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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.

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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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 Click to oder

Lois W. Stern
Bringing you one inspiring story at a time,
From Tales2Inspire
http://www.tales2inspire.com

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

Tales2Inspire

http://www.tales2inspire.com/

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

THIS STORY CONTINUES IN THE

TALES2INSPIRE ™   SAPPHIRE COLLECTION 

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* NO SUCH WORD AS CAN’T by Lois W. Stern

It’s easy to recognize dramatic acts of heroism, acts of great courage and selflessness. But what about the unsung heroes amongst us – the ones who think of themselves as absolutely ordinary while quietly living their lives with worthy acts of purpose. Enter Gerald and Sharon Bricker, for it is through them that their daughter Jennifer Bricker has reached unfathomable heights.

In 1987, Gerald and Sharon Bricker adopted their baby daughter Jennifer. Although they already had three biological sons, Sharon yearned for a daughter, a little girl she could dress in pink ruffles with trailing ribbons and bows. They adopted Jen, sight unseen, when she was 3 months old. She was a tiny baby, only 13 ½ inches long, but to Gerald and Sharon she was perfect.

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Jen as a baby

Luck shone down on this infant from the moment she entered the Bricker household. She felt the unconditional love of her parents and three older brothers, all with solid values that helped her grow into the remarkable person she is today. As a young woman reflecting back on her childhood, Jen says with admiration:

They are amazing and they don’t even realize it, they are just good people. I don’t know how, but they always managed to handle each situation exactly the right way.

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Jen with her parents, Mr. an Mrs. Bricker and friend Dave

From early on the Brickers told Jen that there was no such word as “can’t.” Instead they taught her how to go after the things she really wanted. With their guidance, Jen’s indomitable spirit and confidence soared. She vigorously dove into sports, meeting each challenge head on with confidence and the expectation of success. More often than not, she realized her dreams. Jen led a happy, rewarding life, playing softball, basketball and volleyball. But her passion was gymnastics. When she was 10, she won fourth place in the Amateur Athletic Union’s Junior Olympics in Hampton, Va., and was Illinois state power tumbling champion in her division.

Jen grew up idolizing popular gymnast Dominique Moceanu. It wasn’t just that the two girls shared a common Romanian heritage. They shared the same good looks: dark hair, sparkling eyes. ready smiles. Jen felt a magnetic attraction to Dominique, becoming her biggest fan. At fifteen years of age, Dominique was catapulted into the limelight as the youngest member of the “Magnificent Seven”, the U.S. gymnastics team that won gold at the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta. As she stood in line to receive her gold, the name Moceanu rang a distant bell. The Brickers quietly reopened the adoption papers they had signed years earlier. What it had taken them nine years to realize was that Dominique wasn’t just Jen’s idol — she was also her biological sister.

This story continues in Tales2Inspire™ ~

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The Emerald Collection

* THE GIFT OF FAMILY by Donna Surface

When I was introduced to Pat Surface he was sitting down. Then he stood up to shake my hand, and it seemed like he just kept going . . . up. I am only 5′ tall and at nearly 6’8″ Pat’s stature, and his story, both really impressed me.

Pat’s future didn’t look very promising in 1957. He was abandoned as a newborn infant and brought to an orphanage in St. Paul, Minnesota. Little Pat was placed in a series of foster homes, where, he later learned, he was treated pretty badly. After the last family brought him back to the orphanage, he was completely traumatized. As a result, he ‘acted out’ in ways that made him, well, less than ‘adoptable.’

But in every happy ending story there is a turning point, and in this story it started with a phone call from the orphanage to Lillian and A.J. Surface, a couple who had already adopted two children from their agency. ”Would they consider adopting one child more?” Well, they honestly couldn’t afford a third child, so this was not an easy decision for them. But an inner voice whispered to them and, fortunately for Pat, they listened. Pat says he was ‘rescued’ instead of adopted when he was brought to Grand Rapids, MN to live with his new family. He thinks of his adoption date as the day he was born.

