Raymond’s Gift

photo of green leafed plant on wicker basket

( Intermediate Level )

Mrs. Margaret Broomfield was known as the most caring teacher at Public School Number Nineteen. She taught second grade for over twenty two years. Each school year, when a student was in need of something, she made it a point to help them without making it a big deal out of it.

For many years she bought backpacks, crayons, winter coats or even shoes for her students using her own money. She was the epitome of what people describe as a kind and generous person.

This year turned out to be a little different. Mrs. Broomfield had come down with pneumonia and she missed a lot of school. It had taken her quite a bit of time to recover.

Her students missed her even though their long term substitute teacher was wonderful. She wasn’t Mrs. Broomfield. Raymond missed her more than anyone had realized. He had lost his grandmother a year ago and he became attached to Mrs. Broomfield’s wonderful motherly demeanor.

Thanksgiving came and went and still Raymond’s teacher hadn’t returned to work. Raymond had become very quiet in class. He had always been very eager to participate and answer questions but now he was quite the opposite.

Miss Sally, the substitute, talked with Mrs. Broomfield often keeping her up to date with her students. She had mentioned Raymond’s behavior and this bothered Mrs. Broomfield. She knew he was a sensitive little one.

“Tell Raymond that I am on the mend and should be back to school soon. Until then I want him to keep an eye on things and to be your helper.”

Sally smiled and thought this was a fantastic idea. Keeping his mind busy would be a great thing especially with Christmas coming up. “I will tell him on Monday morning.” They hung up the phone with one another until Monday evening for a new update.

Monday morning came and Miss Sally had asked to speak to Raymond. His classmates thought for sure he was in trouble and you heard them chant, “Oh, Raymond is in trouble. Raymond is in trouble.” Miss Sally quickly shushed them.

Raymond looked at Miss Sally as she sat at her desk, “I talked with Mrs. Broomfield on Friday and she is asking a special favor from you. She would like you to help me as you had helped her. She is hoping to be back at school very soon until then you will be my special helper.”

Raymond smiled with delight. He accepted the new role as Miss Sally’s helper and he said, “I will do my best. Tell Mrs. Broomfield to hurry back until then I will help you as much as I can.”

That evening Raymond couldn’t wait to tell his parents of his new role in the classroom. “If you think of Miss Sally being the president then I would be the Vice President” His dad chuckled. “This is a very important job, you know. I know you will do good as the Vice President.

For the next few weeks Raymond and his classmates had one thing on their mind. With almost three weeks for their winter break from school and Christmas which was right around the corner, their excitement grew.

Mrs. Broomfield was told by her doctor she would be able to return to work just after the break. Miss Sally had shared the fantastic news with the students.

I will miss all of you,” she said. Especially you Raymond. You have been such a great help to me but I know you are all anxious to have Mrs. Broomfield back.”

Raymond stayed behind as the others headed to the lunch room. He wanted to talk with Miss Sally about his special gift for his teacher.

Miss Sally. Can I ask you for a favor?” Raymond’s face was serious. “Of course you can. What is it Raymond? Raymond drew in his breath and began. “Every year Mrs. Brookfield takes care of us. If we ever need anything then we can ask her. If she is able she gets what we need.” Miss Sally had heard this about his teacher.

“So what exactly do you want me to do? Raymond quickly ran over to his backpack which was on a hook by the door. He pulled out his piggybank and returned to Miss Sally.

“I have been saving my money for a long time and I want you to take it and buy Mrs. Broomfield a Christmas tree. I know she wasn’t able to get her own this year. she cannot have a Christmas without a tree.”

Miss Sally sat there absorbing Raymond’s words. At age eight he showed her the true meaning of Christmas. He could have asked for dozens of things but instead he thought of his teacher.

I think that is a fantastic idea. Let go one step further and the class can make all of the decorations and you can make the special star that sits on the top. I will deliver it on Friday.”

He hugged Miss Sally. “ I will miss you too.” He turned and ran towards the cafeteria with a huge smile on his face. He couldn’t wait to share the news with his classmates and tell his parents what he decided all on his own.

In class the next day the students busied themselves making decorations for their teacher’s tree. Miss Sally would go out that evening to purchase a small tree since Margaret’s apartment was small. She would bring it to class so the children could see it .

Raymond made the star for the top. He carefully glued sparkles all over it so the light on the trees would make it shimmer. He was proud of his masterpiece.

At the end of the day Miss Sally collected all the ornaments the children made. They even made a very long paper garland made of green and red construction paper. They felt it would add the perfect touch.

She promised the students she would deliver everything tonight. It was the last day of school and it was Miss Sally’s last day teaching their class. Each student hugged her as they left for winter break.

Sally knocked on Margaret’s door about six that evening. She carried a box of homemade ornaments in one hand and a small live tree in the other. “What’s all this,?” as she helped Sally with the box..

“All of this is from your students. It was Raymond’s idea. He wanted me to buy you a tree. He said Christmas isn’t Christmas without a tree.”

“He is so kind and I will miss that little one.” Margaret sat down on her sofa going though all the ornaments and reading the messages on the back.

The two women set the tree up and decorated it with all the student’s ornaments. Sally’s contribution was a string of holiday lights that glowed red, green and white.

Margaret stepped back and looked at the final product. She wanted to take pictures so she could show her students after break. “Wait. I have one more special thing from Raymond.” She went to her coat pocket and carefully unwrapped his shiny star for the top.

Sally handed it to Margaret so she had the honors of placing this precious star on the top. Both stood back in admiration. Not only for what the children made but what they did out of love for their teacher.

Tons of pictures were taken by both. Sally, so she could remember the students and Margaret so she can share them once she returned to school. They sat in silence, drinking coffee and eating sugar cookies while they looked at the tree. To each of them the tree stood for something but one thing they both agreed on, the tree stood for more than just a tree.

Written By: Angel

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Through the years Christmas somehow became commercialized. The true meaning seems to be washed away or hidden behind the frill.

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Vocabulary:

making it a big deal out of it – idiom:  to treat (something) as very important or too important

epitome – noun: a perfect example of a particular quality or type

generous – adjective: showing kindness toward others

demeanor – noun: outward behavior

eager -adjective: wanting to do or have something very much

sensitive – adjective: quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences

on the mend – idiom: improving in health or condition; recovering

delight – noun : great pleasure

fantastic – adjective: extraordinarily good

absorbing – adjective: intensely interesting

cafeteria – noun: dining room in a school or a business

shimmer – verb: shine with a soft light

Question ( s ):

What is the definition of Christmas for you?


The Little Red Truck

models of truck and trees

( Intermediate Level )

Nadine and her son, Vince, had been window shopping all day. Vince spotted a little red truck in the window of the toy shop in the town square. He would love to have it but Vince knew he couldn’t ask his mom. Christmas was just around the corner and would definitely ask Santa for this truck. At his tender young age, he knew things were a little tough this year for them.

Last year Nadine and her husband went through a divorce. She tried to keep things normal for Vince’s sake but it was too difficult.to make ends meet as a single parent. The two ended up moving back to her hometown where she grew up.

Clarksville hadn’t changed much since she was a little girl. Only one thing was missing, her mom. She had passed away two months ago leaving her dad at a loss. Moving back was a no-brainer for all involved. She hoped it would be temporary. She just needs to save enough time to save enough money and get a place of their own.

The first thing was getting a part-time job. She hadn’t worked since she gave birth to Vince. She was determined and talented so she didn’t worry too much. Small towns didn’t offer much in the way of great opportunities. Nadine wasn’t looking for anything special. She just wanted to provide for her son to the best of her abilities.

Her father could watch Vince while she worked and her son would be great company for her father. The loss he had just suffered would soften.

“Did you have fun today in town, Vince?” Grandpa asked as they arrived home. “Yes Grandpa. Mommy and I walked by the toy store and they had many decorations up. There was a sign that said Santa would visit on Sunday. I am going to ask Santa for the red truck I saw in their window. Grandpa, it was the brightest red truck I ever seen!” Little Vince couldn’t contain his excitement.

His grandfather chuckled. “Well maybe you can show it to me someday. I’d love to see this special red truck of yours. Now go upstairs and wash your hands. I heated up some soup for dinner, and I got you those animal shaped saltine crackers you like so much.” Vincent smiled and hurried upstairs to wash up.

Nadine looked at her dad. “I don’t want to disappoint him. I need to find a job dad. At this time of the year it will be difficult to find one. Try not to encourage him. I don’t have the extra money.”

“Santa hears all little boys and little girls wishes, Nadine. You never know.” Her dad smiled, turned and headed to the kitchen. Nadine stood there and shook her head in dismay. He obviously didn’t understand.

Vince talked to his grandfather about the red truck he saw then became preoccupied with the animal saltines in his soup. Nadine ate in silence. She enjoyed hearing her son’s excitement finally. He had taken the break up between her and her husband hard and didn’t quite understand why daddy wasn’t going to be around any longer.

