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My Special Boy, Obi – An Inspiring Story by Ashley Howland

What an Incredible Dog!

Obi and Ashley

Ashley Howland lovingly portrays Obi, her intuitive golden Lab, so smart and loving that you just wish your could reach out and hug him.

Obi influenced the lives of all whose lives he touched through his work and play both at school, at home and in a Labs ‘n Life program back in Ashley’s home in Australia. Obi also touched many hearts, and once you read this story, it is bound to touch yours as well.

My Special Boy, Obi, a 2014 Tales2Inspire winner, is now published in
Tales2Inspire ~ The Sapphire Collection
Stories that Echo In The Mind


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Lois W. Stern
Bringing you one inspiring story at a time,
From Tales2Inspire

LOVE IS PRICELESS – An Inspiring Story

This video is dedicated to all for the Mothers Out There. And when you watch it,  have the tissues ready!

When a young boy presents his mother with an IOU for all the tasks he has done to help her, she responds to him in this most inspiring video. Take a moment to watch it now.


Brought to you from

Lois W. Stern


Bringing you one inspiring story at a time.

Thanks you Natalie Hecht for this one.

* A FATHER’S DAY GIFT – An Inspiring Story by Jenna Ludwig

finalist  Ultimately, this story is about a gift I received from my father, posthumously, the year after he died. First, I’d like to tell you something about the man he was and why the gift was so important to me. Dad was my best friend growing up. We were alike in many ways. I have a strawberry birthmark on my right arm identical to and in the same location as the one that was on his right arm. We had the same droll sense of humor. When I was young, we ate sardines and crackers together in the kitchen, laughing when my other siblings would shy away from the smelly treat. I was the daughter who enjoyed snuggling up with Dad on the couch to watch his favorite cowboy and detective TV serials and was the first to try out the walking stilts he enjoyed making for us kids.

 I know Dad found our similarities endearing when I was a child. But as I grew older, certain other characteristics we shared, like fierce independence and a long stubborn streak, made us ‘butt heads’ more often than not. This was compounded by the fact that my mother died suddenly in automobile accident when I was 16, and my father remarried a woman with whom I did not get along.

 In 1965 I graduated from high school and went off to college.

Jenna’s High School graduation picture with her dad

As I recall, visits home were not always pleasant. I still loved my father very much, and knew he loved me, but when we talked, it often ended in a confrontation that was fueled by our differing points of view about everything from the war in Vietnam to how long my male friends should wear their hair. It seemed to me at the time that everyone was down with the news that The Times They Are A Changin’ except Dad and his whole pigheaded generation.

The year I met and fell in love with the person who was to become my husband was a particularly trying one for my father and me. Gene had long blond hair that hung to the middle of his back and enjoyed a freewheeling life on a sailboat that he and his father had built. Dad wasn’t impressed. He insisted that I reconsider my plans to leave school and marry Gene and come home instead. When I refused, he ceased speaking to me for over a year.

Under the circumstances, Gene and I decided to elope and were married quietly at a local Justice of the Peace. We celebrated after the ceremony by getting ice cream sundaes. We spent our first year together on our boat, docked close to where Gene was hired to help build a new marina in Englewood, Florida. When we became pregnant with our first child together, we moved off the boat and bought property in central Michigan where Gene’s parents lived at the time. By then, Dad and I were on speaking terms, but we were not as close as we once had been.

Married life was busy for Gene and me. We eventually had four children, designed our own house that we built to stand nestled in the woods on our property, and created a thriving wholesale fishing bait business in the resort area of Michigan where we lived. But no matter how busy we were, we always took time during the Christmas holidays to travel to Florida to visit my father and Jeanne— stepmother number two since my mother had died and the woman whom I grew to love over the 23 years they were married.

Jenna’s step mother Jeanne, with her Dad






* THE HEART OF HOME IS HOT CHOCOLATE – An Inspiring Story by Mary Romero

finalist  To the outside world we were the ‘All American Family’; mom, dad, five well behaved children who went to church every Sunday, well groomed and dressed to perfection.We even had the array of pets. But, for my family the saying, “No one knows what goes on behind closed doors” rang all too true.