A surprise for Pat’s parents – he grew tall. Very tall. They struggled to keep him in clothing that fit. Pat didn’t stop growing until he reached nearly 6’8″, a natural basketball star in the making. Actually he did become a college all-star, a MVP of the largest amateur basketball team in the country, a member of a semi-pro exhibition team, and eventually a college basketball coach. But he yearned for more.

Pat grew up with his brother, Jim, of Korean and Hispanic heritage, and his Native American sister, Linda. The gift of being included in this blended family fueled his appreciation of diversity. It never occurred to him to view anyone as ‘different.’

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Pat and his beloved guitar

 Pat’s future didn’t look very promising in 1957. He was abandoned as a newborn infant and brought to an orphanage in St. Paul, Minnesota. Little Pat was placed in a series of foster homes, where, he later learned, he was treated pretty badly. After the last family brought him back to the orphanage, he was completely traumatized. As a result, he ‘acted out’ in ways that made him, well, less than ‘adoptable.’

But in every happy ending story there is a turning point, and in this story it started with a phone call from the orphanage to Lillian and A.J. Surface, a couple who had already adopted two children from their agency. ”Would they consider adopting one child more?” Well, they honestly couldn’t afford a third child, so this was not an easy decision for them. But an inner voice whispered to them and, fortunately for Pat, they listened. Pat says he was ‘rescued’ instead of adopted when he was brought to Grand Rapids, MN to live with his new family. He thinks of his adoption date as the day he was born.

A surprise for Pat’s parents – he grew tall. Very tall. They struggled to keep him in clothing that fit. Pat didn’t stop growing until he reached nearly 6’8″, a natural basketball star in the making. Actually he did become a college all-star, a MVP of the largest amateur basketball team in the country, a member of a semi-pro exhibition team, and eventually a college basketball coach. But he yearned for more.

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Pat, center, with his sister, Linda and brother, Jim

Pat grew up with his brother, Jim, of Korean and Hispanic heritage, and his Native American sister, Linda. The gift of being included in this blended family fueled his appreciation of diversity. It never occurred to him to view anyone as ‘different.’

Another gift from his family was his love of music. His mom was born a LaPlant, a family with a strong musical heritage. Her mother, Bessie LaPlant, was related to William Boyd, known as Hopalong Cassidy, The Singing Cowboy. She passed her musical legacy on to her eleven children. Years later, Pat wrote the song, “Belle of the Ball”, to honor her.

The LaPlants have been fiddle champions for decades, best known for their gospel and bluegrass music. They are also well-recognized for their instrument building skills with LaPlant crafted instruments, described by The Minnesota Monthly Magazine as “exquisite guitars and flawless mandolins of national note”. Pat remembers the day he received his first LaPlant guitar – he was 19, it was Christmas, and the gift changed his life. To this day, Pat plays the guitars hand-built by his eighty-two year old Uncle Lloyd LaPlant – the master builder whose amazing guitars and mandolins are used by famous bluegrass performers even today.

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Uncle Lloyd, Pat, his mom, and Uncle String

Music was calling Pat, and in 1987 it became his full-time commitment.

This story continues in the Tales2Inspire™  

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Emerald Collection

THE FENCE by Herman Rosenblat (a survivor of ‘the camps’)

August 1942. Piotrkow, Poland  **
The sky was gloomy that morning as we waited anxiously. All the men, women and children of Piotrkow’s Jewish ghetto had been herded into a square.
Word had gotten around that we were being moved. My father had only recently died from typhus, which had run rampant through the crowded ghetto. My greatest fear was that our family would be separated.
“Whatever you do, Isidore,” my eldest brother, whispered to me, “don’t tell them your age. Say you’re sixteen.” I was tall for a boy of 11, so I could pull it off. That way I might be deemed valuable as a worker.
An SS man approached me, boots clicking against the cobblestones. He looked me up and down, and then asked my age.
“Sixteen,” I said. He directed me to the left, where my three brothers and other healthy young men already stood.
My mother was motioned to the right with the other women, children, sick and elderly people.
I whispered to Isidore, ‘Why?’ He didn’t answer.
I ran to Mama’s side and said I wanted to stay with her. “No,” she said sternly. “Get away. Don’t be a nuisance. Go with your brothers.”
She had never spoken so harshly before. But I understood: She was protecting me. She loved me so much that, just this once, she pretended not to. It was the last I ever saw of her.

