A cruel choice
Our mother took the three of us to Italy without Dad when I was 13. We stayed in a hotel with full board and went to the beach every day. It was quite wonderful and I don’t remember asking why Dad had not come. One day at lunch, we were sitting at a table, my younger brother and sister on either side of Mum and me opposite. She told us they were getting divorced: Dad was moving out to be with his new girlfriend and would probably want to take one of us to live with them.
My little brother put his hand on Mum’s arm and said: “Not me. I want to stay with you.”
My sister put her hand on Mum’s other arm and said: “He can’t have me, I am staying with you, too.”
Then all three silently looked at me. I felt for a horrid moment that they all hated me. But I was certain that Dad liked me a lot less than the other two. So I said: “Well, me, he won’t want.”
I wonder how my mother felt at that moment. We never talked about it again. In the end, he took none of us but he did take the dog, which hurt all of us kids the most.
Dance of freedom
My mother could have gone to university. She was a working-class London grammar school child and an avid reader. She loved rock music and was considered born out of her time. She got pregnant, aged 18, with me and married hurriedly in 1958. To her young eyes, my father had the look of Marlon Brando. “He was silent and broody and could look after himself,” she said. She was a romantic then.
My father drank and gambled. He used his wife as a punch bag. He burnt her records on the coal fire. She hid books under the settee cushions. We “begged” potatoes from the next door neighbours. They were bemused but generous.
I was 10 years old, one of six, and my youngest sibling was one. I came home from school one day and was met by my mother at the kitchen door. “I’m divorcing your father,” she said. She explained what this meant. Like a bird in first flight I was lifted up but without moving. We had a spontaneous dance around the kitchen. I still had my coat on. It was one of the highs of my childhood and family life.
I still see the pebble-effect vinyl on the kitchen floor when I remember. It was all, O Blessed Mother Mary, a welcome release.
All for the best
My parents split up when I was 10. I was getting ready for bed when they told me that they needed to talk to me. They said that they were separating, and that Dad would be moving out. I burst into tears, though I had expected this. It was the thought of our family splitting up that scared me. My dad moved into the spare bedroom for six months, then got an apartment. At times, I worried that he might stop visiting us and I cried for many nights, feeling so sad thinking about him alone in his apartment. But everything was more peaceful.
I felt relieved that their loud arguments wouldn’t happen any more. Ten years on, I’m so glad they were brave enough to make that decision. So many couples say that they stayed together for the sake of their children, but I think my parents’ separation made us all happier. By being true to themselves, they were proving their strength as parents. They knew that what they were doing was for the best. Now they can have amiable conversations and can reminisce fondly about the good times. It was the best decision for the family.
Milly Burke Cunningham
Birthday to remember
It was at my 11th birthday party in 1946. My mother had made the usual glorious cake and sandwiches. I had just passed the exams for grammar school and was enjoying my presents: a tennis racquet, school blazer and matching set of Conway Stewart pens together with a bunch of pink carnations and blue cornflowers.
My friends were waiting to light the candles on my birthday cake when, in the background, I heard an argument between my mother and father and my father’s friend.
He pushed my mother, I said, “Dad, don’t do that,” and he turned and slapped me across the face – the first time he had ever hit me. Then he announced he was leaving us (my mother and us four children) to go and live with Uncle Dick. The tea party broke up and Dad and Dick left.
For years I thought it was my fault and it took many more years to realise my father had left us for another man.
They made me laugh
My parents split up when I was six. I am nine now. I was downstairs watching television with my baby sister when my gran told me that my mummy and daddy wanted to speak to me. I thought it was going to be happy.
When I got to their room, they told me. They said it in the best way possible – though it doesn’t really matter how you say it, it will still be really sad. When I cried they hugged me and made me laugh by saying, “We’re still friends”, “Hi”, “Hello” and waved to each other.
After a few years, I got used to it and wasn’t as sad (but I’m still sad).
