Monday, December 29, 2014

Joyfull New Year

New Year 2015

One of the biggest days of the year is New Years!  Not because everything changes in just one day... some of the things in the New Year will be a continuance of the year before, it is just another day, after all.  But, the event of the New Year as a marker in time has it's opportunities.  It is like cleaning out the refrigerator.  You clean up what is still good and put it back, you throw out what is spoiled from being there too long, and you get to start fresh.

My desire to *live mindfully* this year is my resolution.  Not the kind of "mindful" that keeps me from sleeping at night as I excessively try to solve every issue that pops into my head, whether it's my own or someone else's circumstance.  Not the kind of mindful that Just. Will. Not. Let. Go. of a topic - even though it has been hammered to death!  The kind of "mindful" I refer to is more about living in the present moment, taking note of what is actually happening, and paying attention to the tasks at hand.

Multitasking has its place, but there comes a time when multitasking becomes a habit that is - distracting.  Thoughts race ahead to what I will do or say next, or memories and replays take up so much mind-space that I am not sure how I got from one place to another in my travels.  Mindful attention will keep me from wondering what that person was trying to tell me - or wishing I had noticed more landmarks as I try to find direction to a destination for the second time.  My intent to be more mind-full will encourage me to pay attention to the trees I walk by everyday and hear the bird songs as they change with the season.  It will help me to really listen to what others are saying.

Joyful! - I am adding "joyful" to my "mindful" resolution.  Sometimes it takes an effort to live knowing true joy in a day.  This is not to say that each moment will be deliriously happy or that we have to await a windfall of joy to come our way..  Rather I will learn to claim the joy in the generic circumstances of a day, joy that I know is there for the taking.  The idea that we can change things for ourselves prompts me to look for the joy in the ordinary as I gravitate towards people and places that lay a foundation for my resolution.  I will seek experiences that make my soul sing! ... Or even just hum a little.  These little, ordinary joys will not go un-noticed because of other distractions that seem to pop up and try to overtake my emotions, leaning them toward worry and regret. I will choose JOY - even more than I do now - in 2015!

My four adult children all love to cook.  This brings me great joy to see how they inspire the people they spend their time with to have fun with meal preparation.  It becomes infectious to those who look on, not wanting to be left out of the happiness factor they notice, as the careful decisions are made during the chopping and blending of ingredients.  Three of them worked in food services (one still does) and the one that did not has recently started a food blog.  I see this "talent" as a true gift of choice - to take something as simple as preparing a meal and turn it into a ritual of joy.  I am sure this was handed down through generations but as I look around at our culture, I know this is certainly not the norm amongst most of their peers.

The point I am making is that joy can spread and grow!  It multiplies - everyone wants more joy!  How would that be if the whole world became a little more joyful?  Maybe that starts with me...

I will mindfully and joyfully choose more time outdoors!  Noticing the rhythm of nature sets up a canvas for living in the moment and choosing joy.  It is difficult to see the shooting stars or a flower blooming if one stays indoors most of the time.  All Seasons have their glory so even in Winter I will bundle up and venture out into surroundings that have so much more to show me than the confines of my own creature comforts, within the walls of my home.  The ritual to open the front door to greet the day or throw open the shutters to let sunshine stream into the kitchen are touch stones to this idea.  But taking that a little further means dressing for the weather conditions and stepping into the elements. If the weather conditions are so severe that I have to put this off, I will long for the time to get back outside knowing storms pass quickly and the sun will shine again.  It will make my whole year better to spend more time outside, I know it will!

2015 is almost here and I vow to "work on" my choice to be MINDFULLY present and to seek JOY as it happens!

I am wishing for those who find themselves reading this blog post a Joyful year full of opportunities for whatever makes your heart sing! 
Happy New Year!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cutting the Pomegranates

Growing up in California, we were no stranger to the cutting of the pomegranate!  My Dad would meticulously cut an X into the top and bottom of the fruit, then score the skin connecting each corner of the X.

We shared a pomegranate last night.  He is 87 now.  He was happy to have me cut it and seed it so he could eat it out of a bowl with a spoon!

I recently learned that scoring it around the middle, avoiding the top and bottom where the flesh is thick and harder to split, would result in an easy way to crack it open.  Then to patiently peel away the interior layers of the flesh to break out the juicy red seeds......  Patience, still!

This method looks kinda messy - I have not tried it!