As Nadine tucked her son in bed that night he asked mom if they were going to see Santa on Sunday. “Mom, we are going to see Santa on Sunday right? I want to ask him for that little red truck.”

“Of course we will go but Vince asking Santa for that truck now, so close to Christmas it may be impossible for him to fill the order. His elves work all year to make enough toys for everyone. So don’t get your hopes up ok?”

Vince smiled , “I love you mom.” He turned over and pulled the covers up over his shoulder. “Love you too.” She turned off the lamp by the bedside and headed out the door, closing it quietly behind her.

Nadine’s father was sitting in his favorite chair when she arrived downstairs. He had busied himself reading one of his favorite books, again. “Don’t you ever get tired of reading those books over and over again?”

Her father glanced up and shook his head. “Of course not. Classic books are meant to be read again and again.” He smiled and went back to reading. Nadine spent the remaining part of the evening quietly watching the television.

Today was going to be a big day. Vince and his grandson would head into town to pick out the perfect Christmas tree. Vince had woken up earlier than usual and dressed. He bounded downstairs wanting to get an early start.” You ready Grandpa?”

“It’s way too early . We will leave in a few hours. Maybe you can show me that special red truck today.” Vince took off his coat and mittens to sit down to a bowl of oatmeal his grandfather made for him. The sweet smell of brown sugar made Vince’s mouth water. His mom didn’t like him eating so much sugar but what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt.

Finally, Vince and his grandfather headed into town. For Vince it seemed an eternity but it was actually an hour and a half. Vince grabbed his grandfather’s hand and hurried him to the toy store. There in the window sat the infamous red truck. It sat amongst a tiny village and Christmas tree lot.

“See Grandpa, there it is.” Vince’s nose was pressed against the store’s window. “One day, when I grow up, I will own my own red truck. I want it to look just like this one!” Vince’s Grandfather looked down at his grandson. He saw how important this truck was to him. He would need to talk to the shop’s owner before Christmas.

From the toy store the two headed to the tree lot on the edge of town. “I want the tallest and fattest tree ever! “ They both laughed. After running up and down the aisles of trees to choose, Vince picked out the perfect blue spruce. Its needles shimmered the perfect blue green in the morning’s sunlight. It stood nearly ten feet tall.

“I hope we have room for this tree. I think you’ve picked the tallest tree they had here.” Vince was smiling from ear to ear. He couldn’t wait for his mom to see his tree.

After dinner the three decorated the tree. Topping it with Grandma’s favorite angel that grandpa had given her on their first Christmas together. Vince had fallen asleep on the sofa. His day was filled with excitement from the start to the end. Tomorrow will also be an eventful day. Vince would finally get to ask Santa for that little red truck.

Vince and Nadine stood in line to see Santa. Grandpa had told them he couldn’t make it. He had a prior engagement to go to. Of course, Vince was a little upset but he soon forgot as he stood in line with all the other boys and girls.

As they moved closer and closer to the front of the line Vince’s excitement grew. He could hear all the others ask for trains , dolls or a ball. There was something in Santa’s voice that sounded familiar to Vince but he shrugged it off.

He was finally there at the front of the line. He climbed up on Santa’s lap and was asked, “So, what do you want for Christmas, Vince.” Vince looked at Santa in amazement. He knew his name.

Vince looked out at his mom who stood in front with her cell phone recording every moment then at Santa again. ” I want a few things Santa. I want my mom to find a job. I know she worries about this and for my grandpa, I want him not to be so sad anymore. Grandma passed away and he has been very sad. And for me Santa, I want the little red truck I saw in the window at the toy store. Ever since I saw it I have wanted it.

Santa looked out at Vince’s mom and saw tears in her eyes. He thought, what a special young man she raised. “Well Vince, let me see what I can do for you. Merry Christmas.” He hugged Vince and gave him a candy cane as he climbed off of Santa’s lap.

Christmas was in a few days. Vince helped his mom bake sugar cookies and assemble a gingerbread house. The days flew by. Nadine had shown the video to her father of Vince meeting Santa.

“I thought there was something very familiar about this Santa and it wasn’t until I watched it for the second time that I realized you were Santa. I could see it in your eyes. Vince has your eyes.”

Her father looked at her. He smiled and winked. “I have been Santa’s helper for the past six years. It gives me something to do. This year I almost declined until you two came to stay with me.”

Nadine hugged her dad. This Christmas was turning out to be special and surprising. Her own son is selfless, wanting her and grandpa to be happy before him.

Christmas morning Vince had woken early running downstairs to see what Santa had left for him. To his surprise, there on the coffee table sat his little red truck with a tiny Christmas tree wrapped and sitting in its bed.

It wasn’t until years later when Vince headed off to college that he was told his grandfather was Santa that year and that truck signified more to his grandfather then he realized.

His mom told him that he brightened up his grandfather’s life when he most needed it. That one day when he was shown the truck and he picked out the biggest and fattest tree from the lot had given him the will to live on.

To this day, Vince still has that little red truck. Hoping to pass it on to his own son and telling him the story of his own grandfather being Santa’s helper that year.

Written By: Angel

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Sometimes, the smallest of treasures can hold the most memories.

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Vocabulary:

tender young age – idiom:  a time in your life when you are still young and lack experience

sake – noun: out of consideration for or in order to help someone

make ends meet – idiom: earn enough money to live without getting into debt

no-brainer -noun: something that requires or involves little or no mental effort

dismay – noun: surprise

preoccupied – adjective: preoccupied

classic – noun: recognized and established value

bounded – verb: walk or run with leaping strides

what (she) didn’t know wouldn’t hurt -idiom: if someone does not know about something, he or she cannot be damaged by it, blamed for it, etc.

eternity – noun: infinite or unending time

infamous – adjective: well known for some bad quality or deed

amongst – preposition: surrounded by; in the company of

shimmered – verb: shine with a soft tremulous light

shrugged it off – phrasal verb: ignore it or treat it as if it is not really important or serious

declined – verb: politely refuse 

selfless – adjective: concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own; unselfish

Question ( s ):

Do you have any holiday memories that you will share with generations to come?


Thanksgiving Will Not Be The Same

( Intermediate Level )

For years all the boys would make their way back home for Allister’s family Thanksgiving. This year Marge and Glen would have to celebrate without their eldest son, Brandon. He joined the military one year ago and had been stationed overseas after finishing boot camp.

Their other two sons, the twins, Mathew and Eric, were both attending the local university and staying in the dormitory. Each had confirmed they would be home since their school would be on a five-day holiday break.

Eric had asked if he could bring his girlfriend, Bernadette since she is from another state and she wouldn’t have time to go back home. “Of course,” his mom replied, ” No one should be alone for the holidays. Tell your brother he can bring a friend too.

Marge tried to keep her spirits up but this year she would miss Brandon. He chose to join the military instead of going to a university. He felt it was to his advantage for him to see the world while he was young and learn a trade. “There would be plenty of time to further my education, once I get out, Mom.

Reluctantly, and with Bill’s convincing, she felt her son had made a good choice. “Honey, he is grown now and he is making his own choices now. You knew this day would come.”

Shedding a tear, “It doesn’t mean I have to like it.” She smiled up at him as Bill wrapped his arms around her allowing her to cry on his shoulder.

Thanksgiving week was next week and Marge had busied herself with preparing Brandon’s bedroom for Eric’s girlfriend. She was then setting up a spare twin bed in Mathew’s room where the two boys would sleep.

The boys didn’t want her to fuss over them coming home but she wanted to keep her mind busy. They planned on heading home on Wednesday night after their last classes. “We are not sure what time we will be in so don’t hold dinner for us. We will grab something on the way home.”

“Well I will make plenty just in case you get hungry later on“. she told Eric. He shook his head and smiled as he talked with her on the phone. ” I figured as much. We will see you soon!” They hung up and Marge’s spirit was higher. She hadn’t seen her sons since Easter.

On Monday, Marge and Bill headed to the local grocery store to buy last-minute things they needed for their Thanksgiving dinner. Bill was in charge of the wine and eggnog while Marge looked for all the ingredients she needed to start baking.

When Glen caught up to her in one of the aisles he looked in the cart. “I thought you only needed a few things?” as he smiled. “You shush, I want to make a few pies, and a couple of homemade loaves of bread, and the rest of these things are for the dinner itself.”

The boys didn’t want you to fuss. I guess they forgot who you are!” She smiled back and the two headed to the checkout. Third, in line, they had plenty of time to make sure they had found everything they needed. As Marge surveyed the items in the cart she heard, “Hi neighbor.” Marge looked up to see her neighbor Delores and her husband standing in the net line.

I see you are doing the same as us. We had a friend of Craig’s friends come unexpectedly for the holiday. He is home from the Army. He will spend a short time with us and then go see his parents.”