My daddy only lives a few roads away and we visit. We stay at his flat a lot and he comes over to our house almost every morning. My parents are always there if I want to talk and now they are happier and don’t fight often.
I really want them to get back together and it work out, but it is not that simple. We are all happy and love each other, which is the main thing.
Emily Harwell, aged nine
A change of plan
It was May 1974. My dad had been working in Canada for a year and my mum, my seven-year-old brother and I were due to emigrate and join him. I had just turned 12 and on this day my best friend was coming round to my house after school for tea.
As we entered the house I sensed an atmosphere. Mum hastily sent my friend away saying that she couldn’t stay as Dad was home. This was great news as I hadn’t seen him for a year. I was so excited but he just seemed subdued and quiet. Then they sat my brother and me down to talk. Mum said they were getting a divorce and that she wasn’t going to Canada. Then Mum asked who we’d like to be with.
I remember my answer: “We want to go to Canada.”
We’d been surrounded by the prospect of Canada for a year. We’d had our medicals and everything. It was all we talked about. What happened next was surreal. My mum jumped up and shouted hysterically that she’d had us for a year and now it was my dad’s turn. He could have us. She packed some stuff and left.
Life changed drastically. Dad sold our house, left us with my aunt and went back to Canada. He promised to send for us within a couple of months but two years later he announced he didn’t want us and so began another story.
A fait accompli
I was sitting on the back seat of a strange man’s car when my mother told me she was leaving my father. My mother was sitting in the front next to the man, who, it transpired, was her boss.
It was the school summer holidays. I was seven, had just left infant school and was about to enter the juniors. My brother was 11 and about to start grammar school. Big changes!
The day had started normally. My parents went to work as usual. I was in the care of Mrs Dicker, our cleaner-cum-childminder. My brother was spending the day with a friend. Around 11am, Mrs Dicker grumblingly walked me the mile back to our house.
My mother was standing on the pavement outside. Mrs Dicker was dismissed and I was taken round the corner to a spiffy black and red car. As we set off, I was told we were going on holiday to a farm in Cornwall. I liked holidays and farms, but didn’t like what followed.
Although I didn’t really understand what I was being told, I did understand that I wouldn’t be able to see my brother or my adored father every day, just at weekends. “I have to see Daddy every day. I just have to!”
I got off lightly. My brother and father found typed notes waiting on the mantelpiece when they came home unsuspectingly. I didn’t see these notes until my father died. They are chilling.
Our secret flit
Since 1939, we’d had a carpet shop in Huddersfield. In 1945 I was 14 and about to sit exams. I was off school for no reason I can remember, Rodney, seven, and Toby, six, being at home as well. Anne, 11, was at school. Dad came back from his lunchtime booze and went to sleep it off, as usual.
Then a lorry arrived in the back, driven by Fred, an acquaintance of mother’s friend Emmy. Everything happened very quickly. Worried, I asked what was going on.
“We are going to Emmy’s cottage in Bradford,” said Mum.
I was horrified, I didn’t want to leave Dad or school. “Go and get Anne from school,” she said.
The lorry was loaded with beds, clothes and stock from the shop, which mother felt was hers by rights.
Amazingly, Dad didn’t wake.
The cottage in Bradford was one-up, one-down, without kitchen, bathroom or hot water and an ancient outside lavatory. We had a bed in each corner, mother downstairs. We had left Dad before: he was an alcoholic – lovely and charming sober, dreadful when drunk.
This time we didn’t go back, but that night I wept. Mother, courageous and daring (there were no telephones to coordinate the flit), made a successful business selling rugs on Bradford and Knaresboro’ markets.
Cold comfort in Spain
I am 21, a 6ft strapping lad on a study year in Granada, Spain. I had been home at Christmas. All seemed normal. My flatmate in Granada, home too, stayed the night before we travelled back together to Spain. She is pretty and bubbly and my parents assume, incorrectly, that we are an item. Nothing is said. Much is left unsaid in our house.