On Facebook, I ran across this posted video - now this totally makes sense!  So how many ways are there to peel a pomegranate?!
Now here is a combination of all of the ways I have learned that you cut a pomegranate!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

White Pines Picnic

Bike Ride in the Woods

"Time for a bike ride and picnic", I told my husband.  "Let's venture out and find a new trail."

bike, bike trail, single track, mountains, arnold, california
Single Track Bike Trail
In the early days of acquiring mountain bikes, we scoured the internet for bike trails and read the reviews and ratings, looking for trails rated "easy"  and knowing not to attempt trails that are considered "difficult". Something happens along the way of adventures in general where the tendency to throw caution to the wind in the spirit of excitement makes you forget your own rules.

There are very thin lines between the different elements of wanting to have some fun. There is the reach for something new as well as finding an unknown while surprise and risk play into the equation as well. Adrenaline and how it feels is a big contributing component.  Safety issues remain in any sport, so being mindful of how much risk to take is important as one weighs all the factors of how to proceed.

"The big pencil"
We re-read the directions, veer left at the town of Arnold, go past the elementary school and turn right at the big pencil.  We looked at each other in amusement.  The big pencil!  The directions were spot on as we pulled into the parking lot at the Sierra Logging Museum with the gate to the trailhead right in front of us.  We were in the woods!  It was the perfect weather this last day of May.
Paved Road 
The paved trail started to climb - here is where we start to get our bearings, it has been a while since we had the bikes out.  Once the asphalt gave way to a dirt single track I really got excited to think we were traveling deeper into the woods.  The trail got steeper both up and down and my tires, not treaded heavily enough for this terrain started slipping all over the place in the dusty, powdery pine needles. Though we have taken mountain paths through thick woods and ridden on the pine needle covered forest floors during other rides, this slippery carpet seemed to be a combination of  fine dust and pine pollen.  We found ourselves walking the bikes a third of the time, anxious to get up to "the rim" where surely the trail would level out.

Hairpin turns and steeper climbs made it less possible to ride the trail and there was no sign of reaching an area that would suffice for the kind of riding we like to do, so we finally turned around, knowing we had to navigate through each difficulty over again in order to get back to the car.

We made it with one spill, a bent wheel, a cracked reflector and the resolve to get my tires replaced with a deeper tread,  ASAP!

I found this video of the trail, but it seems like there are a lot of uphill parts cut out!  By the way, I do not jump logs with my mountain bike like the rider featured in this video does!  The video does show how gorgeous it is along this trail!

Arnold Rim Trail from South County Ciclista on Vimeo.

White Pines Lake Picnic
Bikes back on the rack, we drove out of the parking lot (at the big pencil) and down to the White Pines Lake Picnic area to find the most charming little kayaking lake with recreational percs everywhere.  Playgrounds, Horseshoe pits, a little league field, a Disc Golf Court, a sand beach and swimming hole, and trails all around the lake.  For all the people present, it is a quiet area with lots of fishing and Kayaking, no motor boats allowed.

We will be back to this lake for sure, but next time we will try a different entrance to the Rim Trail rather than start at the top of the mountain trailhead.  It might be time to go and read the reviews again before choosing the next new trail.

california, arnold, mother-lode, gold country
White Pines Lake

Thursday, February 20, 2014

1000 Free Glass Straws

Plastic is Drastic.....

Check out the 1000 free glass straws giveaway for Earth Day 2014.  This year, the theme is "Plastic is Drastic" with a focus on learning alternatives to choosing and using single use plastics.  To participate, you will want to go to this link.  March 10th is the soonest you can sign up for this event by participating in a trivia project designed to bring awareness of how we can all be a part of the pollution solution!

earth day, glass straws, glassdharma, straw, straws, reuse

This link will take you to full details. 

Now you can think about what you are going to sip through your new GlassDharma glass straw. 

Meet Olivia, she is going to show you just how to use your Earth Day Straw in this drink DIY Video. 

Make everyday Earth Day!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Twelve Months In A Year

Time to.......

The Holiday decorations are finally put away, and with the same feeling of satisfaction that putting them up produces in early December.  "Let's get on with it" is the calling that beckons.  The year is stretched before us now and I feel myself perching on the marker of last year's transition into this.

2013 will go in my own history book as one of the most eventful years in my entire life. The lineup was evident this time last year as the calendar filled up, barely leaving gaps for all the other important stuff that happened that could not be foreseen.  The timeline of occurrences is one that most certainly will be remembered when I am older and all the memories just start running together like colors of paint spilled out of cans.  I can see myself saying, "Remember in 2013....", "I will never forget that in 2013..."  It was all somewhat crazy in a happy way.  Memorable for sure!