Immediately, Marge thought how lucky that man was to be home for Thanksgiving. “Brandon said he was unable to come home now. He said he may be able to come home after the first of the year.”

Delores quickly changed the subject seeing it was making Marge sad. “It was nice seeing you. If you have time on Thanksgiving stop by for coffee and dessert in the evening.”

The twins will come home on Wednesday with a friend or two. If we have time, Glen and I would love to stop by.

That evening Marge busied herself making a couple of loves of whole grain loaves of bread and dinner rolls for the holiday dinner. She hadn’t given her conversation with Delores a second thought.

Tomorrow she had three pies to make. One apple, one pumpkin, and of course a pecan pie. It was one of Brandon’s favorites. Even though he wasn’t going to be home, a Thanksgiving wouldn’t be without having one of these pies.

Marge hoped all prep work would be done by Wednesday night and would leave her free to visit with her boys and their guests. Glen would want to have a card game for sure.

Everything came into place by Wednesday morning leaving Marge free to welcome her boys home. The smell of freshly baked pecan pies filled the air. She had to get up early to finish the last one.

It seemed senseless to have this particular pie since Brandon was the one who liked it the most. Hopefully, Eric’s girlfriend would, otherwise what it may get thrown away.

The phone rang and Glen answered. “Ok, I know your mom is anxious to see you. See you soon. He hung up and turned to Marge. “That was Mathew. Their classes were shorter today so they will be heading out within the hour. He said to expect them around three this afternoon.”

This put a smile on Marge’s face. She had made reservations at the Italian restaurant in town. Normally you wouldn’t need to make one but since it was the eve of Thanksgiving she wanted to make sure they were able to get a table.

Around three twenty the boys rolled into the driveway. Marge hurried out to greet them and smother them with kisses. Glen followed, allowing Marge to be first.

Eric introduced Bernadette to his parents. She was a beautiful young woman with auburn hair. “Thank you for allowing me to be part of your family’s dinner.”

“Nonsense, we wouldn’t want you to be all alone.” Marge gave her a hug. After mom got all her kisses, Glen made his way to his sons. They each shared a long hug with their dad.

Glen wasn’t one to shower you with pleasantries. Getting a high from him meant everything. You felt his love at that moment.

The rest of the afternoon they exchanged stories and settled in. Being home for five days and eating their mother’s food they would most likely gain a few pounds.

“What’s for dinner?” Marge laughed. It was the same old Mathew she remembers, who was always hungry. “I made reservations at Guido’s. I have a lot of cooking tomorrow and didn’t want to bother cooking tonight. Our reservation is at six so we need to leave here by five.”

That evening at dinner they all had a wonderful time telling stories. Some from the past and some recent. As each course finished the waitress came with a small spoon of sorbet for each to cleanse their palate.

Before they knew it two hours had passed and it was getting late. Marge needed to get up early to start cooking the twenty-seven-pound turkey. They enjoyed eggnog and cookies when they arrived home. Even though they claimed to be full, the boys managed to eat almost all of her homemade oatmeal raisin cookies.

“Good night everyone.” Marge hugged each of her boys and then turned to Bernadette. “If you need anything Glen and I are in the bedroom next to yours.” She gave her a hug too then headed upstairs.

Glen stayed up for another hour then he too bade them a good night. The rest followed within the hour. The boys knew their mother would be busy in the morning and wanted to help as much as possible.

The smell of turkey roasting in the oven woke the boys around nine. Bernadette was already up and in the shower. As they headed downstairs they heard a familiar voice. It was Delores from next door.

She was in a panic. The oven quit working halfway through roasting her turkey. She came over to see if their mom had room in the oven to finish cooking hers.

Of course, Marge made room and invited her and her husband and his friend to dinner. “We have more than enough food. On Monday when everything opens up you can call a repairman. No need to worry about Thanksgiving. You will spend it with us.

“Thank you, Marge. I wouldn’t know what to do without you. Have the boys come over to get the card table out of the garage in an hour. I will clean it up and we will have more area to put food. I had already cooked a lot of things last night.”

“Sounds good. Dinner will be at two.’ Delores hugged Marge and headed home smiling. Everything was working out.

Around one Delores came back to help with last-minute preparations. Potatoes needed to be mashed. Gravy needed to be made and vegetables needed to be steamed.” My husband and his friend will be here shortly. I knew you would need help so I came a little earlier.”

Bernadette and the boys set the tables. Each table had beautiful orange table clothes with burnt orange cloth napkins. The centerpieces were simple- a platter of ornate multi-colored gourds with a few leaves scattered as an accent.

The doorbell rang and Glen answered the door. He stood there in silence. There stood his neighbor and Brandon. For the past few days, Brandon schemed with the neighbors to surprise his parents.

“Marge. You need to come out here.” Glen said with urgency in his voice. “Marge, did you hear me?” “My gosh Glen, I am trying to finish up our dinner. What is so urgent that you insist I come leaving the gravy thickening?”

As Marge came closer to the door where Glen stood, he pushed the door completely open to expose who was on the other side.”Brandon! Oh my God, you made it home! She quickly threw her arms around him.

Mathew and Eric had no idea and came running once they heard their mother’s conversation with the person at the door. Many hugs and smiles followed.

Delores and her husband stood watching the scene unfold. “Happy Thanksgiving you two.” She hugged her husband and held him tight. She was happy to be part of Brandon’s plan to make this Thanksgiving special for his family.

Written By; Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

Of all the holidays we celebrate in America, Thanksgiving is the one I hold close to my heart. I have so many fond memories of our family dinners. Talking, eating, and catching up with one another then ending with a good game of cards. ( Mind you, I had a great aunt who liked to cheat at cards! )

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Vocabulary:

eldest – adjective : oldest

attending – verb: to be present

dormitory – noun: a room at a school for a student to stay

advantage – noun: favorable condition

reluctantly -adjective: unwilling, hesitant

convincing – adjective: capable of causing someone to believe that something is true or real

cry on (his) shoulder – idiom: to tell one’s troubles to someone in seeking comfort or sympathy

fuss over – phrasal verb : to pay a lot of attention to (someone or something)

spirit – noun: mood

ingredients – noun: contents,makings

shush -verb: a signal to be quiet

surveyed – verb: look carefully and thoroughly at

unexpectantly – adjective: surprising

anxious – adjective: a bundle of nerves

eve – noun: period of time immediately before an event or occasion

sorbet – noun: a dessert consisting of frozen fruit juice

palate – nouns: a person’s appreciation of taste and flavor

gourds – noun: a large round fruit with a hard skin

schemed – verb: make plans, especially in a devious way

Question ( s ):

Do you have a favorite holiday?

How about a memory associated with this holiday?


A Sense Of Peace

red leaf trees near the road

( Advanced Level )

Have you ever thought about the things that bring you the most joy? Or a sense of peace? Malina has. For her, it is walking down the path by her grandparent’s home, with the smell of autumn in the air. The trees are getting ready for the winter months ahead. Their leaves turn brilliant shades of orange and yellow before they fall from the tree leaving the trees barren.

Malina’s grandparents fled Poland to Romania with only a few personal belongings. They, along with thousands of others, walked and boarded ships to any destination as long as it was far away from the invasion. After two years without a country to call home, they settled in upstate New York by 1941.

The trip was arduous, testing every fiber of their being. Some days they felt they wouldn’t make it. Going days without food or rest. Going forward day by day, hour by hour. With the grace of a higher power, they made it.

Malina remembers these stories but at the time she was too young to really understand. It wasn’t until she talked to her mom to great lengths that she began to understand the journey her grandparents made during a time when their own country was in turmoil.

As an adult, Malina fully understands the hardships and sacrifices her grandmother had talked about every time she refused to eat vegetables or drink all her milk at dinner. “We were lucky to have a decent meal when we first came to America and here you want to waste food?

Malina turned to writing to fill her days once she retired. Her first book was about her grandparents. What they did allowed future generations of their family to live without fear of persecution.

If you had the opportunity to meet Martha or Abraham, you would never know that their lives had been in disarray back in Poland leaving them no choice but to leave. They never told others what they had seen or felt. The two were well-loved in the community and were always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need.

When they passed, a year apart from one another, the community felt a great loss. The two used to volunteer at the local food bank. On many occasions, they cooked meals at their own home for holidays. Making sure no one went without a warm meal. Malina’s mom had told her they didn’t want others to feel what they had felt going days without a warm meal.

Malina remembers her grandparent’s kindness and patience when it came to her. As an only child and spoiled she was used to getting her way but this was another story when it came to them and how she often tried to push their buttons. They never lost their patience insisting she does things as they said.

Despite her grandparent’s past, they had shown much love to everyone and everything around them. Malina was about nine, she thinks,, when she went to the grocery store with her grandmother. As they stood in line to pay for what they put in their cart her grandmother had eavesdropped on the conversation between a mother and her daughter who were ahead of them in line.