We have to leave early in the morning and I go into my parents’ room to say goodbye. My father, whose last conversation with me about relationships was to ask if I felt a calling to the priesthood, whispers that I should take care not to get tied down too early.
It is spring 1976. Now I am waiting for my mother at Malaga airport, a flying visit. We chat on the bus and she asks if I remember Bob. I do, he was fun to be with: read comics, played keepy-uppy football.
We sit on the Balcón de Europa in Nerja. My mum announces, “Your dad and I are getting divorced and I am moving in with Bob. Your brothers have known since before Christmas.”
I cry as she consoles me.
I visit my mum and Bob in the summer. In the downstairs loo is a postcard from Nerja, from Mum to Bob, showing the Balcón. I turn it over and read the only two words: “Mission accomplished.”
Voices on the landing
I was lying in bed one night, drowsy and on the edge of sleep, yet half aware of my father just down the corridor, wallpapering the landing outside my brothers’ bedroom. He was talking quietly to my older brother. The gentle murmur of their voices lulled me into sleep. But then, suddenly, I was alert and wide awake as my father said, “I don’t love your mother any more.” There followed more ugly, jarring words to the effect that he loved someone else now instead of her.
This was how, aged 10, I learned of the split that was to come.
At first my brother and I bore the knowledge silently and separately. I sensed that he was burdened by the secret he had been entrusted with, and my heart ached for him. But I couldn’t admit to what I’d heard; this was too big, too frightening, and I feared that speaking about it might make it true and real. Also, I felt guilty for eavesdropping. Part of me hoped I had been dreaming but deep down I knew that I wasn’t, and within weeks things came into the open as matters escalated and our family world broke apart.
Name and address withheld
And then he was gone
I never was told my father was leaving my mother. But then neither was she. Nor was my brother. Nor sister. He just left after a “State of the Union Address” (or not) to my mother.
It was 1970 and I was five. I should have worked out something was afoot. My parents had been to Paris days before they split and returned, unusually, with a gift for each of us. My father assured me that my gift , a model of a Ferrari, had my age on it as its racing number. Much thought had gone into its selection. Really? When I ripped the wrapping paper off I discovered he thought I was eight. The moment of silence between my parents was, I suspect, the decision point. Well, for him at least. And it almost deafened me. I remember consoling my mother, telling her, “Dad can’t have left – he’s left all his clothes behind.”
He came to collect those shortly thereafter, along with his books, our furniture and, subsequently – but for a deft piece of legal manoeuvring by my mother’s QC in the divorce courts – the title deeds to our home. We remained, however.
I was a little surprised this week, therefore, to receive an invitation to help “celebrate” his 40th wedding anniversary to his second wife (albeit a charming lady). I turned it down, saying I would be busy with other things. Like cutting the grass. I now take more care with wrapped presents and expectations too.
Name and address withheld
Into the chasm
I can still see myself standing there. I remember it so clearly after more than five decades. I was 16, in the middle of my O-levels. I heard raised voices downstairs, so I came out of my room and peered over the banisters. In the hall below my father was crying. I had never seen him cry. My strong, glamorous father crying?
My mother was saying, “Just go.”
And he went. As easily as that. He never said goodbye.
This was catastrophic, a chasm opened beneath my feet. Eight months later I stopped eating and had a nervous breakdown. He came to see me in hospital but it was stiff and awkward. Our relationship never recovered and I often blamed my mother. Years later when I was fully recovered and married, we would invite him for meals but he never came. He never knew my children and I am sorry for that. They are too.
I have worked with children for many years and am often told by separating parents, “But it’s fine, the children are OK about it.” I wonder, really? Or are they still numb with shock and gazing into the chasm?
Cakes were a clue
I was 13 when Dad tried to tell me he was leaving Mum for another woman. He asked me if I knew who had been making the fruit cakes we had been eating over the last few months and I guessed correctly. Dad was impressed. “You’re very astute, kid,” he said.
In reality, I was totally confused.
