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More important than money?

  1. salus

    420 posts.
    THREE RED MARBLES

    During the waning years of the depression in a small southeastern Idaho community, I used to stop by Mr. Miller's roadside stand for farm-fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used, extensively.

    One particular day Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I'm a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and the ragged boy next to me.

    "Hello Josh, how are you today?" "H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas ... sure look good."

    "They are good, Josh. How's your Ma?"

    "Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time."

    "Good. Anything I can help you with?"

    "No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas."

    "Would you like to take some home?"

    "No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with."

    "Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?"

    "All I got's my prize marble here."

    "Is that right? Let me see it."

    Here 'tis. She's a dandy."

    "I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing it's blue and I sort of hoped
    for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?"

    "Not 'zackley .....but, almost."

    "Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble."

    "Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller."


    Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said: "There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps. And so it goes on." I left the stand, smiling to myself, mighty impressed with this kind man.

    A short time later I moved away but I never forgot the story of this gentleman, the boys and their bartering. Several years went by each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently though I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon our arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts ... very professional looking.

    They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling and composed, by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary, awkwardly wiping his eyes.

    Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket. "Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how much they appreciated the things Jim "traded" them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size... they came to pay their debt. We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world," she confided, "but right now, Jim would consider
    himself the richest man in Idaho."


    With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three magnificently shiny, red marbles.

    Moral: We won't be remembered by our words when we pass, but by our deeds. Life's not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath.












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