A Sandpiper to Bring You Joy

Ekaterina Chernetsova (Papchinskaya)

Photo Credit: Ekaterina Chernetsova (Papchinskaya) via CC Flickr

There are some stories that are worth repeating..today’s story is one of them.

A year or so ago, I posted a story that I had come across simply called, “The Sandpiper.” Unbeknownst to me, the story that I published was one that had been copied and re-written by another person who wrongly took credit for it. Fortunately for me, the daughter of the real author, Mary Serman Hilbert, contacted me and told me the following…

“This story was written by my mother Mary Sherman Hilbert back in in 1978 and is copyrighted in the  US Library of Congress. It was published in Readers Digest in 1980. The story has been reprinted in over ten languages and made into two plays.

There are many plagiarized versions on the internet, including the one that has an MR. Peterson instead of Mrs. P. (Ruth Peterson) as the central woman, as you have posted here. Please read Snopes assessment here for accurate clarification of the story’s background: https://www.snopes.com/glurge/sandpiper.asp

My mother passed away New Years Day 2010 at the age of eighty-seven.

~ Leigh Hilbert, December 11th, 2017

Most people who have posted my mom’s story have had good intentions and had no way to know if it had been altered along the internet pathways.

There are a few correct versions online. I will post here the original version and you can maybe repost it.”

So, without further ado, here is the original, beautiful story of the Sandpiper…..

A Sandpiper to Give You Joy

by Mary Serman Hilbert

Several years ago, a neighbor related to me an experience that happened to her one winter on a beach in Washington State. The incident stuck in my mind and I took note of what she said. Later, at a writers’ conference, the conversation came back to me and I felt I had to set it down. Here is her story, as haunting to me now as when I first heard it:

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.

She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.

“Hello,” she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.

“I’m building,” she said.

“I see that. What is it?” I asked, not caring.

“Oh, I don’t know. I just like the feel of the sand.”

That sounds good, I thought and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. “That’s a joy,” the child said.

“It’s what?”

“It’s a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.”

The bird went glissading down the beach. “Good-bye, joy,” I muttered to myself,

“hello, pain,” and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.

“What’s your name?” She wouldn’t give up.

“Ruth,” I answered, “I’m Ruth Peterson.”

“Mine’s Windy.” It sounded like Windy. “And I’m six.” “Hi, Windy.”

She giggled. “You’re funny,” she said. In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on.

Her musical giggle followed me. “Come again, Mrs. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”

The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an ailing mother.

The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. “I need a sandpiper,” I said to myself, gathering up my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.

“Hello, Mrs. P,” she said. “Do you want to play?”

“What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.

“I don’t know. You say.”

“How about charades?” I asked sarcastically.

The tinkling laughter burst forth again. “I don’t know what that is.”

“Then let’s just walk.” Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. “Where do you live?” I asked.

“Over there.” She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter.

“Where do you go to school?”

“I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation.”

She chattered “little-girl” talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Windy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood even to greet Windy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding that she keep her child at home.

“Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Windy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.” She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.

“Why?” She asked.

I turned on her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” – and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?

“Oh, she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.”

“Yes, and yesterday and the day before that and – oh, go away!”

“Did it hurt?”

“Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself.

“When she died?”

“Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn-looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.

“Hello,” I said. “I’m Ruth Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.”

“Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in.”

“Wendy talked of you so much. I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please accept my apologies.”

“Not at all – she’s a delightful child,” I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. “Where is she?”

“Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you.”

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.

She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks she declined rapidly ” Her voice faltered. “She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?”

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman.

She handed me a smeared envelope, with MRS. P printed in bold, childish letters.

Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues – a yellow beach, a blue sea, a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:

A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY

Tears welled up in my eyes and a heart that had almost forgotten how to love opened wide. I took Wendy’s mother in my arms. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, “I’m so sorry,” I muttered over and over, and we wept together.

The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words – one for each year of her life – that speak to me of inner harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand – who taught me the gift of love.

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Things Kids Teach Us About Life

children

Photo Credit: USDA

Most of you who have been following my blog over the years, know that I am a Physical Education/Health teacher and a coach and have loved my job throughout the past 31 years. The one constant during those years have been the joy and excitement that I receive from my students. Their passion, zeal, and enthusiasm about life is contagious. This kind of positive atmosphere usually always uplifts my spirits, enlightens my soul, makes me smile. Every day of school is a new adventure..you never know what is going to happen…what will be said or what will be done by these young people. Usually, the younger they are, the funnier things happen.

So, it should be no surprise, that one of the things that I enjoy posting from time-to-time are some of the silly, hilarious, and downright goofy things that kids do…and sometimes teach us. Such is the case with today’s article. The following is a collection of some of these kinds of things. I hope that these bring a smile to your face and a chuckle to your heart. Hey! You may even learn some things about ceiling fans today as well 🙂


Play Dough and Microwave should never be used in the same sentence. …

Super glue is forever. …

No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can’t walk on water.

Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

DVD players do not eject PB&J sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.

Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving. …

You probably do not want to know what that odor is. …

Always look in the oven before you turn it on.

Plastic toys do not like ovens.

The fire department in Orlando, FL has an 8 minute response time.

The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earth worms dizzy.

The spin cycle on the washing machine does make cats dizzy.

Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite. …

A 3 year-old’s voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant. …

When you hear the toilet flush and the words “Uh-oh”, it’s already too late. …

Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it. …

A six year old can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36 year old man says they can only do it in the movies.

A magnifying glass can start a fire even on an overcast day.

A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2,000 sq foot house 4 inches deep.

Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a four year old.

If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a superman cape….

It is strong enough, however, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20 by 20 foot room. …

You should not throw baseballs up in the air when the ceiling fan is on. …

When using the ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit.

A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

The glass in windows (even double pane) doesn’t stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.


Have an AWESOME Day!

Aspire to Inspire.

18 Famous Quotes of Muhammad Ali

Ian Rensley

Photo Credit: Ian Rensley via CC Flickr

America and the world lost a great human being a few days ago at the passing of boxing legend, Muhammad Ali. Ali rose to prominence in the 1960’s and 1970’s when he not only became the world heavyweight boxing champion, but also became a advocate for peace and accepted people of all races, religions, and beliefs…despite proclaiming himself as a Muslim and giving himself over to the nation of Islam.

Ali was a unique sports figure. He not only was one of the top, well-known athletes of his time but he was also known around the world. Unlike many well-known athletes of today, he infused poetry, wisdom, and humor together to spread his message of peace and unity around the globe. His humorous quips are known around the globe.

So, in today’s blog, I decided to list some of Muhammad Ali’s famous quotes for you to ponder, think about, smile, and maybe, in some small way, apply to your everyday life!

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  1. To be a champion, you must believe that you are the best. If not, pretend you are.
  2. It is lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges.
  3. Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.
  4. It isn’t the mountain ahead of you that will wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.
  5. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
  6. It is hard to be humble when you are as great as I am.
  7. Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
  8. Impossible is not a fact. It is an option.
  9. Inside a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It is staying down that’s wrong.
  10. The man who has no imagination has no wings.
  11. I am the greatest, I knew that before I knew I was.
  12. Don’t count the days; make them count.
  13. Not only do I knock them down, I pick the round.
  14. I should be a postage stamp, that’s the only way I ever get licked.
  15. Last week, I murdered a rock, I injured a stone, hospitalized a brick, I am so mean, I make medicine sick!
  16. A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
  17. I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
  18. Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.

The Hilarious World of Cats!

Photo Credit: Fireflydaily.com

Photo Credit: Fireflydaily.com

I love cats! When I was a kid, we used to have many cats running, sleeping and playing around the house. Both of my parents really enjoyed having the critters around and my grandmother, who lived with us, loved them as one of her own grandchildren.

One of the funniest things I enjoy watching, are cats doing silly, funny, and surprising things. Sometimes, they make me laugh so hard that they make me cry. 

So, what I decided to do today was to share some of these funny gifs with you (gifs are small movies, that last a few seconds). I think that you will find yourself giggling and laughing at the silliness and stupidity of our furry friends.

So, without further ado, let the laughs, snickers, and giggles begin!!

And away we go!

Peek-A-Boo…I see you!

Itsy Bitsy spider…..

“I’m a monster!”

“Has anyone seen Kitty?”

King of the Hill!

“Ok….enough of you Psycho cat!”

Stop Thief!

What the ?????

“Wait….what was that??”

Hit the SNOOZE button

Geronimo!

Houston…we have lift off!

HA! HA! HA!

The Birth of a Brother – Through the Eyes of a Seven-Year-Old

Photo Credit: Carissa Rogers via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Carissa Rogers via CC Flickr

I have been a teacher for 30 years and one of the great things about my profession, is that you never know what might happen each day when I come to school. So, it is with much amusement, that when I find (or experience) something funny, I enjoy sharing it with others.

So it is with today’s story. It is told from the perspective of a veteran teacher during one of her “Show and Tell” sessions which she had in her class on a weekly basis.

Enjoy!


I’ve been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second-grade class a few years back.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater. She holds up a snapshot of an infant. “This is Luke, my baby brother, and I am going to tell you about his birthday. First, Mommy and Daddy made him a symbol of their love, and then Daddy put a seed in my mother’s stomach. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.” She’s standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I’m trying not to laugh and wishing I had a video camera rolling. The kids are watching her in amazement.

“Then, about two Saturdays ago, my mother starts going, “Oh, oh, oh!” Erica puts her hand behind her back and groans. “She walked around the house for, like an hour, “Oh, oh, oh!” Now this kid is doing this hysterical duck-walk, holding her back and groaning. “My father called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn’t have a sign on the car like the Domino’s man. They got my mother to lay down in bed like this.” Erica lies down with her back against the wall. “And then, POP! My mother had this bad of water she kept in there just in case she got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like pssshhheeeww!”

The kid has her legs spread and with her little hands is miming water flowing away. It was too much!

Then the middle wife starts going push, push, and breath, breathe. They start counting, but they never even get past 10. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered with yucky stuff they said was from the play-center, so there must be a lot of stuff inside there.”

The Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I’m sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, if it’s Show-and-Tell Day, I bring my camcorder – just in case another “Middle Wife” come along.

How to Wash A Cat

Photo Credit: Laurence Simon via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Laurence Simon via CC Flickr

Put both lids of the toilet up and add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl…

  1. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry it towards the bathroom.
  2. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close the lid. You may need to stand on the lid.
  3. At this point, the cat will self agitate and make ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this!
  4. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a “Power-Wash” and “Rinse”.
  5. Have someone open the front door of your home. For the safety of everyone around, be sure that these are no people between the bathroom and the front door.
  6. Stand well back, behind the toilet as far as you can and quickly lift the lid.
  7. The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he will dry himself off.
  8. Good news!! Both the cat and the toilet will be sparkling clean!!

Yours Sincerely,

The Dog

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I hope these directions brought a little smile to your face, a giggle to your heart, and laughter to your soul!!!