Buchenwald Gate

My brothers and I were transported in a cattle car to Germany.We arrived at the Buchenwald concentration camp one night later and were led into a crowded barrack. The next day, we were issued uniforms and identification numbers.
“Don’t call me Herman anymore.” I said to my brothers. “Call me 94983.”
I was put to work in the camp’s crematorium, loading the dead into a hand-cranked elevator. I, too, felt dead. Hardened, I had become a number.
Soon, my brothers and I were sent to Schlieben, one of Buchenwald ‘s sub-camps near Berlin.

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One morning I thought I heard my mother’s voice. “Son,” she said softly but clearly, “I am going to send you an angel.”
Then I woke up. Just a dream. A beautiful dream. But in this place there could be no angels. There was only work. And hunger. And fear.
A couple of days later, I was walking around the camp, around the barracks, near the barbed wire fence where the guards could not easily see. I was alone. On the other side of the fence, I spotted someone: a little girl with light, almost luminous curls. She was half-hidden behind a birch tree. I glanced around to make sure no one saw me. I called to her softly in German. “Do you have something to eat?”
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She didn’t understand. I inched closer to the fence and repeated the question in Polish. She stepped forward. I was thin and gaunt, with rags wrapped around my feet, but the girl looked unafraid. In her eyes, I saw life. She pulled an apple from her woolen jacket and threw it over the fence. I grabbed the fruit and, as I started to run away, I heard her say faintly, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I returned to the same spot by the fence at the same time every day. She was always there with something for me to eat – a hunk of bread or, better yet, an apple. We didn’t dare speak or linger. To be caught would mean death for us both. I didn’t know anything about her, just a kind farm girl, except that she  understood Polish. What was her name? Why was she risking her life for me?
Hope was in such short supply, and this girl on the other side of the fence gave me some, as nourishing in its way as the bread and apples.

Nearly seven months later, my brothers and I were crammed into a coal car and shipped to Theresienstadt camp in Czechoslovakia . “Don’t return,” I told the girl that day. “We’re leaving.” I turned toward the barracks and didn’t look back, didn’t even say good-bye to the little girl whose name I’d never learned, the girl with the apples.

We were in Theresienstadt for three months. The war was winding down and Allied forces were closing in, yet my fate seemed sealed. On May 10, 1945, I was scheduled to die in the gas chamber at 10:00 AM.
In the quiet of dawn, I tried to prepare myself. So many times death seemed ready to claim me, but somehow I’d survived. Now, it was over.  I thought of my parents. At least, I thought, we will be reunited.
But at 8 a.m. there was a commotion. I heard shouts, and saw people running every which way through camp. I caught up with my brothers. Russian troops had liberated the camp! The gates swung open. Everyone was running, so I did too. Amazingly, all of my brothers had survived; I’m not sure how. But I knew that the girl with the apples had been the key to my survival.
In a place where evil seemed triumphant, one person’s goodness had saved my life, had given me hope in a place where there was none.
My mother had promised to send me an angel, and the angel had come.
Eventually I made my way to England where I was sponsored by a Jewish charity, put up in a hostel with other boys who had survived the Holocaust and trained in electronics. Then I came to America, where my brother Sam had already moved. I served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War, and returned to New York City after two years.
By August 1957 I’d opened my own electronics repair shop. I was starting to settle in. One day, my friend Sid who I knew from England called me. “I’ve got a date. She’s got a Polish friend. Let’s double date.” A blind date? Nah, that wasn’t for me. But Sid kept pestering me, and a few days later we headed up to the Bronx to pick up his date and her friend Roma.
I had to admit, for a blind date this wasn’t so bad. Roma was a nurse at a Bronx hospital. She was kind and smart. Beautiful, too, with swirling brown curls and green, almond-shaped eyes that sparkled with life. The four of us drove out to Coney Island. Roma was easy to talk to, easy to be with. Turned out she was wary of blind dates too!
We were both just doing our friends a favor. We took a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoying the salty Atlantic breeze, and then had dinner by the shore. I couldn’t remember having a better time. We piled back into Sid’s car, Roma and I sharing the backseat. As European Jews who had survived the war, we were aware that much had been left unsaid between us. She broached the subject, “Where were you,” she asked softly, “during the war?”
 “The camps,” I said. The terrible memories still vivid, the irreparable loss. I had tried to forget. But you can never forget. She nodded. “My family was hiding on a farm in Germany, not far from Berlin,” she told me. “My father knew a priest, and he got us Aryan papers.” I imagined how she must have suffered too, fear, a constant companion. And yet here we were both survivors, in a new world. “There was a camp next to the farm.” Roma continued. “I saw a boy there and I would throw him apples every day.”
What an amazing coincidence that she had helped some other boy. “What did he look like?” I asked. “He was tall, skinny, and hungry. I must have seen him every day for six months.” My heart was racing. I couldn’t believe it. This couldn’t be. “Did he tell you one day not to come back because he was leaving Schlieben?” Roma looked at me in amazement. “Yes!”“That was me!” I was ready to burst with joy and awe, flooded with emotions. I couldn’t believe it! My angel.
“I’m not letting you go,” I said to Roma. And in the back of the car on that blind date, I proposed to her. I didn’t want to wait. “You’re crazy!” she said. But she invited me to meet her parents for Shabbat dinner the following week. There was so much I looked forward to learning about Roma, but the most
important things I always knew: her steadfastness, her goodness. For many  months, in the worst of circumstances, she had come to the fence and given me hope. Now that I’d found her again, I could never let her go. That day, she said yes. And I kept my word. After nearly 50 years of marriage, two children and three grandchildren, I have never let her go.