“There comes a time when a working man needs his shirt ironed and a plate of food on the table,” he said.
He also said other, more emotional things that made his voice falter. I felt very important (my 11-year-old sister wasn’t the chosen confidante), but unsettled. Was Dad – a welder and a formidable force – wiping away a tear? I certainly didn’t understand what he was trying to say, even though, at this point, he had already moved out of our caravan and into the barn.
My parents’ separation and divorce were never discussed; it was the physical distance between Mum and Dad that defined their parting. First they sat at opposite ends of the table, not talking. Then Dad lived in the barn, and later a caravan in the farthest field of the farm. He eventually moved into a house an hour’s train journey away with the woman who made the fruit cake. Mum later sold the land and bought a home 300 miles north.
My parents were apart after 13 years together; yet their mutual respect and love for each other grew deeper, right up to Mum’s death this year.
Don’t tell your brother
When my mum and I left home 45 years ago, I was 11. She said one day, “We’re leaving your dad. Don’t tell anyone, not even your little brother. Just put any toys and books you really want to take in a pile over there.” I didn’t have a clue what was going on – 45 years ago, divorce was uncommon and no one I knew had divorced parents.
A few days later, she told me to let my teacher know she would be picking me up from school in the morning for a dental appointment. She collected me, leaving my little brother at school, and we went. She’d left a note on the kitchen table saying she was leaving and had made arrangements for my brother to be collected from school.
And that was it. We never had the big talk about how it wasn’t my fault and Mummy and Daddy both still loved us, let alone why she’d just taken me and not both of us.
She had arranged to stay with an old school friend, where we slept on camp beds for a couple of months. I don’t remember ever missing my dad, but I missed my little brother so much that first night.
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Kagan McLeod for Reader's DigestA SOLDIER’S SUPRISE
by Gail Litrenti-Benedetto, Park Ridge, Illinois
It is spring of 1943 during World War II. Standing among hundreds of new soldiers at Camp Grant, in Illinois, my father, Sam, just 18 years old, waits as a truck slowly drives by. A full field pack is randomly tossed to each soldier. “How strange,” my father thinks, as he sees his last name, Litrenti, marked on each item in his pack. “How did they know it was me when they tossed the pack?” He was impressed! Beating all odds, my father was tossed a field pack from World War I—his own father’s.
by Dan Rolince, Golden, Colorado
On a cool night lit only by the orange glow of fire, we rushed to my grandfather’s home as his decades-old barn burned to the ground. The firemen let us stand nearby as they pumped water from the creek a quarter mile away. We watched the barn go up in flames, which stirred memories of jumping off foot-wide wooden beams into the hay below. The real sadness came as my elderly grandfather, who did not get out of bed, quietly asked if his cows were safe. He hadn’t had dairy cows in a dozen years.
A MOTHER’S WISDOM
by Lori Armstrong, Kelseyville, California
I have always worn my children’s birthstones around my neck. One morning, when I was late for work, my infant son Larry’s topaz birthstone fell from my gold chain. I frantically searched for it, whispering to myself, “I lost my Larry, but I will get him back.”
That day, Larry’s cardiologist called with test results from one of his first checkups. He would need emergency heart surgery. Happily, the operation was a success, and I whispered in Larry’s ear, “I thought I lost you, but I knew I’d get you back.”
Kagan McLeod for Reader's Digest
THE GOOD DOCTOR
by Danica Helfin, Tifton, Georgia
Toto was a white dog with a small red tongue, and his stuffing was red as well. When his seams began to come apart beneath his knitted collar, it looked to my six-year-old eyes as though he were bleeding. That night, my father left for his shift in the emergency room with Toto wrapped in a blanket. The next day, Dad showed me the X-rays and Polaroid photographs of the
surgery. Beneath the bandage on Toto’s neck was a clean row of stitches. I still have the injury report! I love you, Dad.