This year there are only a few markers on the calendar and the contrast between the two years has me wondering... There is more room for surprise this year!  Though this idea excites me, I find myself wishing to keep the calendar clean and uncluttered.

We all have the same twelve months in a year, the same 24 hours in a day.  How we spend them has a lot to do with obligation, life's circumstance, our motivation factor, and choice.  I look back on the many unfinished things that I have started: the scarf on the knitting needles, the flowerpots to be transplanted, and the room that still needs painting.  It is only a mere setback, I say to myself. Prioritizing is part of living life, after all.  The unfinished things will be there when I get back to them, knowing that the interruptions in life are a sacred opportunity to live in the moment and embrace the unknown.

Yes, we all have the same twelve months in a year....

It's time for me to start to write that book now.....

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Gift of Christmas and Wishes

A Christmas tree for Connie's Fall from Autumn

by Cherie Colombo

I remember an Autumn, a September's warm and sunny day in Santa Clara, California, 45 years ago. Anxiously awaiting for my kindergarten son of five to make his "big man walk alone" home from school. I watched the clock calculating my little five year old's couple of blocks' strategy. "That's it!" I thought, "taking too long!" As I was about to bolt out the door for rescue, the phone rang. A smiling voice on the other end saying, "don't worry, he's here, he gave my daughter a rose." I arrived at this nice lady's home. The door opened and I walked into Connie's life and a friendship that would last for decades.  
Connie K. Garcia Hoy. Our lives shared the trials and tribulations that a relationship of blessed longevity brings. She was married and had two sons and a daughter. I was married and raising my only son. Young mothers, young wives, and young lives had a lot to share in common. The swift passing years brought multiple changes. Changes in marriage, change in career. A change in location with a major move to Idaho, cultural shock in our 30's. The teen years of raising those kids, and then the death of my son in my 40's, the divorces, serious life threatening diseases, medical procedures, ageing parents, dying parents, care giving to parents, loss, and death adjustment, and us aging..... It all plays out like a fast forward movie in your mind. But, we were solid lifelines, encouraging, laughing, crying, and talking and talking our way through it all.
Connie K. Garcia Hoy, we called each other best friends, but after knowing each other for forty-five years, we merged as family somewhere along the line and I will forever see her this way. "Happy Birthday", I had said to her on September 13, 2013. We laughed that she didn't feel anything different at all! I sent her a card with sentiments relating to how much we had experienced together and that we now were in the Autumn of our years, not knowing when our winter would come.... but still looking forward to all we would share with new beginnings.

Connie had recently lost her husband Ray to Alzheimer. An intense few years of care-giving had left her recouping and searching for a new direction in life. She died four days later after her 72 birthday. An unexpected massive heart attack. Connie literally did fall on September 17, 2013, but not without a last wish to be realized. Truly, my heart and mind will miss her for the rest of my days. You just keep looking for those subtle messages that make you go, hmmmm.
Connie treaded lightly on this earth. Her love for nature and philosophy galore! Not to be confused that she wouldn't stand up for a cause if needed be, but, intelligently weighed her convictions of justice with grace of wisdom as she saw it. Her thrust was for fairness in truths revealed and although I argued she could take some things too seriously, her analytical mind remained restless. Thank God for a wonderful sense of humor and good nature that would eventually maintain her balance of goodwill, and, realize her wish in the outcome....                   

Her life was relatively quiet and content in her marriage to Ray Hoy. They settled in Nampa, ID. And Connie's love for gardening, exotic plants, and rare heirloom seeds grew. For a few years she made a business of servicing restaurant's chefs with her beautiful edible herbs and flowers. My interest in gardening was not as extensive as hers, but I learned a lot from her that shows in my own gardening skills of today.

Later in years, Ray retired and his health began to slip away. Connie still kept gardening but the grounds once maintained with both of their efforts were now out of control and overgrown. Her time, now devoted to Ray when the devastating disease of Alzheimer slowly took its toll. Her strength of handling the situation is to be revered.  

