emmma” because that was how she felt when she sat there; and she called herself Claire, but if there was a reason for that name she did not know what it was.

Claire was not sad or afraid all alone on the island, but every evening as the sun was sinking into the mist, she would walk along the shore and feel the waves lapping at her toes and the mist softly touching her face and the heaviness in her heart that she did not understand.  It was at just this time of day that she found the first dream.   Floating up out of the mist, it bumped to a stop on the sand at her feet.  It was about the size of her two hands put together, half filled with water, hard like a rock, but she could see right through it.  Something about the curvy shape and the perfect circle at the top fascinated her.  When the last rays of the sun caught it and made it sparkle, she could not look away.  She had never seen anything like it before, but she knew it was a dream because it felt just like the things she saw when she was asleep.

After that first time, Claire found many more dreams.  Some were large, like the heavy box that she could not lift, and some were very small, like the tiny pink circle she found buried in the sand.   (That one was no bigger than her baby finger and had two tiny holes in the center.)  Some were colorful, like the flat picture of the setting sun, and some were dull, like the floppy gray tube.  Some were useful, like the long strands knotted together to form a perfect web for catching fish, and some had no use that she could see, like the soft brown hollow hand.  (What use was a hand without an arm to move it?)  But all of the dreams were fascinating and wonderful.  Claire gathered them all in the cave she called emmma and each had its own special place.  Even if she took one out to use it for carrying water or catching fish, she would always lovingly return it each evening.  Claire spent many happy hours sitting in her cave and looking with wonder at all her dreams.  Her favorite was one of the smallest.  It was a circle about the size of her hand.  One side was a dull green color, but the other side…the other side was magic.  It showed a tiny reflection of her face, just like her face in the creek but perfectly clear and still.  Claire never got tired of holding that dream in her hand and studying the girl who looked out of it.

From the day that Claire found that very first sparkling dream, the pattern of her days was changed.  She still walked the misty shores each evening and watched the sun slowly dissolve into darkness, but now instead of a heaviness in her chest, she felt a faint thrill, never knowing when a new dream might come floating up to meet her.  And each night she spread her palm fronds in the shelter of the cave and fell asleep surrounded by a world of treasures.

And then one day the ship came.

Claire did not see it, anchored among the waves and shrouded in clouds, but for the first time ever, she heard the voices of men on the shore.  Drawn by a curiosity that knew no reason for fear, she left her breakfast and went to investigate the sound.  On the beach, she saw a small boat and two men securing it on the sand.  By this time, Claire was so used to magical gifts appearing through the mist that she did not even feel the shock you would imagine.

The men, on the other hand, were quite surprised.  Their ship had been damaged in a storm and they had wandered some time in the mist and clouds before hearing the waves breaking on this island.  These two had come to shore only to find fresh water for the crew and some trees for repairs to the ship.  The last thing they expected to find was a girl, all alone and apparently unable to speak.

They were good men, the Captain and his first mate, but they did not know what to do.  At first they offered her some of the bread from their food bag, but she just smiled and did not eat.  The Captain tried to ask her who she was and how she got there, but she just smiled and said nothing.  Then the first mate took out a coil of rope, and the girl’s face lit up.  Pointing first to the rope and then toward the cliffs behind her, she danced around, laughing.  The Captain and his first mate couldn’t help but smile to see her.  But she clearly wanted something more than just to dance.  When nothing else worked, she grabbed the Captain’s hand and tugged him toward the cliffs.  Finally understanding, the men followed her.

When the Captain and the first mate saw Claire’s cave of treasures, they did not know what to say.  Bits of cast off trash sat everywhere.  An empty bottle held small pieces of broken glass.  A child’s button rested in the palm of a worn leather glove.  A ragged fishing net was draped over some rocks.  Each piece was nothing more than rubbish, but somehow the whole was something beautiful.  And most beautiful of all was the face of the girl who had created it, glowing with pride to show her collection of dreams to her new friends.

Using her hands to show her meaning, Claire asked the men if they had come from the same magical land as her dreams.  They showed her their boat and said that they had come from the other side of the water.  Claire’s face showed the Captain plainly that she imagined the world outside her walls of mist as a place of beautiful enchantment.  That night, he sat up all through the darkest hours and thought about what he should do.  He had intended, of course, to take her back to the civilized world.  But that was before he had seen her dream cave.  He thought of her in a place where the beauty of dreams was lost in a dull reality, where wonderful things were thrown away as worthless.