A SMALL FORTUNE
by Ron Fleming, Fort Drum, New York
While walking across an open, grassy field, I became excited as my hand swooped toward the ground like an eagle attacking its prey. I picked up half of a $5 bill. I continued to walk around looking for the other half but thought to myself it would be impossible to find it on such a windy day. As I lifted my head, I spotted the other half of the bill tangled in crabgrass. Somehow, finding two halves of a ripped $5 bill felt better than working for a twenty.
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by Suzanne Cifarelli, Albany, New York
Don’t let her sleep in your bed.” That’s what I heard over and over after my daughter was born.
So I didn’t, unless she was sick. Now my baby is almost six, and every night, after we read and sing songs and turn off the light, I lie down with her before she falls asleep. We whisper to each other, and I watch her eyelids start to flutter. I smell her hair and kiss her forehead. And I wish I had done this every night.
by Angela Bradley-Autrey, Deer Park, Washington
I was four, playing outside in the humid Kentucky air. I saw my grandfather’s truck and thought, Granddad shouldn’t have to drive such an ugly truck. Then I spied a gallon of paint. Idea! I got a brush and painted white polka dots all over the truck. I was on the roof finishing the job when he walked up, looking as if he were in a trance.
“Angela, that’s the prettiest truck I’ve ever seen!” Sometimes I think adults don’t stop to see things through a child’s eyes. He could have crushed me. Instead, he lifted my little soul.
THE LONG LIFE OF ROOM 1108
by Laurie Olson, Dayton, Nevada
A long flight of weathered steps led to a hollow wooden door with rusty numbers beckoning us into room 1108. Inside, we barely noticed the lumpy bed, faded wood paneling, and thin, tacky carpet.
We could see the seashore from our perch and easily wander down to feel the sand between our toes. We returned again and again until the burgeoning resort tore down our orange-shingled eyesore. Forty years later, my husband periodically sends me short e-mails that declare the time: 11:08. “I love you, too,” I write back.
A Date With Fate
by Emily Page Hatch, Wilmington, North Carolina
In a kitschy bar in Cambridge, he asked to sit at my table, though later he would insist that I made the first move. I was intrigued by his tattoos. He thought I went to Harvard. All we had in common was that we’d both almost stayed home. Friends had dragged us out on a frigid February evening. We still never agree on anything, except that it’s a darn good thing we sucked it up that snowy night. Our wild blue-eyed son always stops us in our tracks, reminding us that fate is just as fragile as our memory.
Kagan McLeod for Reader's DigestPERFECT DAY
by Marybob Straub, Smyrna, Georgia
We went looking for a wedding dress on Sunday. Laughing, we made for the door of a bridal shop. This would surely be the first of many stores before we found the perfect gown. Having witnessed other brides and their mothers, we vowed to be happy in these moments. Unexpectedly, my mind went back to the day we brought her home some 27 years ago. I said a silent thank-you to the young mother who, by letting her go, allowed her to be mine at this precious time. Two hours later, there she stood, in the dress of her dreams. My beautiful girl.
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by Pat Guthrie, Pulaski, Virginia
My elderly sister decided for the first time to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve in New York City to watch the ball drop. The next morning, she reported that she was disappointed. When I asked her why, she said that on the news the day before, the reporters had talked about the crystals inside the ball and what a piece would be worth if someone got ahold of one. But then the ball descended very slowly. She’d expected it to crash and that people would scramble for the pieces. She’d wanted to see that!
by Julie Liska, Seward, Nebraksa
Dad auctioned off his faithful red tractor, rented out the land, and retired from farming in 1982. He and Mom moved to town. But they reserved a small plot of land for a garden and returned each week of summer to tend it. Winter brought new challenges. Dad had his hips replaced, bypass and cataract surgeries, and a stroke. Yet each spring the garden was planted, watered, lovingly tended—the bounty shared with all. Now Dad is 93; his pale blue eyes dodge the sun as he gingerly plucks red tomatoes from the vine. “What will you remember about me?”