“Mommy can I have a candy bar?” the cute little girl with blonde curls had asked. “No honey. Sorry. I only have enough for these few things. Daddy doesn’t get paid until next month. Remember he just started his new job.”

This conversation tugged on her grandmother’s heartstrings and she interrupted and asked the little girl, “Which candy would you like?” The little girl looked up at her mother and saw her nod that it was ok to answer.

Can I have this one?” Martha smiled and gave the girl the candy then quickly handed the cashier money to pay for it. The cashier happily accepted the money and mouthed the words. “Thank You.” and smiled.

Each night Malina sits down at her la top to work on her novel paying homage to her grandparents. With a cup of coffee sitting beside her, the words flow through her fingertips as she remembers all the beautiful memories.

She was finally on her last chapter. Like her grandmother, she didn’t want to go into great detail about her grandparent’s life in Poland during the latter years before they left. Malina felt many knew of this dreadful time and felt there was no need to relive it. Instead, her focus was on Martha and Abraham the immigrants, and the life they created for themselves.

As she typed the last words she thought of her grandparents deboarding the ship and setting foot on American soil for the first time. Absorbing the new surroundings and finally feeling a sense of peace.

Written By: Angel

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Remembering our past, whether it is our own personal past or that of our ancestors, gives us a sense of who we are and why.

If you appreciate what I do, Please “Buy Me a Coffee”

I receive 100% of all donations

Vocabulary:

brilliant – adjective: very bright and radiant

barren – adjective: lifeless

fled – verb: run away from a place or situation of danger

invasion – noun: an unwelcome intrusion into another’s domain

arduous – adjective: involving or requiring strenuous effort; difficult and tiring

every fiber of their being – idiom: with all of one’s effort

journey – noun: traveling from one place to another

turmoil – noun: confusion, or uncertainty

hardships – noun: suffering

sacrifices – noun: the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone

decent – adjective: acceptable

disarray – noun: disorganization

lend a helping hand – idiom:  assistance

spoiled – adjective: allowed to do or have anything that they (child) want

pushed their buttons – idiom: to do or say something just to make someone angry or upset

eavesdropped – verb: secretly listen to a conversation

tugged on (her) grandmother’s) heartstrings – idiom: feel strong emotions, usually sadness or pity

homage – noun: special honor or respect

dreadful – adjective:  involving great suffering, fear, or unhappiness

relive – verb: live through (an experience or feeling, especially an unpleasant one) again

immigrants – noun: a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country

deboarding – verb: to leave a plane, train or ship

Question ( s ):

Do you remember any stories told by your grandparents or great grandparents?

Halloween 1971

( Intermediate Level )

Noreen saw her granddaughter staring out the window to the streets below. She was fascinated that the people looked like ants running back and forth. From the seventeenth floor, everything looked small.

Emilee and her parents just moved to the city. Her dad’s previous job had closed its doors and living in the country finding work was far and few between. He and his wife hated the idea of moving. They wanted to raise their children outside the city. For now, they only had Emilee, who just turned five, but they wanted more children in the future.

She hadn’t started school yet. Her birthday fell in October which meant she couldn’t start school until September of the next year.

By moving to the city she had left all her friends behind and her parents both working during the day all she had was her grandmother to entertain her. Noreen would take her to the park at least once a week or take shopping at the mall or just sit home to have a tea party with her dolls.

One of her favorite things she loved was having tea parties with Grandma. They always had cookies and milk to serve to their guests. One day Emilee had told her grandma, ” Mr. Bear loves the chocolate chip cookies the best and he would appreciate having them more often.”

The weather starts to cool off in October and Noreen dislikes the cold. Their playdates at the park would soon come to an end until spring comes back. This meant Grandma Noreen had to come up with another activity to occupy her granddaughter’s day.

“Tomorrow we will go shopping for a craft to do together or a puzzle maybe. What do you think, Emilee? It is getting too cold for Grandma to go outside so we won’t be going to the park again until springtime.”

“Can we go to the mall that has all the Halloween decorations? Daddy says we cannot trick or treat this year. He doesn’t know the neighborhood and said maybe next year we can go out.” Noreen agreed to take her to the mall.”

Over dinner that evening Emilee asked her grandma, “What Halloween was like when you were a little girl like me?”

‘It wasn’t as exciting as it is now. We didn’t have haunted houses or parties. When I tuck you into bed, I will tell you about a very special Halloween that my mother did for me. Now you finish eating your dinner. Your parents should be home from work shortly.”

Emilee finished dinner and had her bath. Her parents came home and visited before she headed to bed. As promised, her grandmother began to tell her of a very special Halloween.

“It was 1971 and my parents had moved to the city, the same city where I lived ever since. I married your grandfather here and had your father here.”

“When we moved here I was just about your age. I left all my friends behind, just like you.” Emilee was listening carefully. Her grandmother seemed to know how her granddaughter felt.

“It was, I think, late August when we made the move. We moved into a neighborhood that had many families but all the children were much older than I was.”

“We lived on the third floor in one of the older apartment buildings. I think it is gone now. I used to sit on the balcony and watch all the kids play but not one invited me to join them.”

“I sat and cried many nights wishing to move back to where all my friends were. My mother told me, Give it some time, honey. You will make tons of friends soon. I didn’t believe her.”

“Before you knew it October had come. Almost two months of sitting and watching. My mother had seen my unhappiness and tried to entertain me. One weekend we drove out of the city to a very well-known pumpkin farm. We could go out into the field and pick our very own pumpkin.”

“What happened there that day was truly magical. I saw my very first scarecrow. He sat by the entrance of the path to the pumpkin field, with an inviting smile. I remember looking into his eyes and feeling happy.”

“Come along Noreen. We need to pick out our pumpkin, I heard my mother saying. After walking up and down rows and rows of pumpkins, I found what I thought was the perfect pumpkin.”

“It was a bit too heavy for me to carry so my mom carried it back to the car. I remember stopping once more to look at the scarecrow. My mother hurried me along as it was about an hour’s drive back home and she wanted to get ahead of the traffic.”

“I remember glancing back one last time at the scarecrow before we drove away. My mother had noticed my fascination with it and asked me if I would want my very own scarecrow and he can sit out on the balcony with me?”

Emilee was laying on her side now with her head propped up by her hand. She was curious about this scarecrow. “Go on. What did you tell your mother?”

Noreen smiled down at her granddaughter. “Of course, I told her yes! The very next day we went to the goodwill store and picked out the oldest men’s clothes we could find. Pants, an old red plaid flannel shirt, a pair of old boots, and even found a straw hat. It was a little lopsided but we knew it would add character to our scarecrow.

“As we approached the check out to pay for everything I remember asking my mom what we could use to stuff Harry and what about his head?”

“Harry? You’ve given him a name already?

“The cashier heard our conversation and asked what we were making. I immediately told her Harry the scarecrow for Halloween. He will sit out on our balcony for everyone to see.”

Noreen glanced at Emilee to see if she had fallen asleep. She hadn’t. “That was a perfect name, Grandma. I would have called him Harry too!”

The cashier rang up all the items my mom and I had picked out. She kindly mentioned we could use a pumpkin for the head and if we wanted we could stop by her father’s place and get some straw to stuff the clothing with, to make the body.”

“She jotted down the address and phone number then handed a slip of paper to my mother. We thanked her and headed home.”

“That evening I could barely sleep. My mother had promised we would create Harry the next day after we picked up the straw.”

Emilee let out a loud yawn. “We can finish this story tomorrow.” She shook her head no. “I want to hear more about Harry.” Noreen smiled and continued her story.

I wasn’t sure what time I fell asleep but I know I woke before the sun was up. I remember staying in bed until my mother said goodbye to my dad as he left for work. “

I ran to the kitchen to find my mom having coffee at the kitchen table. When can we go to get the rest of the things for Harry? Mom looked at me with amazement. She asked how I could have so much energy in the morning?.

“I quickly answered her. It’s the day Harry comes alive just like the snowman in Frosty The Snowman.” Emilee knew which story her grandmother was talking about. “The snowman with the magical top hat that came alive once the hat was placed on his head. Right grandma? Noreen nodded.

“My mom had made my breakfast and tidied up the house before she made the phone call to the cashier’s dad. She finished the call and had come into the kitchen. I was just finishing my breakfast.”

“He said we can meet him around ten this morning. He also said he has a small pumpkin patch if we would like to pick out a pumpkin for Harry’s head. I couldn’t wait to leave. It seemed that time was moving slowly.”

We met John a little after ten. His home was on the outskirts of town, an area my mother rarely went to. So we didn’t make a mess in our apartment. He suggested we bring the clothes we wanted to stuff with straw.”

“I had held Harry’s clothes tight against me for the whole trip. I left the straw hat at home. This was the magical hat that would bring Harry alive for the Halloween season. I didn’t want anything to happen to it.”

