It has always been fascinating to me how strong and fervent the power of love can be. It can make the simplest and humblest individual into a person who is incredibly courageous, strong, and brave…especially in the time of harm and danger.
Such is the story that you will read today. I can’t help but think…how many people would have the determination, love, and bravery that this man, husband and son had when his life was at one of its darkest depths? It makes you think….
In March 2001, Japan got hit with the most devastating and deadly Tsunami’s that have ever hit the country. Millions of people lost their homes, businesses, belongings, etc., and tens of thousands of people either were injured or lost their lives.
One of the towns that was struck was named Ishinomaki where a man named Hideaki Akaiwa was working in his home.. Realizing his wife was trapped in their home, he ignored the advice of the emergency personnel and other professionals, who told him to wait for the army to arrive and help him with a search and rescue.
Instead, he found a wet suit, jumped in the furious water current…dodging cars, houses, and other kinds of debris that was being dragged around and carried away by the current…any of which could have killed him instantly. He navigated the now submerged streets in the pitch dark, freezing water until he found his house.
Swimming inside, he discovered his wife alive on the upper level with only a small amount of breathing room and pulled her to safety. If he had waited for the army, his wife, of 20 years, would have been dead.
But Hideaki wasn’t finished. A short time later, he realized that his mother was also missing. So he jumped back into the water and managed to save her life as well.
Every day, for weeks after the tsunamis struck, Hideaki got into the water on one-man search and rescue missions, saving countless lives. This proved that two natural disasters in a single day…and insurmountable odds…can’t stand in the way of love.
A little while ago, I read the following story that made me sit back and think about the incredible power of love and the importance of making it our goal to make a beautiful thing, last for a lifetime. We have to change our mindsets to a more positive focus…we need to WANT to achieve a goal instead of HOPING that it might happen.
I hope you enjoy this story…
While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life-changing experiences that you hear other people talk about -the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away from me. Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jetway, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags.
He stopped right next to me to greet his family. First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!”
Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son’s face in his hands said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug.
While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father.
The man said, “Hi, baby girl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment.
After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing.
He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed. “I love you so much!” They stared at each other’s eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands. For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t possibly be.
I puzzled about it for a moment then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me.
I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?” “Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those.” he replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked the man finally turned and looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile.”Two whole days!”
Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he’d been gone for at least several weeks – if not months. I know my expression betrayed me, I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!”
The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked me straight in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope, friend… decide!” Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, “God bless!” With that, he and his family turned and strode away together.
I was still watching that exceptional man and his special family walk just out of sight when my friend came up to me and asked, “What’cha looking at?” Without hesitating, and with a curious sense of certainty, I replied, “My future!”
Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.
He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.
He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times.
The King’s 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her!
One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, “I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I’ll be all alone.” Thus, he asked the 4th wife, “I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No way!”, replied the 4th wife, and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.
The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, “I have loved you all my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No!”, replied the 3rd wife. “Life is too good! When you die, I’m going to remarry!” His heart sank and turned cold.
He then asked the 2nd wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you’ve always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?” “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time!”, replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can only send you to your grave.” Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.
Then a voice called out: “I’ll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go.” The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said, “I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!”
In truth, we all have 4 wives in our lives: Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.
Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.
Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.
And our 1st wife is our Soul, which is often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. So cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us who will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity. When the world pushes you to your knees…..You’re in the perfect position to pray.Think about this… Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days? But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than to our own family, an unwise investment indeed, don’t you think? And we often treat strangers and co-workers better than members of our family.
Have you hugged and loved your family today and told them that you love them? If not, what are you waiting for?
The love of a family is life’s greatest blessings!
I recently came across a heartwarming story written by Charles Rogers, that I thought would be a beautiful tale to share. It shows us once again, how sometimes, despite millions of people that celebrate Thanksgiving each year, there are still untold numbers of people that are lonely and hurting.
