Stories Embedded in My Heart

1) Twinkies and Grape Juice


A young boy was packing his backpack with Twinkies and bottles of grape juice.

“Where are you going, Tommy?” asked the mother.

“I am going to find God,” Tommy replied.

The boy walked for a while and then found a park. He sat down on a park bench next to a homeless woman. They chatted and eventually Tommy got  hungry. He took out a Twinkie and offered one to the lady. They both ate their Twinkies. He took out 2 bottles of grape juice, gave one to the lady. They clinked their bottles together and laughed. They continued to chat.

Later, Tommy came home.

“How was your day?” asked his mother.

“Well, I found God and she was not anything like I expected,” he replied.

“How are you doing?” asked a friend of the homeless woman in the park.

“I just talked to God, and he was a lot younger than I thought he would be,” she said.


2) Baseball Practice

Some moments in life are so delightful and precious that they should never come to an end. Those are the ones we preserve in our memory, like pickles in vinegar.

One of my favorite memories is when my father would come home from his job on the military base and often play catch with my brother Mike and I. Mike was 6 and I was 4.

We all had baseball gloves and we would toss the ball around for a while. Then my father would be the umpire. My brother and I would take turns, one of us would hit while the other pitched, then we switched roles.

My father kept us entertained. Sometimes after catching a pitch, which only traveled at the speed of 1 0r 2 miles per hour, he would whip off his glove, shake his fingers and blow on his hand. 

“Don’t throw those pitches so fast, my hand is burning,” he would say.

Other times he would call a strike by shouting out “STRIIIIIIKE,” and pump his arm furiously, to our delight.

My father could take an everyday game of catch and turn it into a stupendous adventure.

When he was ready to rest or go to dinner, we begged him not to stop.

“Just 5 more minutes,” we would shout.

“Okay,” he would say, and the game would continue that day, and ultimately find a permanent place in my heart.


3) Mom and Movies

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I was curious about the birds and the bees.

 I asked my mother, “Where do babies come from?”

She thought I said ‘rabies’ and she said, “That is when a sick dog bites someone.”

I nodded my head and said, “ooooh.”

That kept me perplexed for years to come.

My mother used to take me shopping with her on Saturday mornings to Pennys and Woolworths. In Penny’s she would shop for clothes while I would look at toys. 

Sometimes I got lost in the store. 

“I can’t  find my mother,” I would tell a clerk with tears in my eyes and a shaky voice. 

The clerk, with precise enunciation,  would announce over the loudspeaker. “Will the mother of Terry please come to the front cashier and collect her lost son.”

Often, after shopping, my mother would take me to watch a kid movie.

I have a crystal clear memory of watching movies like  “Alakazam” about a young monkey that studied to become a magician, then saved his village from an evil force. I also keenly remember, “The Magic Sword,” which had an evil wizard, a damsel in distress and a rugged young knight who was not afraid to fight monsters or giants.

I’m not sure how much enjoyment it was for her, but it was absolutely thrilling for me.

Other times, I would go with her to the grocery store and we would stop along the way at Winchell’s Donuts where we both would get a coke and a donut. My favorite donut was one with white frosting and chocolate sprinkles.

At the grocery store I would turn in glass soda bottles that I had collected and receive 5 cents for each bottle. The money I received, sometimes as much as 50 cents, seemed like a fortune to me at the time.

My father passed away from a heart attack in 1982. It was a shock to me. Even though he had been taking “nitroglycerin” pills to thin his blood, and we had driven him to the emergency ward several times for heart palpitations, I always thought of him as invincible. 

It seemed strange to me the morning after he passed away. I watched the cars of people zooming to work and people continuing their normal lives as if  nothing had changed. At the same time it was a cataclysmic event for me. The man I admired most in my life was gone forever.

I phoned my mom almost every day after that to check on her.

One day I made a list of my fondest memories of my time together with my mother and I gave it to her in 1997. 

When she passed away in 2013, I began to organize all of her possessions. I found a suitcase that contained many of her important papers. It was filled with receipts, warranties and several photos that I had never seen. Inside of one folder I found the list of memories that I had written for her. It warmed my heart to think that she had kept it all those years.

Stories give comfort and keep us connected to the past. In addition, they are much cheaper than therapy.

Did you see God today? 

You might never know unless you capture the stories that pass before your eyes each day.

A Speech presented at From Pen to Podium Toastmasters  2.11.2023

Related Links

Always Say “Yes” 

My Doozie of an Experience as Santa Claus 

Places in the Heart

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