“John was very helpful. He helped us stuff the clothes and even tied off the ends of the pants and sleeves with rope so the straw wouldn’t fall out. Then he walked us to his pumpkin patch. It wasn’t as small as we had thought nor was it as big as what we had seen on the TV.”

“Now, Noreen, you can pick any pumpkin you want. Just go up and down the rows until you find the perfect one for you. I looked up at my mom with a huge smile on my face and off I ran.”

“It seemed I ran for miles until I found the perfect pumpkin. It wasn’t too small or too big. And definitely, the straw hat would fit. I found it, I yelled. It’s perfect. I gently picked it up and carried it all the way back to where both John and my mother stood waiting.

Mom thanked John and his daughter for their kindness and they packed up everything to head home. I had given John a hug before I got in the car. I still remember his big belly and how hard it was for me to get my arms around him.”

“By the time we arrived home, mom had to start dinner, dad would be coming home shortly. Mom promised we would assemble Harry after dinner. I hurried and ate my dinner and asked to leave the table. I kissed dad and went to the balcony to wait for mom.”

“Finally, we assembled Harry on an extra chair. Once he was in the right position where people could see him from the street. I had the honor of placing his magical straw hat on his head. He looked better than the one we had seen at the pumpkin patch. That one didn’t have a straw hat. I was so proud of our creation.”

“The next morning I begged my mom to have my breakfast out with Harry. I sat there and talked with him as if he was a friend. As the days passed the neighborhood kids started to notice Harry. Some actually came close to get a better view and talked to me about him.”

Eventually the kids invited me to come and play with them. Sometimes they ate lunch with me and Harry out on the balcony. So the magic that Harry had was giving me the opportunity to make new friends in this big city.”

Grandma? Can we make our own Harry? One I can sit with?” Noreen looked into her granddaughter’s eyes, “Of course, we can. And you know what I have after all these years? Harry’s straw hat. I kept it with me, hoping to build a Harry for my children but life got too busy. So kiddo, you and I will build our scarecrow tomorrow.”

“Now it is time to go to sleep.” Noreen bent down to give Emilee a kiss good night. Her granddaughter threw her arms around her neck and whispered, “You’re the best grandma in the whole world.” Emilee turned over and pulled the covers over her shoulder.

Noreen turned off the bedside lamp and turned around to see her son, Emilee’s father, standing there at the door. “ I agree with her. Not only are you the best grandma in the world but I think you are a darn good mom too“, her son said as she passed him at the door. He bent forward and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

Memories are precious and worth sharing with the next generation.

If you appreciate what I do and want to see this site continue, ‘”Buy Me A Coffee”

I receive 100% of all donations!

Vocabulary:

fascinated – adjective: attracted and interested

far and few between – idiom: infrequent

entertain– verb: provide amusement or entertainment

playdates – noun: a time or date when children play together

occupy – verb: fill the mind or thoughts

decorations – noun: ornaments

balcony – noun: an upper floor area in apartments where one can sit outside

scarecrow – noun: an object made to resemble a human figure, set up to scare birds away from a field where crops are growing

fascination – noun: excitement

curious – adjective: eager to learn or know something

lopsided – adjective: disproportioned

amazement – noun: surprise or wonder

tidied up – phrasal verb: arrange or small cleaning

outskirts – noun: the outer parts of a town or city

Question ( s ):

Do you have a special memory of a holiday growing up?

Conduit

( Intermediate Level )

His English name is Billy and this is what his ESL teacher, Miss Clara, calls him. This is her second year seeing this young boy and his demeanor had changed dramatically since the year before.

Last year, in class, he listened carefully, participated when he could, and usually sat quietly in the classroom. This year it wasn’t so.

It was the beginning of the new school year and Miss Clara saw familiar faces and new ones. Billy’s was one. He made it a point to say hello and greet her with his usual high five and wonderful smile. This is the Billy she remembers.

It takes a few weeks of the new school year to have a permanent teaching schedule given to you. This allows the school time to work out the classroom sizes, and the amount of native English teachers available.

In the first few weeks, Miss Clara hadn’t seen Billy in any of her classes. It wasn’t until the fifth week had she received her permanent schedule and the classes she was responsible for.

As she followed her new schedule and alternating classes she discovered Billy was in her assigned classes along with other familiar faces. He was happy to see her and reached out for his usual high five.

On her first day teaching this class she noticed Billy had kept to himself more than before. She chalked it up to it being the beginning of the school year and everyone, staff and students alike, was adjusting.

It wasn’t until her third or fourth time in his classroom, that she noticed her once quiet student, from last year, was now very disrupted. He would stand up and flail his arms about, mumbling words that no one could understand, sometimes hitting himself about the body and head.

What had happened to make these changes in this student of hers? It is very difficult to get answers from other staff members, especially in a foreign country. Either they don’t question why or they assume he is a special needs student.

Clara was saddened to see this behavior in Billy. How was she to teach him now? She did the best she could. Involving him when she could and leaving him alone when he had his bad days, hoping he was listening when she taught.

As the weeks went by this same behavior continued until an incident happened that shook Clara. She kept her thoughts to herself for a while knowing the world is full of naysayers.

On this particular day, Billy was having a horrible day. He was unusually loud and physical. His homeroom teacher went to his desk not once but twice to quiet him. She motioned for him to get something out of his desk.

There are two students in this class who when they act out are to get out their small desktop whiteboards and write, draw, scribble, or whatever they choose to do. This is what his teacher asked him to retrieve.

Billy followed her instructions and he began to write something with great passion. He stood up and carefully showed the class what he wrote. Turning so as not to miss anyone seeing what was written.

He sat down and the class turned their attention once more to Miss Clara. She looked over at Billy and saw he was intent on what was on his whiteboard.

For the second time but much quieter, Billy stood up showing the class what was on his board. This time he made sure Miss Clara had seen.

What she read was unbelievable and no one knew what it truly meant except for Clara. She remembered seeing those words before.

Her morning teaching assistant and her locked eyes for a moment and she rolled her eyes. Clara thinks she must not truly understand.

For the remaining time of the English class, Billy sat quietly and Clara couldn’t wait to go on break so she could check on the internet to verify.

Tick tick tick the minutes went by. Miss Clara said goodbye to her students making sure to give Billy a high five. She was happy he responded. It was as if he was content with his mission of showing the class and her his message.

Clara sat at her usual bench outside pulling her cell phone out of her bag. She loved sitting there as it was in the sunshine plus the students would come down for their recess time soon., She loved watching them play.

She typed in the words she read on Billy’s whiteboard. She really tried to grasp the fact the words were above his grade level, they were written in English and with amazing penmanship and not a single spelling error.

She typed in the words he wrote “Korean International Flight 801”. Sure enough, this was a devastating plane crash that happened in 1997 before Billy was born.

She sat there just staring at the article. Trying to make sense of it. How can he know of such an event? How did he know how to spell it correctly? We are talking about a young boy at the age of seven soon to be eight. Not to mention his low-level English ability.

She finally shared this incident with her teaching assistant for her upper classes. He listened carefully and added his thoughts, “This student could have come across an article on the internet or heard someone talking about it.

This could all be true but things weren’t adding up. It was not a recent event and she quickly realized the conversation would go nowhere with her assistant. She shrugged it off and changed the subject.

That evening she thought about the incident once more and thinks that maybe it may have been one of the victims of this disastrous flight using Billy as a conduit from the other side. He or she wanted to get a message to someone on this side.

Maybe Billy has a special gift that he doesn’t quite understand. No one will ever know unless he discovers this himself. For now, Miss Clara feels honored that she witnessed this firsthand and shares her story with others that believe.

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

Usually, my writings are about life and circumstances that revolve around us as humans. Today’s story is a situation that hit close to home for me.

This story is 100% true. I was the teacher to this young boy. I have changed the names of those involved and will not share real pictures.

Can I say without a doubt what I think is happening is true? Absolutely not. I believe some people have the gift of spiritual connections and being a conduit for those on the other side.

If you appreciate what I do and would like to see this site continue, “Buy me a coffee”

I receive 100% of all donations

Vocabulary:

demeanor – noun: behavior

dramatically – adverb: large extent

participated – verb: take part in an action

chalk (ed ) it up – phrasal verb: to consider something as being caused by something else

flail – verb: to wave or swing arms wildly

mumbling – adjective: speaking in an indistinctive way

naysayers – noun: a person who criticizes, objects to, or opposes something

motioned – verb: direct or command (someone) with a movement of the hand or head

intent – noun: purpose

locked eyes – idiom: used to say that someone is looking at someone or something and not looking at anything else 

content : happiness

devastating – adjective : destructive or damaging

disastrous – adjective: causing great damage

conduit – noun: a channel

firsthand – adjective: personal experience

Question ( s ):

Do you believe?