Sunday mornings seemed to be the favored time for my parents to have disagreements.These were not typical arguments that couples have about things like being late or who forgot to pay which bill, these ‘arguments’ usually turned into out and out physical altercations. During one in particular I recall being more afraid than usual after seeing my mother being held up by her throat. My father came to me and asked what was wrong. I asked through tears, Are you and mommy getting a divorce?” He pulled me close, and looked me straight in the eyes telling me they would never get divorced. I believed my dad. I needed to believe him.

I have very few positive memories of my childhood but one that has touched my life in different ways still stands out so vividly in my mind that I can still smell and feel the cold crisp air and how it burns your lungs as you take in that first deep breath as I reminisce about one of those cold winter weekends.

My father loved the outdoors and in the winter, he would take us ice-skating. This was not the ice-skating where kids go to an indoor rink and skate around in circles to music. This was real ice-skating! You had to wait until it was well into the winter months so that the ice in any given large body of water had a chance to freeze all the way through. Not only did you have to dress like you were going to climb Mount Everest but, when you talked you weren’t sure your lips were moving because your face was so numb from the biting cold and ice would actually form on your eyelashes!

Once in a great while my father would spring the question, Anyone want to go ice-skating?



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* PAPPY AND THE BAND LEADER – An Inspiring story by by Rod DiGruttolo


A Tales2Inspire Winner

Saturdays were collection day on my paper route. In this way I met and came to know Mr. Merle Evans, band director for the fabulous Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus.

On tour most of the year, the circus spent the peak winter months in Sarasota. During those few months performers, managers, and various other members of the circus entourage resided here. Some maintained temporary winter homes but a number of the circus families lived year round in the quiet neighborhoods of Sarasota.

When Mr. Evans was in town, he often spent hours in the garage behind his home tinkering with some project or another. A car wouldn’t fit in the garage as the building was crammed with wondrous things.

Handbills hawking bygone spectaculars; posters depicting famous trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns or acrobats; murals depicting colorful tents, bandwagons, and circus trains were pinned and tacked in a patchwork of brilliant color. The colorful montage, interspersed with black and white photos, covered nearly every square inch of garage wall. Mr. Evans invited me into his fantasy world on several occasions. I gawked with eyes wide and mouth agape as Mr. Evans patiently pointed out the impressive decorations and regaled me with antidotes of the Big Top.

One Saturday, while enjoying Mr. Evans’ hospitality, I told him my grandfather, my “Pappy,” was due to arrive for a visit in a few days. Pappy played the trombone and performed with a small band in rural Pennsylvania for many years.

Rod as a youngster, folding newspapers in his garage

He was a big fan of circus music and of Mr. Evans in particular. Each year during Pappy’s visits we attended performances of the circus at least once, more often several times. Pappy always reserved seats directly across from the bandstand and reveled in the music. He kept an intent eye on the band leader while he hummed and tapped his foot in rhythm with the music.

Mr. Evans grinned and asked, “Why don’t you bring him around next Saturday? I’ll give him the fifty-cent tour.”

In my own way that’s what I’d been angling for, but hearing the invitation made my heart skip a beat. I stammered “Thank you” several times and nearly stumbled over my own feet, while beating a hasty retreat lest he should change his mind.



TALES2INSPIRE™   ~ The Sapphire Collection

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Rod DiGruttolo grew up and continues to live in Sarasota, Florida. “Living in perpetual summer, adjacent to beaches and warm, clear water has to be as close to an ideal childhood as any boy could ask for, maybe even more idyllic than life on the Big Muddy,” claims Rod. A proud father, step-father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Rod feels blessed by his large, close knit family as well as a loving wife and his own good health. His story is a memoir – a true slice of life event he shared with his Pappy while a young boy. Rod has been in business for many years and has been fortunate to meet and do business with a number of notable personalities. He served a stint of about eight years in the role of a law enforcement officer.

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