Kagan McLeod for Reader's DigestDARK WATERS
by Daryl Eigen, Portland, Oregon
Night wreck diving in Micronesia is scary. One hundred feet down, the water is the blackest. Two of us dived toward a sunken ship that soon loomed large in the dark water. We felt the ghosts of the Japanese sailors who had died with this WWII freighter. Swimming deeper into the ship’s bowels, my buddy suddenly hit a layer of reflective silt, blinding us. Together we groped through the ship, breaking through the uninterrupted, silent blackness of the sea. Watching our bubbles, we rose to the surface, where I ripped off my mask to breathe the tropical air.
Kelly Hennigan, Lacona, New York
A wee bit of a kitten, she meowed louder than a freight train from behind the shelter’s cage. “Can we get this one?” asked Katie, age seven. “I don’t know,” I said. “A black cat may not be good luck.” To her, I was the young live‑in girlfriend and sometimes the one claiming her dad’s attention. A week later, we picked up our loud but little black kitten and named her Jasmine. Twenty years later, Jasmine’s old and loved, and when Katie comes home to visit, she greets me with a hug. We both agree: Black cats aren’t bad luck!
Aaron Hampton, Seattle, Washington
As a child, I had awful night terrors—at one point, I stopped sleeping. Then my dad’s younger brother lost his job and had to move in with us. Uncle Dave slept in the room next to mine. From then on, he was there to comfort me, sometimes even sleeping on the floor beside my bed “to keep the monsters away.” After he landed a job, he could have moved into a nice apartment, but I begged him not to go. When my parents asked why he was staying, he smiled and replied, “Monsters.”
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by Eileen Dougharty, Chicago, Illinois
“Ticket is $287. But all of that is a problem.” She’s referring to my luggage cart, stacked with suitcases, boxes, and a bag full of shoes. “One bag is free. Everything else is $100 each.” I tell her I packed my Volkswagen after discovering my boyfriend was cheating. Fried the engine. Hitchhiked to the airport in flip‑flops. She left her cheating husband recently, hardest decision she ever made. She checks it all, charges me nothing. As I leave, I don’t feel the crush of having no plan, only the weightlessness of being free.
Jennifer Thornburg, San Tan Valley, Arizona
I started quilting so I could spend time with my aunt. I didn’t accomplish much until my little sister was put into the hospital. She lived 13 hours away, which meant I couldn’t be at her side, but I could pray, and I could make her a blanket. Every stitch was sewn with prayer and tears, memories woven in between layers of cotton and polyester. Doctors said she was going to die at least three times. I sewed faster. By God’s good grace, I delivered that blanket two years ago, and my sister still sleeps under it today.
Babette Lazarus, New York, New York
I was riding the subway and happened to be seated between two young guys. The one on the right eyed the slightly grungy Band‑Aid on my thumb and said, “You should really change that, you know. You have to keep it clean.” Then the one on my left said, “Here, I have one,” and pulled a fresh Band‑Aid out of his knapsack. “I keep them on me because I’m always hurting myself.” Incredulous, I thanked him, changed my bandage, and got off at my stop feeling pretty good about people, life, and New York City.
Kagan McLeod for Reader's DIgestLOVE, EDITED
by Mahjabeen Daya, Brampton, Ontario
When I was raising my 14-year-old son as a single mother in Toronto, he helped me publish a magazine. One day, an incredibly handsome, soft-spoken, well-mannered visitor from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, visited my office. We shared our experiences as volunteer editors. When he left, my son whispered, “Mom! Now, that’s the kind of man you should marry!” I blushed and laughed it off and didn’t think about it again. Eight years later, I met the same man again. He was now a widower. We married and are still together nine years later, coediting an international magazine.