One Step, One Dance

red flower fields

( Intermediate Level )

Each morning Amy asks herself what she is grateful for and she answers, “Clint. His love and his amazing courage and his sheer strength to overcome difficulty.”

She married the love of her life at age twenty-one. They bought an older two-bedroom home in the countryside. It was far from Clint’s work but he felt when the two decided to have children, he wanted them raised outside the big city.

After three and a half years of marriage, he was heading to work as he did every day and a semi-truck lost control causing a huge six-car pile-up. Clint’s vehicle was one of the vehicles involved in the accident.

Clint was hospitalized for months due to multiple fractures in his spine and a broken left leg. The doctors were concerned that he may not walk again. There was a lot of swelling and it was too early to tell. Every moment of her day Sally was by his side at the hospital.

She encouraged him when he had physical therapy and on those days when he felt he was less of a man or husband. “You’re young and beautiful and you shouldn’t be wasting your time with me. Go and find a man who can take care of you properly.”

“Clint, you quit talking like that. I will do no such thing. I am your wife and you are my husband. For better or worse, right?” She kissed him on the forehead and continued massaging his legs as he sat in his wheelchair.

“You realize I may never walk again or never be the same man you married. The doctors cannot promise anything.” He looked down at her to see her reaction.

“Either way Clint, we will make this work. I already had someone build a ramp so when you come home we can get you in the house without any problem. I moved our bed closer to the wall to have enough space for your wheelchair just in case.”

“Stop worrying. All I want is to have you home with me so keep trying your best. For me. I miss you not being at home with me.”

Clint, like most men, felt he wasn’t a proper man if he couldn’t provide for his wife. Go to work. Does the handyman work around the house? Instead, his wife, the love of his life, would have to take care of him. This didn’t agree with him and saddened him when he thought of it.

He would try his best to make a full recovery. He honestly didn’t want his wife to see his struggles but she insisted he come home to be with her. This meant she would have to take care of him around the clock until he was able to do it for himself.

The doctors had told him if he continued to make progress and everything was stable he would be released from the hospital in a week or a week and a half. Being a man of thirty-two he was still quite strong and healthy. This was a plus on his side.

Amy spent most of her day by his bedside. Going home in the evenings and returning as he was having breakfast. She would bring him some of her biscuits and gravy or an omelet since he didn’t care for hospital food.

His doctor always made early hospital rounds. If they had any questions this was the time to ask them. It was always the same question. “When can my husband come home?” from Amy or “When can I go home doc?” Clint chimed in usually.

The day finally came. Clint was discharged from the hospital. He was given a schedule to follow for his physical therapy. “Time is important, Clint. Follow this schedule and don’t miss a session. If you want the best chance to walk again, please do as I say.”

Clint agreed to do as the doctor told him to do. He was elated to finally be going home. Amy assured the doctor that her husband would follow the schedule. She knew the importance of this matter.

Clint’s father was at their house upon arrival. He had retired a few months earlier so he was able to make the drive to his son’s place. Clint’s mom still had obligations at work for another six months before she could actually get away and they both agreed it may be easier for their son if only dad had come.

The trip home had made Clint tired and he wanted to rest a bit before visiting with his dad. He wheeled himself to their bedroom and sat there in his wheelchair for a moment taking in the surroundings.

A new bedside commode was situated by their bed. A urine bottle hung on the headboard. There was a trapeze put into place hanging just above the head of the bed to help him get in and out of bed easier.

His room looked like a hospital room. He shook his head and pulled himself onto the bed. He laid there for a moment or two thinking this crap had to go as soon as possible. It made him feel more of an invalid than he imagined.

His father stayed two weeks and was a great help to him and to Amy. She was able to go into town to take care of business and buy groceries without worrying about Clint. Father and son were able to spend quality time together.

“I hate this Dad. You have to babysit me. I should be the one who takes care of you and mom now that you are getting older.”

“Who are you calling old?” His dad wanted to make the conversation more upbeat. He felt how embarrassed his son was needing help to do the minor things we tend not to think about doing like reaching for the coffee pot on the kitchen counter.

“It will be around as long as you let it be around, Son. It is up to you to do all the work to make yourself like you were before that terrible accident. We can be here to help you but you have to do most of it yourself” Clint shook his head in agreement. He knew what his dad said was the truth.

The next few months were exhausting and sometimes painful. Many times he wanted to give up and his father’s words echoed in his head. “We can be here to help but it is up to you.”

Once a month, Clint would see his doctor. He was pleased with the notes he read from the physical therapist. “Your therapist thinks you will be ready to bear weight on those legs of yours with braces.”

“As early as next week she will start you off with a few steps if you can handle it. Hopefully, your legs will build up their muscles again and the braces can come off. In another four to six months maybe you will not need therapy or that wheelchair.”

Clint knew this meant a lot of hard work was heading his way but he was determined to be back to his normal self as soon as possible. He had a plan to surprise his wife. Their four-year wedding had passed recently.

He wanted to have a night out with her but the wheelchair restricted what he had in mind. He was still determined to make it happen. It would be a little late in coming. With his parent’s help and his determination, it will be possible.

As the doctor forecasted, Clint began his weight-bearing between two bars in the therapy room. The first time he tried to have his legs hold his weight they nearly buckled underneath him.

He couldn’t believe how difficult this was. It was just months prior he was walking and wrestling with his wife for fun. Now his legs won’t hold his body up. He was frustrated.

“It will get easier. Your legs haven’t worked in a few months. Your spine has healed now you have to believe in yourself and do it.”

Clint looked at his therapist with dismay. It was easy for her to say these things. How could she know his pain and frustration? Maybe it was a standard thing she said to all her patients.

Each day Clint made a little more progress. One step then another. It was like a child beginning to walk for the first time. He looked up to the therapist and his wife to see their excitement for him just as a baby would.

This went on for many sessions. One step then another until his legs held up his body for the whole length of the bar. It was a great milestone for him. “Are we ready to take these damn braces off my leg yet, Doc?

“Not yet Clint. Let’s give it at least a week more than we can try without the braces. We can’t rush things now. Have patience.” This isn’t what Clint wanted to hear. He wanted those damn restrictive braces off. As much as they helped his legs hold up his body they also limited his movements.

After what seemed to be a lifetime, Clint had his leg braces taken off for his therapy session. As he took his very first step he felt his leg muscles strain to hold up his weight.

It was an odd sensation for him to step and feel so unstable. He thought he was strong enough to do this but now he has doubts.

It is normal what you are feeling. It will take a while for your brain to tell your legs what to do. Don’t give up now. You have come this far.” His therapist had seen his frustration and disappointment.

Sometimes his therapist’s positivity annoyed him. How can she be so enthusiastic if she couldn’t feel what he felt? She hadn’t let him down at all so he continued to do as she said and tried to keep positive.

Clint saw his wife’s smile and in her eyes, he could see the worry. How he admired her. She had never given up on him. It gave him the strength to keep pushing forward.

On Monday, he was to see his doctor again. Clint knew his doctor would read the reports and see the progress he had made over the past few months. Again, he found himself childlike, needing verbal confirmation he was doing great.

“If this progress continues you shouldn’t need therapy after a month. Your therapist says you are doing much better than she anticipated at this stage.” These words gave Clint the spark he needed to try even harder in the upcoming sessions.

That evening, Clint called his father telling him the good news. “Remember what we talked about?” His father acknowledges the conversation.” Well, I want to put things in motion. Can you do this for me?”

“Do you think you should wait? Maybe a month?” His father said with apprehension in his voice. “No, I want this dad. Amy deserves this. She has been by my side throughout these past few months. I want to show her how much I appreciate her.”

They hung up the phone and Clint rolled his wheelchair into the living room where he found his wife busy watching a movie. She was snuggled up on the sofa with a cup of hot cocoa on the coffee table.

How are your parents? she asked. “They’re doing fine and my dad was happy to hear the news of my progress. They’re planning on coming in about a month to see us.” He knew she was half listening to him. She was busy watching her movie.

The day came when Clint no longer had to rely on his leg braces. The therapist suggested he keep the wheelchair around for another month or so just in case he needed it.

After months of therapy sessions, she said she was no longer needed. “You have all the knowledge and you know what you are capable of. As time passes you will be better than today. I am only a phone call away if my services are needed again but let’s hope not.”

“No Doc, I will not be back,” with his wife by his side and with the help of two walking canes, he walked out of the therapy room on his own. Taking one step after another. He used the canes only for balance leaving his own two legs to work on their own.

His parents arrived at their house that evening and Clint’s mom smothered him with hugs and kisses. She felt terrible she had not had the time to help him through his journey.

Clint was able to speak with his father on the sly asking him if everything was in place. “Yes, everything is set for Saturday night. I contacted everyone and they will help.”

Amy had no idea what Clint had planned. All she knew was he wanted to go to his favorite restaurant on Saturday and have real food. A real steak.