Christmas Tree. memory, spruce, City of caldwell
Spruce Tree
After the passing of Ray, Connie's determination of putting things back in order became her ominous mission. We had hour long conversations of what needed to be done for restoration. And then, a real focus occurred.  The front of her home had been obscured from view for some time due to a monster huge Spruce tree. " I am going to remove it," she said with conviction. "Oh, really? How's that going to happen?" I said with much apprehension. I could tell she had given this much thought, after all, the tree was part of the family! Being the wonderful researcher she had become, she told me she had found an interested connection for the tree and it would be donated in Ray's name as a beautiful "City Christmas Tree"!  What a tribute to Ray, what a honor, I was so excited for her. The anticipation of this event would truly be soul healing and gratification..... who knew what was to be?  Was her wish gone with her own demise?

city of caldwell, christmas tree
Tree Transportation
for the City of Caldwell
Christmas Tree Lighting
Connie was blessed in many ways through this life. The best being she had three beautiful children who grew into amazing adults! Rina, Frank and Steven. She referred to them as the jewels in her crown and I admired how she knew how to love each of them equally with all the differences of individually they presented. They all lived in distance in the pursuit of their lives. 

The devastating news would bring these three together in the most challenging ways they have ever known. I share the grief with them, but they were the ones that had to deal with the physical closure and all that must be addressed physically and mentally when these kind of life events presents itself in our lives..... I know somewhere, my dear special friend smiles and is proud. It is perfect completion of a life cycle. Her children have met all her wishes, and then some. The three came together as an awesome team! Accomplishing things together and establishing a new bond between each other that will last forever. Big Smile Here! AND, the last wish of my friend, the tree? It was removed by the fine City of Caldwell, ID. and stands tall and proudly waits for the Christmas lighting ceremony November 22, 2013 in the name of Ray and Connie Hoy. 

caldwell, spruce tree, christmas tree, connie, memory
Connie and Raymond Hoy's tree has reached its final destination.
Placed in The City of Caldwell and is now ready to be decorated!
For the Christmas Tree lighting on November 22, 2013.

MERRY CHRISTMAS my friend and to all, wishes do come true.... and new beginnings.....

This guest post contribution is written by my friend and mentor of many years.  Though 1000 miles separate us, my inspiration to write was generated by many beautiful and descriptive hand-written letters sent to me from Cherie. The three children in this story.... I was their babysitter when I was 13 ~  a fact non related (seemingly) to my friendship with the author.  ~ It's not the destination..... it's the journey ~

Monday, November 4, 2013


Angels In My Life

angel, stamp, christmas, cards, ink
My Angel Stamp
A golden Angel sits at the top of our Christmas tree.  She smiles down at us as we gather below in celebration of the Christmas season.  The old traditional icicle ornamental tree topper from many years before no longer carries the sentiment it once did.  The Angel is our family’s new tradition, a symbol of protection and God’s Love.

I ordered an Angel stamp and gold ink to use on our Christmas cards.  Two weeks later, there was a funeral in our small town for a fifteen-year-old girl who died in a tragic accident.  During the service, her mother read a poem she had written.  It was about an Angel.  I returned home after the service feeling very emotional, trying to make sense of it all.  The mail carrier left a package on my doorstep, the angel stamp had arrived.  I opened the package and found myself thinking about Angels.


I first knew of the physical presence of an angel when I was about eight years old.  My family was traveling across the desert by night during a violent rainstorm.  I was sitting with my head on my mother's lap as lightning bolts lit up the sky.  My father lost control of the car and we started skidding sideways into a ditch and directly toward a telephone pole!  My mom told my dad to let go of the steering wheel and let the car go its own way.  I saw the huge telephone pole that was getting closer and closer when suddenly the car miraculously changed direction by 90 degrees, rolling in reverse, and narrowly missing what could have been a fatal crash into that pole!

The six of us were badly shaken but unharmed.  The wheels of the station wagon were embedded in mud.  While waiting for help to arrive we had time to recount what had happened.  I remember my other saying that a Guardian Angel was standing at the pole and had kept us from crashing into it.

The idea of God sending an Angel to protect our family seemed very reasonable to me.  However, this was my first realization that I was the recipient of Divine Intervention by an Angel.  Ever since that night, I am aware that Angels are present and most certain they play an important part in my life and the lives of others.


My mother took my little sister and I to visit her sister for the summer.  Our little cousins were the same ages as the two of us and we considered them our "twin cousins".  Muffy Sue, my own "twin" cousin was suffering from Leukemia.  Though I did not know the severity of her illness until I was much older, I knew she was very sick.  We had to take her to the hospital for lots of tests and she took medicine, constantly.  However, when she had good days we got to play in my Grandma's sprawling gardens and go on outings to the parks, the circus, and the zoo!  The four of us played all summer long and became very close.

One day we went to the petting zoo and the lambs and goats got into a scuffle and frightened Muffy.  She was terrified of lambs and goats from that day on and would cry every time she saw one.