** This story was forwarded to me by a friend as part of a memorial chain to all those who became victims of concentration camp atrocities during Wold War II. However, since posting this story, I have learned that although the author is a survivor of the concentration camps, he falsely presented his story as truth, when in fact it is a work of fiction. 

You can read more about this hoax at:

 

* DRAGONFLIES AND THE GREAT BLUE HERON by James Osborne

For more than a decade, Great Blue Herons had a special meaning for Brad and Cindy. During those years, Brad had no hint this special meaning would one day acquire a much deeper significance.

The couple enjoyed watching the graceful herons at their summer cottage feed one hundred feet away, drawn by schools of minnows in a bay below their deck.

Brad and Cindy also saw the birds feed in a cove where they often anchored their boat overnight.Blue herons became their favorite bird. To celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary they commissioned a watercolor of a pair of blue heron.

Blue Heron

Watercolor of a pair of Blue Herons, commissioned by Brad and Cindy for their 30th wedding anniversary

The years slipped by, as they will.  Those thirty years edged toward thirty-five. Their prized painting hadn’t been framed.  One day, Brad sneaked it out and got it framed. On the night of their 35th anniversary, as they prepared to turn in, there was the framed painting above their bed, where Brad had just finished hanging it minutes earlier.

Three years later, Cindy lost her battle with cancer.  And Brad, well . . . was lost, too.

At Cindy’s memorial service, her  dear friend, Ellen led the service. She wanted to help Cindy’s young grandchildren comprehend what had occurred. Here is the story she told:

Once upon a time, a happy group of tiny bugs were playing on the bottom of a lily pond. One by one, the bugs climbed up a lily stem and disappeared. Those left behind wondered what had happened to their friends.  Then they agreed the next bug to venture beyond the surface of the pond would return and tell the others what they’d experienced.  

One day, a bug left and found itself on a lily pad. It fell asleep. When it awoke, the warm sunshine had dried its body. Instinctively, it spread the wings it had grown while asleep and began flying away. The bug had become a beautiful dragonfly with four resplendent wings. Then it remembered the promise. It swooped back toward the surface of the pond and headed downward. The dragonfly hit the surface and could go no farther. It was not able to return. Finally, it realized the others would just need to have faith that it was going to be all right.