And so it was that when Claire woke up the next morning and left her cave, she found the beach empty and the boat gone.  No traces were left of her friends from the day before except for a coil of rope lying on the beach.  Claire picked up the rope and smiled as she felt it slide through her fingers.  She did not feel disappointed that her friends were gone.  She accepted that some things come and go with the tides.  If the magic on the other side of the mist had sent her friends once, it might do so again.  And if not, there would be other dreams.  Claire carried the rope back to her cave and added it to her collection.

And it may have been, though this story does not tell, that some time later in the fall of the year a small boat parted the clouds and a young captain landed alone on the island alone with nothing but a chest full of dreams to start a new life.

The Day Papa Met Gramma

Editor’s note:  Today is my dad’s birthday, and low and behold he gives ME a present.  This was my favorite story growing up.  I’m so happy to be able to share it with my kids…and all of you!

Oh what a special day !  Of course, I didn’t know it was going to be so special when the day started out.  It was just like every other day:  I got up to go to class at the college I was attending; then I went to work; then I went back home to have dinner and rest for awhile so that I could then go back to college to attend a night class that I had to take.

You see, just a few months before this day I was released from duty with the US Marine Corps and had gone back to college to study business.  But because I got out of the Marines too late to get all the classes I needed I had to take a class in US History at night.   My sister, Sharon, had agreed to take the class with me, since she was trying to get her college education too.

Being a young man of only 23 years, and not married, I would flirt with all the girls in class, trying to get to know them, and asking them out on dates.  This particular night I was sitting in the first seat at the head of a row of desks waiting for the teacher to come in and start teaching.  My sister was sitting in the first seat on the row of desks next to mine so I was turned sideways talking to her when I noticed this blond girl sitting behind her.  At first I started to speak to the blond girl, but then I noticed sitting behind me another girl.  So I turned all the way around and just looked at her right in the eyes…and she just stared right back at me in my eyes.  I didn’t say anything and neither did she but we just kept staring at each other.

Pretty soon the teacher came in and started to teach, but there I sat with my back to him, staring into that girl’s eyes.  We must have stared at each other for 5 or 10 minutes (at least it seemed like it to me), all the while the teacher just kept on talking.  Of course I didn’t have any idea what he was saying because I was so focused on that girl behind me.

When our class took a break for a few minutes, I went outside and right up to that girl I had been staring at.  The night before this my dad had given me a couple of tickets to an Elvis Presley concert (he was a famous singer that most girls loved back in those days).  So I thought this girl would be eager to out with me to hear him sing.  But the girl told me, “NO , thanks. I don’t like Elvis Presley at all !”  Wow. I didn’t know what to say because I had been so sure she would jump at the chance to go.  So I just found out where she worked during the day that her name was Kathy.  Then the class started again and we didn’t speak any more that night.

However, the next day I just couldn’t get Kathy out of my mind.  All through breakfast, then driving to college to go to class, and all during the classes I took my mind kept coming back to Kathy.  As I was driving home from class I thought, “Maybe I’ll just go by and see if I can find where she works.”  And I did.  Then just as I was going to pass her office I thought, “Maybe I’ll just go in and see if she’s there today.”  And I did.

When I walked in the door there she sat behind the counter talking on the phone.  So I just sat down to wait.  Soon she hung up the phone and said, “Oh, Hi!  May I help you?”

Well, I hadn’t thought ahead of what I might say to her, so, with a smile on my face, I made up the first thing that came into my head.

“Yes,” I said, “As you know I’m taking business classes at the college and I’m doing some research for one of them.  I’m surveying all the secretaries in town to see if their employers give them time off for lunch.  Does yours?”

“Uhhhhh,  yeeessss, “ Kathy said a little suspiciously.

“And how much time does he give you for lunch?”  I asked

“Uhhhhh, 30 minutes” she said even more suspiciously.

“And what time does your lunch hour start?”  I asked innocently, but with an even bigger smile.

“11:30” replied Kathy.

“Fine I’ll be back to pick you up then.” I said now grinning.  Then before she could say Yes or No I turned and walked out, got in my car, and drove off.

I had no idea whether she would go with me when I came back, or whether she would even be there.  But I came back at 11:30 and, to my great delight, she was ready and willing to have lunch with me.  We went to Love’s restaurant, where I first asked her, “What is your last name anyway?”  and where we talked and talked, AND where we made plans to go out in the evening.

Well, we saw each other practically every day after that for weeks on end.  And a couple of months later we decided to get married.  And, as I am  writing this, we have been married for 39 wonderful years, have had two beautiful children that we named David and Deborah, and five marvelous grandchildren named Katie, Josh, Ellie, Scott, and Luz.

We are sooooooo blessed !!!