But it can also be a time of sharing and helping others…and sometimes, one act of kindness can have an impact on someone’s life that could last a long time!
There was a time when old-time Canarsien Ned Caro, who is now 85, celebrated Thanksgiving Day just like the rest of us: with turkey and trimmings and family, and even giving a friendly toast to those pilgrims of long ago. Thanksgiving was a happy event – then.
However, things changed two years ago when his wife of sixty years passed away. “Things will never be the same,” he said, rightfully in the depths of depression. The loneliness was almost unbearable, but Ned knew his religion would see him through. “The Lord has a way of helping people like me,” he said. “I know it now because of what He did for me.”
A long time ago, Ned was the owner of a popular bar at the corner of Rockaway Parkway and Glenwood Road, right in the heart of Canarsie, so he was used to listening to stories (“It goes with the job,” he would say). He was also used to telling stories (“That went with the job too, if you came into my place,” he added).
He then proceeded to tell his Thanksgiving story, preceding it with the notation that his late wife’s name was Rose. “Rosie,” he called her.
“My beautiful Rosie was kinda sick about six or seven years ago,” he said. “She was in her seventies and I was almost eighty and getting around wasn’t too easy, so we were getting Meals on Wheels at the time.
“Well, one day the Meals on Wheels person delivered the food and Rosie opened the Styrofoam containers the lunch was packed in and found a note in one of the boxes from the person who packed them, a six-year-old girl by the name of Erin Cohen from West-chester. The note said, ‘Whoever receives this box…please write to me. I am six years old and I would like to hear from you and I will write back.'”
Ned said Rose was “happily surprised” and sat down and read the note over and over, finally saying to him, “I think I’ll write to her.”
Rose took up her pen and note paper and sent off a thank you note to six-year-old Erin Cohen of Westchester, telling her who she and Ned were, where they were from and few insignificant details. She didn’t necessarily feel she’d get a reply, but nevertheless, she asked for one.
“And don’t you know? An answer came the very next week,” Ned said. “Rose was as pleased as she could be and that very night she sat down and answered the nice letter she got from Erin. She told her about me and our son and about how things were here in Canarsie. You know. All the basic stuff.”
She sent off the letter and nervously waited to see if the youngster would continue the correspondence.
Needless to say, she did, and sent along a photo of herself, leading to more exchanges and, eventually, a few phone calls.
Unfortunately, they never met face-to-face, though. According to Ned, the drive was “just too much” for him to try. And Erin’s parents – her father, Lawrence, is a veterinarian and her mother, Diane, an interior decorator- couldn’t make it either. Both parties promised they’d get together “soon”…and the time just went…
On March 27, 2004, at the age of 79, Rosie passed away. Ned was devastated, and, after a reasonable period, called Erin’s parents, telling them, “I really don’t know how to tell Erin that her corresponding friend is gone.” They said they would take care of it for him.
“And what do you think if I continue the correspondence from now on?” he asked.
“That would be wonderful!”
In the summer, as Ned and Erin wrote to each other, Erin’s father invited Ned to join them for dinner at a restaurant near Canarsie where he met Erin, now 12 years old.
“We talked for hours and really hit it off,” he said, excitedly. “We had a beautiful day together.”
As time went on, Ned met with the family every now and then for lunch or dinner on a weekend.
Last September, the family sent him a special invitation to Erin’s bat mitzvah, which he had to turn down.
“I don’t drive now,” Ned answered when they called him.
“I’ll pick you up, take you to our house in Westchester and take you home,” said Mr. Cohen. “How would that be?”
“Just about perfect,” was the answer.
“The story doesn’t end there,” Ned Caro said. “Hopefully, the story will continue for a long, long time because this year they invited me to come to share Thanksgiving dinner with their whole family. This year Thanksgiving will be something special to remember. Again they’ll pick me up and take me home. I mean, last year I was pretty lonely, but this year – especially at this time of year – I’ll break bread with Erin and my ‘other’ family. It’ll be almost like it used to be.