THE YELLOW HOUSE
by Rose McMills, Woodridge, Illinois
I’ve lived in my condo 15 years now—long enough that I don’t even see it anymore. I started dreaming about moving into a house, where I was bound to be happier. I fixated on little yellow houses somewhere in the suburbs of Chicago and watched for them from the train on my commute. “Oh, look—there’s one!” I’d say as it slid by. Then one day, sitting in the sun on my patio, I looked up and realized the outside of my condo was done in yellow siding. I already had a yellow house. And I was home!
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by James Gates, Watertown, South Dakota
We’d divorced three years earlier and hadn’t seen each other since, but for whatever reason, I never took her off my emergency contact list at the nearest hospital. After my accident, I was put in a medically induced coma, and when I woke, she was the only person in the room. She sat in a hospital recliner, watching The View, looking unshowered. She turned her head casually as I slowly came to. “It’s just like you to have something like this happen,” she said. “I’m here, so I figure I’ll get us something to eat. What do you want?”
Kagan McLeod for Reader's DigestSS SERENDIPITY
by Vernon Magnesen, Elmhurst, Illinois
In July 1915, Henry and his eight-year-old daughter, Pearl, were excited for the company outing the next day. That evening, Henry had a violent argument with his landlord, ending with the landlord spitting on a painting of the Virgin Mary. Henry was so upset, he fell ill and canceled their trip. He and Pearl missed the cruise on the SS Eastland, which sank with over 800 people on board—but not my future grandfather and mother. Thanks to that miracle argument 100 years ago, 22 descendants are alive today.
CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS
by Stephanie Adair, Metairie, Louisiana
Every day, upon picking up my 11-year-old son from school, I would ask, “How was your day?” For years, I got the same response—“Fine, fine”—with no eye contact. His autism, it seemed, was going to deprive me of the normal chitchat parents unconsciously relish. One early spring afternoon, I asked the question, expecting the same answer. “How was your day?” My son replied, “Good, good.” Then he looked at me and said, “How was your day, Mom?” With tears streaming down my face, I said, “It’s really good—the best day ever.”
Monte Unger, Colorado Springs, Colorado
A neighborhood kid with branches and leaves sticking out of his pockets and a headband came into our front yard. He looked like a little soldier in camouflage. “I’m acting like a tree so butterflies will come,” he said. As he waited on the grass, I brought out a huge blue preserved butterfly I’d purchased in Malaysia and hid it behind my back. I walked over, kneeled, pulled out the butterfly, and said, “A butterfly has come to see you.” He gasped, and his eyes widened. His wishes won’t always come true, but one did that day.
Kagan McLeod for Reader's DigestWHO GOES THERE?
by Nettie Gornick, Butler, Pennsylvania
In 1943, I was 19 years old and worked at a barbecue located about a mile from my home. It was a beautiful, warm June night, so I decided to walk home from work rather than take a bus. As I walked up the back porch steps, I heard a male voice: “Kiss me, or I’ll scream.” After my initial shock, I turned around to see a young soldier in an Army uniform. I kissed him softly on the cheek. He smiled. “Thank you,” he said, and walked off into the night.
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BIG SHOES TO FILL
by Theresa Arnold, Tioga, Texas
I cleaned out Dad’s closet yesterday. There were two things I couldn’t box up: his work shirts and his two pairs of Red Wing boots. He couldn’t remember birthdays or anniversaries, but he remembered the date on which he’d bought his first pair. I
remember it too—April 16, the day after Tax Day. What does a child do with her dad’s favorite boots? I think I will make a planter out of them or use them to store something valuable. You can’t throw away a man’s favorite boots. You’ve got to keep them and pass them down.
A GUIDING HAND
by Grace Napier, Greeley, Colorado
En route to work, I turned right to leave my yard when a firm hand restrained my right shoulder, shoving me left. No one else was present. I followed a longer route to a traffic light intersection on Lincoln Highway, where traffic was not moving, and headed for my work site. At the end of the workday, I returned home and learned of the accident that morning only minutes after 8:00, when two vehicles crashed, pinning the crossing guard between them and killing him. I would have been in that accident. My guardian angel had preserved my life!
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