He loved this place because of its atmosphere. It had live music and a dance floor. She figured it would be a relaxing night out with his parents and a way for him to feel normal once again.

Saturday night came and the foursome headed to the restaurant. Clint had put on a nice dress shirt and had his haircut that day with his father. It was the perfect excuse for the two of them to check on the arrangements that were placed over a week ago.

They pulled up in front of the building and Amy noticed how many cars were in the parking lot. “We may not get a table. It seems it is quite busy tonight.”

It will be ok, “he chimes in. As they entered Amy heard the band playing and as she came around the corner she noticed her friend and family had filled all the tables.

Across the staging area where the DJ stood, a banner was strung across. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY AMY and CLINT. Amy quickly looked over at her husband and she saw he was smiling ear to ear.

They made their way to the front of the room where a special table was set for the anniversary couple and his parents. Everyone in the room applauded as they walked through the room.

A few moments passed and the DJ was heard asking Clint to come to the front. Clint stood and instead of grabbing for his canes, he took the steps towards the DJ unaided.

The DJ handed him the microphone and Clint turned towards Amy and the crowd. “After months of dedication, I am able to stand here in front of all of you and especially my wife who never left my side.”

“Our anniversary passed and I wanted this night to be special for her to show how much I love her and thank her for loving me.” He turned to hand the microphone back to the DJ and extended his arm out to his wife.

The DJ started the song. Stand By Me. The words echoed, “Whenever you’re in trouble, just stand by me.” Amy held her husband tight as she swayed to the music and whispered the words of the song to her husband.

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts from Angel:

I admire anyone who overcomes an obstacle in their life. Whether it is big or small they do not let it stop them from living life.

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Vocabulary:

sheer – adjective: completely

grateful – adjective: feeling or showing

countryside – noun: rural

semi-truck – noun: a combination of a tractor/truck unit with a trailer carrying freight

fractures – noun: the cracking or breaking of bones

discharged – verb: allowed to leave

elated – adjective: happy

obligations – noun: commitment

trapeze noun: a horizontal bar hanging by two ropes or chains

invalid – noun: a person made weak or disabled by illness or injury

minor – adjective: less important

exhausting – adjective: tiring

restricted– adjective: limited

forecasted – verb: predict

weight-bearing – noun: supporting the weight of something

dismay – noun: distress

milestone – noun: event marking a significant change 

sensation – noun: feeling

positivity – noun: to be positive 

enthusiastic – adjective: eager

keep pushing forward -idiom: continue doing something

anticipated – verb: to predict

put things in motion – idiom: to begin

half listening – idiom: to not listen closely

atmosphere – noun: mood of the situation

unaided – adjective: no assistance

Question ( s ):

Have you or anyone you’ve known gone through physical therapy?

Can you imagine the frustration of not being able to do things that you had normally done in the past?

Special

a young girl in white shirt

( Intermediate Level )

As Miss Jenny arrived all the students but one chimed, “Good Morning Miss Jenny.” Minh was deep in her activity to see her teacher arrive. The system titles her as a special needs student but Miss Jenny just tells her and her classmates she is special.

Most of Minh’s classmates had the compassion to help her feel part of the class. There was one student, Nam, who could care less about her.

Every time the class had an activity she was given a head start or some type of an advantage to allow her to do better than she would otherwise. This just made Nam mad.

“Today everyone will review our vocabulary words. First, let’s play the memory game. I will face all words backward on the board and you will have to find the word I say. If you find the word and use it in a sentence correctly then you will earn your team an extra point.”

Nam let out a sigh, “Miss Jenny I don’t want her on my team.” he pointed at Minh who was still deep into her own activity but looked up at Nam as he talked. “Move her over to the other side. She will make us lose. She is stupid!”

This was not the first insult towards Minh out of Nam. Jenny usually ignored his complaints but today she didn’t. She saw Minh’s face as she realized Nam meant her. Did she understand? Maybe not but Jenny did and it made her stomach sick.

She wondered how Nam came to be who he was at such a young age. At ten years old his innocence was gone. “Well, Nam just because you said that I will move her to the other side and make her the captain of Team Two.”

This made Nam giggle out loud. He won this battle with Miss Jenny. What he didn’t realize was that Minh was very good at remembering things. Especially when it involved visual cues.

Miss Jenny moved Minh to the opposite side of the room and her new teammates welcomed her. Jenny quickly showed her students all the vocabulary words then mixed them up and put them on the board facing backward. She numbered them one through twenty.

“Ok, now let’s have one from each team do rock paper scissors to see which team goes first.” Nam quickly stood up and Minh’s new teammates elected her. The two faced off and Nam won. He was gloating as he went back to his seat.

Seems Team One goes first.” Nam quickly stood as he elected himself to be the first. “Where is the pencil case?” Nam looked at the board and said , “Number eleven.”

Miss Jenny turned over the word for eleven. “Oh, I am sorry it is not a pencil case.” Nam sat down and Jenny looked toward Team Two. “Who will go first here?” Minh shook her head. She didn’t want to go first.

Another classmate raised her hand and stood. “Number seven.” It was not a pencil case. This went on for a few rounds. Each student is trying to find the vocabulary word pencil case.

Finally, a member of Team One found the word pencil case. “Yeah!” Nam was happy his team got the first two points. The extra point for using the word in a sentence.

Minh watched the board carefully as each vocabulary word was turned over in search of the pencil case. As Miss Jenny calculated, Minh knew exactly where each of the following vocabulary words was when asked to find them.

The score now was Team One fourteen points and Team Two twenty – six points with Minh finding or helping her team member find the vocabulary word that was next to find.

Nam’s mood had changed and he was annoyed that his own team hadn’t done better. Miss Jenny had noticed this change and inside she felt this would be a lesson Nam would remember.

She glanced over at Minh who sat there calmly. With only two more vocabulary words to find and turn over it is a given Team Two won this activity. She wasn’t rubbing it in Nam’s face that her team obviously won.

Team One found one of the remaining two vocabulary words and Team two the other. Team Two won!Miss Jenny said. All the team members clapped and showed their thanks to Minh who had helped them a great deal.

As the teacher glanced over at the other team they too were celebrating the other team’s win except for Nam who sat there in silence.

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

This is an actual event that took place in my classroom. Instead of pointing out the fact I let the student realize it himself what a grave mistake he made by judging his fellow classmate.

(Names were changed)

If you appreciate what I do and would like to keep this site going,

“Buy Me A Coffee”

I receive 100% of all donations

Vocabulary:

chimed – verb: resounded

special needs student – noun: various difficulties (such as a physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning disability or impairment) that causes an individual to require additional or specialized services

compassion – noun: sympathetic pity and concern

advantage – noun: a condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable or superior position

insult – verb: speak to or treat with disrespect 

ignored – verb: refuse to take notice of or acknowledge

visual cues – noun: concrete objects, pictures, symbols, or written words that provide a child with information about how to do a routine, activity, behavior, or skill

gloating – adjective: dwelling on one’s own success or another’s misfortune

calculated – adjective: done with full awareness of the likely consequences

annoyed – adjective: irritated

rubbing it in (his/her) face – idiom: to boast to make someone someone feel bad

a great deal – phrase : large amount

Question ( s ):

How would you have handled this situation?

His Legacy Lives On

( Intermediate Level )

The rangers called him Amari. Even in aging, he holds himself with dignity. He is one of the original male lions brought to the protection of the private game reserve.

He and his pride traveled too close to a neighboring village making the people too uneasy. In fear for him, he was relocated within the reserve’s boundaries, where there was safety from the farmer’s wrath.

That was over eleven years ago. Now Amari watches over the savannah that belongs to him. This is where he has lived with his pride and sired many cubs with little to no worries of man.

In his day, he had outwitted many poacher traps and won many battles against intruding males. As an older lion, his battle days are just about over.

His face and body bare the scars of battles past. Even with his days numbered, he will keep protecting his pride and all his young until he takes his last breath.

There was a time when he was one of those young males collecting females from others. He fought and defeated many, killing their young and taking their lionesses with him building his own pride.

Over recent years the savannah’s temperature has continued to rise to make it difficult to hunt. Many of the herd populations, like the zebra and gazelle, have decreased. Their newborns were unable to make the trek across the dry and barren wilderness in search of water. They were leaving carcasses scattered for the scavengers.

Even his own pride suffered losses. Lionesses were unable to find prey to kill leaving them incapable of nourishing their cubs. The cubs become frail and die. As terrible as it may sound, the dead provide some nourishment for her and the others.

Many question the practice the rangers do. They do not interfere with the natural life cycle of any of the game animals found at their facility. In a case of a serious disease, they will administer the proper medication or dispose of those infected.

Is this fair? Some will argue no but without this protection, many would fall to the poacher’s snares or be needlessly killed as a trophy for someone’s wall.

Amari lived his life under the supervision of humans and lived his life to the fullest. His legacy lives on within his young.