During my Kindergarten year, my Mother woke me up in the night to tell me that Muffy had gone to heaven.  I could not understand why God had not kept her from dying, because in all of my 5 year little life I had never prayed for anyone as much as I prayed for her.

Years later, I learned that just before Muffy died, she told her mommy that she could see all the little lambs and could she go and play with them?  Her mother told her that yes, she could go play with the lambs.

I know that Muffy is among Angels, but often wish that she were here.  I wonder what she would be like today and how she and I would influence each other's lives.  I think of her when I see lambs... and when I think of Angels.

My doctor shook his head in amazement that I was still pregnant at 34 weeks gestation.  I was carrying triplets and the pregnancy was challenged by many factors including preterm labor symptoms.  He suggested a scheduled Cesarean Section the next day but I convinced him that I could make it one more week to give the babies more time to develop.  I wanted my babies to have the heath advantage of being five weeks premature rather than six weeks.

Two days later my husband was called out of state.  His father had just suffered a heart attack and slipped into a coma before his son could make the 2000 mile trip to go see him.  His parents were scheduled to come out and help once the babies were born.  I was afraid they might be born while their daddy was away.

The triplets waited until their father's return to be welcomed into the world.  We celebrated their birth and felt determined that no matter what challenges our family faced, these precious lives would remain safe.  Their arrival gave us all hope at a most difficult time. There was a lot of praying going on.

Though our babies had only routine health complications due to their premature birth, their Grandpa remained comatose.  We spent every possible moment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Ward with our three babies in incubators; two of them were on ventilators.  Two thousand miles away, our extended family took vigil in the Cardiac Intensive Care Ward with Grandpa.  We longed to be with them and they, with us.

The two weeks we spent in the NICU taught us extraordinary lessons about life and death.  Each day held moments of joy and sadness, love and fear.  Tragedy and miracles are regular occurrences in such an environment.  We rejoiced with families when a baby was sent home.  We cried and held our babies close when a family was sent away with empty arms, never to hold their own baby again.  I am convinced that the staff of doctors and nurses who work for such great causes know they work amongst Angels.

As our babies grew, I was determined to continue my independence as much as possible.  The idea of being responsible for four small children was terrifying! The oldest had just turned five and his three siblings were lively five month olds.  Knowing I was faced with the many challenges of raising a large family, I took a deep breath and decided to continue onward.  It was time to see what I could manage on my own so I packed the children into our new van, buckling the babies into their car seats.

We started out on our new venture to my parent's house, 100 miles away.  I was mentally prepared for a lot of stops and delays as I would need to tend to the children's needs.  I was not completely comfortable with driving after a bed-ridden pregnancy followed by a life that kept me housebound, and new car that I was just getting used to operating.  My mind was whirling with thoughts of how I would manage the next couple of days as I made stops at each of the stop signs along the country highway.  Some of the intersections had two-way stops and some had four-way stops.

The next thing I knew there was a loud BANG!  I opened my eyes form what I thought was a split second blink to see no front end on the van and smoke curling up from where the engine once was.  There were people running toward us.  With no time to spare, I unbuckled my seat belt.  The next moment found me unbuckling babies from their car seats and handing them one by one to total strangers that came to help.  I felt like I was in a dream and had no idea of what had just happened.

A women and her daughter had been passing through and they were the first to come to our aid.  Her first words were that no one was hurt, which was all that mattered.  She invited me to bring my children to her car while we waiting for the police to arrive.  She helped me hold and calm the babies.  Realizations started sinking in of what had just happened.  Though I had stopped at the stop sign, I had continued as a semi was approaching from the left.  The impact of the collision had caused my van to spin 180 degrees across the intersection. Miraculously, everyone was unharmed including the driver of the semi.

Through my humiliation came intense anger. Most of my family had almost been wiped out in a moment.  My error had been no different from the mistakes many of us make in any given day.  A lapse in judgment, a wrong reflex...  Why was the fragility our mortality being thrown in our faces once again?  After all we had been through with the loss of my father-in-law and the fight to keep our babies alive?!

Instead o feeling gratitude that we were all alive, I felt angry and afraid.  I would not talk to anyone about the accident.  I lost faith that tragedies can have purpose even when we do not understand what that purpose might be at the moment.  I felt I would never trust myself again.  I would not acknowledge my Angel.

A few years later, my recently widowed Mother-in-law had a near fatal accident.  She was just starting to settle into a routine of leaning to live on her own without the companionship of her beloved husband.  After recovering form her injuries, she and I shared our feelings and thoughts about each of our accidents.  We had gone through similar experiences and we shared a special closeness as we shared with one another.

