Three young men who came to repay their debt
by Jim Davidson, GUEST Columnist
Apr 28, 2014 | 551 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The other day a friend sent me a terrific article that reminded me of a sportscaster who was on a Little Rock television station many years ago.

His name was Benny Craig and since he either worked for or represented Colonial Baking Company, he always called himself that "Old Bread Man." When he signed off each evening, his favorite saying was, "No one ever stood as straight as the one who stoops to help a child."

Even though it’s been three or four decades since he was on the air, I didn’t have to look this up because I still remember Benny Craig and what he stood for.

Have you ever thought about what other people will remember you for? While you or I won’t be around, it is very important for loved ones and friends we leave behind. They want to think and believe good things about us.

What other people will remember us for when we are dead and gone will be determined, by and large, by what we believed in, what we stood for and the way we lived our lives. In this respect, I will confess that I love a good story that has a moral or principle that helps me to see myself in a better light.

With all the negative news in the world today, it’s so easy to become discouraged and we need to hear or read things from time to time that will help us to keep perspective. We all have potential that we never use, but regardless of how much knowledge or skill we possess, it’s the condition of our heart that will determine the important things that others remember.

The article I mentioned a moment ago contains a wonderful story about a man who owned and operated a produce stand in a small community back during the Great Depression. His name was Mr. Miller. In those days there was very little actual money around, so many business transactions were conducted by barter, which is to say one product or service was exchanged for another without any money changing hands.

As in all communities, past and present, there were a number of poor families that usually went to bed hungry. Not always, but in many cases, those who suffered most were the children who grew up in these homes.

It turns out that Mr. Miller had a heart of pure gold. There were three small boys who came by his produce stand on a regular basis and they always admired the things he had for sale. Of course, they never had any money to buy anything and very little to barter. As Mr. Miller would see one of the boys admiring some of his produce, he would usually strike up a conversation and finally get around to asking if this particular boy would like some of the particular items he was admiring.

The boy would always reply, "I don’t have any money to pay you with."

Mr. Miller would then say, "Don’t you have anything you could trade?"

With one particular boy it soon became a regular routine with him saying, "All I have is this big blue marble."

Mr. Miller would then say, "Red is my favorite color, but you go ahead and take these peas, corn or whatever, and we will work out the payment later."

Of course, later never came. In time, each of the three boys grew up and moved away, but they never forgot Mr. Miller and his kindness and generosity to their family. Then one day, word came that Mr. Miller had passed away and each of the young men made special arrangements so they could attend his funeral. They were each there, one in an Army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts — all very professional looking.

As each one walked slowly up to Mrs. Miller, who was standing next to her husband’s casket, they hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and then moved on to the casket.

Her misty, bright blue eyes followed them as one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes. Then a friend came along who Mrs. Miller had told years ago about the marbles and he mentioned this to her. With her eyes glistening, she took his hand and led him to the casket.

She said, "Those three young men who just left are the boys that I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim ‘traded’ them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about the color or size, they came to repay their debt."

She added, "We have never had a great deal of the wealth, but right now Jim would consider himself to be the richest man in the world."

With loving gentleness, she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

When we come to the end of our days we will not be remembered by our words, but by our deeds. Life is not measured by the breath we take, but by the moments that take our breath.

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(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway Arkansas 72034.)