Written by: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

This story was written so you can debate the pros and cons of games reserves versus living wild and free or in a zoo.

Animal populations around the world are in dire need. Every day another animal is added to the endangered list. Their habitats are being destroyed by man’s developments. Can we not come up with a solution?

Without help from humans, and responsible breeding programs, I believe many animals from around the world would completely disappear.

Vocabulary:

dignity – noun: worthy of honor or respect.

wrath – noun: extreme anger

savannah – noun: a grassy plain

sired – verb: cause a pregnancy resulting in the birth

outwitted – verb: defeat by greater ingenuity

poacher – noun: one who kills or takes wild animals illegally

bare – adjective: a large amount or number of

days (are) numbered– idiom: used to say that someone or something will die, fail, or end soon

trek – noun: journey

barren – adjective: not productive

carcasses – noun: the dead body of an animal

frail – adjective: weak

dispose – verb: get rid of 

snares – noun: a trap for catching birds or animals, typically one having a noose of wire or cord

supervision – noun: the action of watching something

legacy – noun: passed on

Question ( s ):

Share your thoughts: wild and free versus under the protection of game reserves versus zoo life.

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IMAGINE ~ CREATE ~ WRITE

Jia Li

woman wearing eyeglasses

( Intermediate Level )

Jia Li’s dream was to study abroad once she reached the university level. She did very well throughout her educational career and received top scores. Her greatest achievement was an overall band score of 8.0 on her IELTS on her first try.

Unfortunately, her family, mainly her father, had something different in mind when it came to her. She was their only child and she tried to argue her point of view but it fell on deaf ears.

All she could do was dream about what it would have been like if she was able to attend a university in another country. Jia Li dare not disappoint her family. Especially her father. He was the most traditional of everyone she knew.

She asked him once, “Why are you stuck in the old ways, Baba? The world around us is changing.” All she had in response was a stern glare and grumbling under his breath.

She never pressed the issue with him anymore. It was quite obvious how he felt. Her mother always sided with her husband. It was easier for her. So instead she gave up her dream.

Jia Li had one person in her life who listened to her and encouraged her. This was her native – speaking English teacher, Rebecca Adams, who had been her teacher and mentor for over six years.

The one thing she didn’t understand was why her father would hold Jia Li back after all she achieved academically. “What is the worst that would happen if you applied to a university and were accepted? You’re the only child and surely he would not disown you.”

“For now I think it is best I stay here and attend at least two years in one of our universities. I will try asking him again towards the end of the second year. Maybe he will soften his view.”

“My job is done with you. You will soon go off to school again and I need to move on. You are this teacher’s pride and joy.” She smiled at Jia Li and told her to keep in touch. This was a promise Jia Li aimed to keep.

The emails came frequently at first. Jia Li made sure to tell Rebecca about her classes and her teachers. As time passed the correspondence was more occasional.

Ms. Adams had returned to America as she felt she was away from her family too long. How long she would stay would be determined in the future. Her parents were getting up there in age so she wanted to stay around for a few years.

Rebecca remembers one of the latest emails from Jia Li. She wrote her father had become ill with cancer, and the doctors said they had done all they could do for him.

She also mentioned that her father had given her added pressure to get married and have a child before he died.

“Rebecca, it is close to the end of my second year and I have sent out applications to many universities abroad. I feel this is my last chance to follow my dream but with my father and his cancer I must stay. My mother will need me.”

When Rebecca read this her heart sank. She knew how long and hard she had worked but she understood. The end was inevitable for her father but it could be the beginning for Jia Li.

She wrote back and gave her deepest sympathies for what she and her family was going through. She ended her email with a few simple lines.

My sweet Jia Li,

I have watched you grow up and become the person you have become. I am so glad I was chosen to be your teacher, your mentor, and your friend.

I know whatever choice you make in life you will surely succeed. I do not truly understand fully why your father held you back from the very beginning.

In my eyes, a parent should want more for their child than they had. Maybe this is one of the subtle differences between our cultures.

I hope you continue to keep in touch as you hold a special place in my heart. Please give my best to your parents.

Forever your friend,

Rebecca

As she tapped the send key Rebecca wondered if her former student would marry and have a child just to make her father happy.

As the months passed, Rebecca went on with her life. She managed to land a position at the university in which she graduated, teaching English to foreign students.

Once in a while, something or someone in her class would trigger a memory of Jai Li, and hoped she was doing well. She knew she would reach out once she could. Right now her family needed her.

The school year ended and Rebecca took her parents on vacation to Florida. Her mother’s sister and her husband had retired there. They spent a few weeks with them then traveled on to Georgia where her father’s brother lived.

It was a nice getaway for all of them. Rebecca would return to work in a month and a half. She was asked to return for another year which made her very happy. Maybe in another year or two, she would entertain working abroad again.

She hadn’t thought about moving out of her parent’s home. It was convenient for everyone. Her parents could rely on her and it was only twenty minutes from work. It was a win – win situation,

When the trio returned from their vacation they all sported a dark tan from the beautiful sunshine of Florida and Georgia. They hadn’t had a family vacation together in years.

While on vacation, Rebecca didn’t check her emails or social media. It was a time for her to detach from everything and unwind. She would have a week before work started up again and she was expecting anything urgent enough to interrupt their vacation.

The second night back Rebecca sat at her computer going through all her emails. She scrolled down and read what she felt was important and the rest she would leave for another time.

She kept scrolling through until one caught her eye. It was from Jia Li. She opened it and began to read.

“I wanted to write you a few shirt lines to let you know I am alright. I am sorry I haven’t written before now but you have always been on my mind.

Sadly, my father passed almost twenty days ago, and towards the end, he wasn’t himself. In my eyes, he had always been a strong determined man but he gave up. He was too tired to fight any longer.

I have been helping my mother deal with things here. They had been married for almost thirty – seven years and knew each other since grade school. She not only lost her husband but her best friend.

I do have a huge surprise for you and I cannot wait to share this news with you. When I have more time I will share this.”

Miss you,

Jia Li

Rebecca read through her email twice and she wondered what the surprise was. It was too soon for her to have a baby but maybe she married and became pregnant to satisfy her father’s wishes.

Either way, she would be supportive and happy for her. It was not up to her to judge something she really didn’t understand.

The final week of her vacation passed by too quickly. Before she knew it she was back at school prepping for the upcoming school year and the students.

She had over three hundred students assigned to her this year. Almost one hundred more from last year. She wouldn’t know until the first week of classes how many actually would come.

The week went by and Rebecca is ready for next week’s students. She made copies of her syllabus and her classroom rules along with the guidelines for the three student essays that they would be assigned.

She sat there going over everything once again and a staff member walked into her room. “Hi Rebecca, there is someone here to see you and I told her classes didn’t start until next week but she is insisting she speak with you tonight.”

“It’s ok. I am just about to leave. I will take a few minutes to speak with her before I head home. Thank you for letting me know.”

Rebecca gathered her papers and her briefcase had headed out. Turning off her classroom’s lights as she left. She couldn’t imagine why a student insisted on seeing her before school actually began.

As she entered the reception area she looked over at a woman sitting with her back facing her. She noticed her long black hair and tiny frame.

Rebecca sat her briefcase on the counter and began to walk over to this woman. As she approached her she gasped, “Oh my. I am so happy to see you.”

Jia Li stood up and gave her teacher a huge hug. They held each other for a long time.

Jia Li stepped back, “Surprise. I finally can follow my dream. It is never too late as my mother reminded me recently. She has gone to live with her sister and told me to get my butt here where I have always wanted to be.

“I had my choice of many universities but I chose here. I was accepted into the Ph.D. program. It is the next chapter in my life!” The two hugged once more. Rebecca grabbed the briefcase and they headed out the door.

Written By: Angel

You can also follow me :

topenwithangel.com

Instagram: morningangle847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts to Pen

Thoughts From Angel:

Many cultural differences are difficult for me to understand but in the same breath I respect them.

If you appreciate what I do and would like to “Buy Me A Coffee”

“I get 100% of all donations”

Vocabulary:

achievement – noun: something done successfully, typically by effort or skill

deaf ears– idiom: no one listens

under his (one’s) breath – idiom: quietly so that other people cannot hear exactly what you are saying

mentor– noun: an experienced adviser or teacher

disown – verb: refuse to acknowledge or have any connection with

correspondence – noun: communication by exchanging letters or emails with someone

getting up there in age – idiom: elderly or becoming old

inevitable – adjective: certain to happen, unavoidable

deepest sympathies – idiom: said as a set response to someone sharing their misfortunes

subtle – adjective: difficult to analyze or describe, distinction

win – win -adjective: denoting a situation in which each party benefits in some way

prepping – noun: he action or process of preparing something

Question ( s ):

What are your thoughts on the plight of Jia Li?

If you were her, would you have followed your dream?