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Original photo contributed by Sonia M. Smith

Before she passed away, Cindy had asked Brad to make two promises to her:

THIS STORY CONTINUES IN THE TALES2INSPIRE™

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EMERALD COLLECTION

Finalist award – 2013

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NO MORE FACEBOOK GROUPS – Just One Central Place For All Of Us

NO MORE FACEBOOK GROUPS – Just One Central Place Where We

Can Interact, Share and Communicate

I am closing down my Facebook groups in 2 weeks, with all future postings going to one place: my new author page at http://www.facebook.com/tales2inspire. I’m consolidate to bring us all together (lovers of inspiring stories and those with a special interest in Aesthetics and beauty) – for better communication and interaction, for less splintering and confusion.

I don’t want to lose you as a friend, so please take a moment to click on this link and give the page a LIKE.

If you are a reader of inspiring stories, don’t miss AS I AM, one of the beautiful ‘tales’ entered into my Tales2Inspire 2013 collection, and MIRACLE, another one I will be highlighting this week. If your interest lies in aesthetics and physical beauty, don’t miss Lillian Shah’s  thought provoking article, Yes, We Do Notice When You Make a Change – Either Large or Small or Dr. Rucker’s article about Dark Under Eye Circles.

CLICK

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* THE FLOWERS – by Cheryl Stewart

She was a beautiful woman who left her home state of Washington to move to Alaska. She and her husband had a dream of moving north. They packed up their belongings and drove to this territory of the United States. Alaska was not yet a state and they settled in the small town of Anchorage.  She was a woman with a pioneer spirit, but never left her house without her signature Coco Chanel red lipstick.  This woman whom I speak of was model perfect in every sense of the word. She even appeared on TV every Wednesday afternoon for a local show called “The Women’s Touch”.

This woman was my mother.

Even though she was a stay home mom, she was the busiest person I ever knew. She loved her newly founded state and became a socialite and was involved in multiple committees that ranged from the PTA, local causes, and church functions. Once we children had left home, she volunteered once a week at the Anchorage Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center is a log cabin originally built in 1955, complete with a grass-tundra covered roof. It used to be one the original houses of an earlier time, and now stands in the middle of the financial district of downtown Anchorage. It is a landmark building

Loreane Rose’s philanthropy won her the Mayor’s Moose Award, 2003 Log Cabin Volunteer of The Year

Every Thursday while walking to the center, she passed a Native Alaskan homeless woman sitting on a park bench asking for money. My mother never gave her money, knowing all too well where the cash would be spent. Instead she brought her coffee in the morning and soup or a sandwich in the afternoon. My mother was curious about this person and her story, and started arriving downtown earlier. She sat with her to get to know her.

This homeless street person was initially intimated by her questions, but my mother eventually made her feel at ease.

When asked her name, the native lady replied “Violet”. With her signature smile, my mother responded that her name was Loraene Rose. Without skipping a beat, she told her that they already had something in common. Both of their mother’s decided to name their daughters after their favorite flower. A friendship had blossomed.

Over the summer, they got to know each other better. Violet was an Inuit lady from Western Alaska in a small village on the Kuskokwim River Delta. She revealed her difficult life and that she had a daughter.  For some undisclosed reason, she had left her village and her daughter as well. The last time she had seen her daughter, she was 13 years old. My mother listened to her story, and then shared her own.  Loraene Rose had lost her mother to cancer when she was 13 years of age and didn’t have a second chance of ever seeing her again. Violet still had the opportunity of providing her daughter with that second chance. Not unlike most Native Americans, they have a predisposed affliction to alcohol. Once experienced, difficult to stop. Violet missed her daughter, but knew her daughter was ashamed of her. She redirected her shame and blame, and became helpful with other street living native people in Anchorage. She was the matriarch of the fallen natives. Autumn came and the weather began to change. In Alaska, weather changes without hesitation or anyone’s permission.

Inuit Family

It was a particular cold morning and my mother had purchased Violet a new hat and gloves. When she turned the corner onto 5th Ave, approaching The Visitor’s Center, to bring Violet her coffee and gifts, something was missing. The park bench was empty. Violet was not there.

It was not uncommon that street people froze to death during a cold night. My mother quickly ran to The Visitor’s Center and started making phone calls to the local missions and hospitals. Her colleagues stopped her and said, “Violet was here earlier and left you something.”

This story continues in the Tales2Inspire

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