I had finally realized that I was wasting precious energy trying to figure out what purposes these incidences have.  It was at this pint in my life that tI stopped searching for reasons and learned to accept all that has happened.  I was finally ready to acknowledge my Angel.  It seems that when we think we are in control of our lives, circumstances humble us and make us realize that something much greater than us is at work.  I believe the Angels are sent to us to guide us through these times.  They help to protect us and keep the presence of God alive in our hearts and souls.

No longer am I surprised at the presence of Angels.  I have learned to expect them and welcome them.  Whether they take the form  of the woman who let me wait in her car with my children, or of the halting of a child's intense fear, or the words that surprisingly pour from one's lips as they find just the right thing to say to comfort someone, these Angels are all around us.
Christmas tree, angel, tree topper
Angel topping the Christmas Tree

On a well-traveled country highway, about two miles east of Stockton, California, there is a white cross that marks the place where a life was lost.  Just west of that marker is a house where a wheelchair bound man lives.  He often sits outside on the side of the highway with his big black dog, waving at people as they whiz by in their vehicles.  Many of them wave back.

Seeing him has caused me to wonder of his condition... and his story.  I have admired how he chooses to spend his time; making contact with the folks that are probably strangers to him.  Does he have any idea of the impact he has on so many of us that notice him? Does he realize that his presence interrupts our fast-paced thoughts long enough to cause another look at the speedometer or to cause a new awareness of our surroundings?  How many lives might he have changed in one brief moment?  Or even saved?

He must have an Angel close be to keep him from harm.  Or is he the Angel?


This story was written on a typewriter in 1995.  In 2005, my daughter came home from school with her writing assignment.  It is about her Angel.  I have chosen to include it as the sequel to my story. 
My Angel

      Driving along a busy highway on a sweet, sunny day, I observed the familiar scenery of orchards and shrubs and the occasional house peeking through tiny holes of soaring oak trees.  Wisps of wind coming from the open window tickled my face as I inhaled the fragrant aroma of the fresh spring morning. I turned my head to peer out the adjacent window.  A movement caught by the corner of my eye lured my curiosity toward the front, where I noticed a man perched near the side of the road outside of a cozy, pastel-colored house.  As we approached, his appearance became more obvious to my vision. The man was in a wheelchair…and he was waving.

I had a whirlwind of questions about this peculiar sight.  Who was this mysterious man waving at?  What was his name?  Why was he in a wheelchair?  Of course, these questions had to remain in my mind for the remainder of the afternoon, because the car had stopped and my mother, rushing us out of her old, blue mini-van and wishing us a wonderful day at school, interrupted my thoughts.  Throughout classes, during lunch, and until the last bell rang I thought about this man.

I awoke the next morning to the smell of fresh apple pancakes and coffee.  I went through my ordinary routine, forgetting about the man from the day before. At 7:40, my siblings and I raced out the door and scrambled into the van for another school day.  It was not until my brother curiously asked about the “waving man,” as he called him, that I remembered.  We all decided to look for him as we approached closer to the site where we first saw him.

Sure enough, the waving man was sitting in his timeworn wheelchair waving vigorously at passing cars.  I was able to get a much better look, and what a sight he was!  Upon long, dark, straggly hair rested a unique, black leather cap. His skin appeared tanned and rough, and his eyes drooped under heavy eyebrows.  He wore a tattered, soft-brown leather jacket with leather fringes dangling from the arms.  His jeans were a faded blue, and a beautiful black Labrador dog sat at his side.  The only thing new about him that I happened to notice were his bright blue and white sneakers.  I waved at him as we drove by, and I thought I saw the corner of his mouth turn up into a smile.

For the next two years, no matter how extreme the weather, we drove by the waving man each day, wondering many things about the events of his life.  He transformed what was a boring drive to school into an exciting and entertaining twenty minutes.  Regardless of where the waving man was from, we were grateful we had the opportunity to share our morning drive with a stranger who gradually became less of a stranger with each “wave” we exchanged.

Many years have passed since I last witnessed the warm presence of the waving man.  He vanished as quickly and mysteriously as he appeared. To this day, I am in awe at his exceptional desire to be a part of our world, despite the challenges of everyday life. I saw in him never-ending courage and deep compassion for the world and the different people who lived in it.  This man taught me a valuable lesson about cherishing life, and I now know what it means to truly live.  His disappearance doesn't bother me, because I know he was my "angel," and has gone to shine brightly on other young, eager souls as he did on me.