About a month before his birthday, there was an assembly about seat-belt safety presented at his high school. One of the presenters in this program, Kathy Hezlep, had lost her son in a horrible car crash the year before.
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When Kathy was first asked to speak at this assembly, she was reluctant. But the school had convinced her to talk to the students. Kathy spoke about how hard it had been since the loss of her son. There were days when it was an effort just to get out of bed. She spoke directly from her heart and my son took her words straight into his heart.
I remember Alan coming home that day and the two of us talking about the crash. We thought it was interesting that she was a single mother like me and that her son, Ryan, was her only child like Alan. Well, the big day finally arrived. At the time, I thought the worst feeling I could possibly experience was watching my only child drive off alone in my car. I was wrong. He managed to miss a lake and a traffic sign that were in his path, but went full force into a light pole.
When I was taken to the scene of the accident and saw the wrecked car, I felt physically sick. I thought, My son must have a guardian angel. I was right. When I got to the hospital, I talked to Alan about the accident. He told me that none of the kids had been wearing their seat belts when he started the car. That is what had saved their lives. My family is one of the lucky ones. I have unending admiration, respect and love for Kathy Hezlep. She is not a celebrity but an everyday person; a mother who, despite her immeasurable loss, had the courage to speak out and make a difference that saved three lives.
To me, Kathy is a superstar. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc. She died two days later. Women who sent us their stories told us repeatedly how grateful they were for the opportunity to write them down. They said that even if their stories were not included in our book, they were happy just to have expressed them. In doing so, they felt cleansed and renewed.
Because of this book we, too, are changed people. We see more clearly what's really important in life. We appreciate more deeply the human experience. And we live more fully in the moment. Women bring such beautiful gifts to the world through their openness, compassion and wisdom.
Our deepest desire is that each time you read these stories, you will come away with a greater appreciation for yourselves and for each other—as we all did. As one of the women who wrote to us, Mary Michalia, so beautifully said: All women go through periods in their lives when numerous demands are placed on them —family, work, spouse, ex-spouse, children, stepchildren, parents. It is important, indeed necessary, to step back and re-evaluate one's priorities, to reflect on one's mission in life.
For it is only in nurturing one's soul that one can nurture, take care of another. Sometimes, one must say, "Stop! Listen to me. I have a story to tell. May it touch your heart and move your spirit. They must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller Reprinted with permission from Dave Carpenter. Page 8 The White Gardenia Every year on my birthday, from the time I turned 12, one white gardenia was delivered anonymously to me at my house.
After a while, I stopped trying to discover the identity of the sender. I just delighted in the beauty and heady perfume of that one magical, perfect white flower nestled in folds of soft pink tissue paper.
But I never stopped imagining who the sender might be. Some of my happiest moments were spent in daydreams about someone wonderful and exciting, but too shy or eccentric to make known his or her identity.
Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul 2: 101 More Stories to Open the Hearts and Rekindle the Spirits…
In my teen years, it was fun to speculate that the sender might be a boy I had a crush on, or even someone I didn't know who had noticed me. My mother often contributed to my speculations. She'd ask me if there was someone for whom I had done a special kindness, who might be showing appreciation anonymously.
She reminded me of the times when I'd been riding my bike and our neighbor drove up with her car full of groceries and children. I always helped her unload the car and made sure the children didn't run into the road. Or maybe the mystery sender was the old man across the street. I often retrieved his mail during the winter, so he wouldn't have to venture down his icy steps.
My mother did her best to foster my imagination about the gardenia. She wanted her children to be creative. She also wanted us to feel cherished and loved, not just by her, but by the world at large. When I was 17, a boy broke my heart. The night he called for the last time, I cried myself to sleep.
When I awoke in the morning, there was a message scribbled on my mirror in red lipstick: "Heartily know, when half-gods go, the gods arrive. When I finally went for the glass cleaner, my mother knew that everything was all right again. But there were some hurts my mother couldn't heal. A month before my high school graduation, my father died suddenly of a heart attack.
My feelings ranged from simple grief to abandonment, fear, distrust and overwhelming anger that my dad was missing some of the most important events in my life. I became completely uninterested in my upcoming graduation, the senior-class play and the prom —events that I had worked on and looked forward to.
I even considered staying home to attend college instead of going away as I had planned because it felt safer. My mother, in the midst of her own grief, wouldn't hear of me missing out on any of these things. The day before my father died, she and I had gone shopping for a prom dress and had found a spectacular one—yards and yards of dotted Swiss in red, white and blue.
Wearing it made me feel like Scarlett O'Hara. But it was the wrong size, and when my father died the next day, I forgot all about the dress. My mother didn't.
The day before the prom, I found that dress waiting for me—in the right size. It was draped majestically over the living room sofa, presented to me artistically and lovingly. I may not have cared about having a new dress, but my mother did.
She cared how we children felt about ourselves. She imbued us with a sense of the magic in the world, and she gave us the ability to see beauty even in the face of adversity. In truth, my mother wanted her children to see themselves much like the gardenia— lovely, strong, perfect, with an aura of magic and perhaps a bit of mystery.
My mother died when I was 22, only 10 days after I was married. That was the year the gardenias stopped coming.
Author:Canfield, Jack; Hansen, Mark Victor
Marsha Awns Words from the Heart The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. Harriet Beecher Stowe Most people need to hear those "three little words. I met Connie the day she was admitted to the hospice ward, where I worked as a volunteer. Her husband, Bill, stood nervously nearby as she was transferred from the gurney to the hospital bed. Although Connie was in the final stages of her fight against cancer, she was alert and cheerful. We got her settled in. I finished marking her name on all the hospital supplies she would be using, then asked if she needed anything.
I enjoy the soaps so much and I don't want to get behind on what's happening. She loved soap operas, romance novels and movies with a good love story. As we became acquainted, she confided how frustrating it was to be married 32 years to a man who often called her "a silly woman. In the beginning, he sat next to the bed while she watched the soaps. Later, when she began sleeping more, he paced up and down the hallway outside her room.
Soon, when she no longer watched television and had fewer waking moments, I began spending more of my volunteer time with Bill. He talked about having worked as a carpenter and how he liked to go fishing.
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