No. 193



A famous person once said that "Love is the most terrible, and also the most generous of all the passions; it is the only one which includes in its dreams the happiness of someone else." Several months ago I was visiting with my good friend and mentor the late Win Pendleton down in Winderemere, Florida. During our conversation he told me a true story that almost brought tears to my eyes. With his blessing, I want to share it with you.

It seems a friend by the name of Marilyn, who lives a couple of streets away, was given a jar of jelly beans. At the time she had no idea how much happiness this gift would bring to her. She was not particularly fond of candy, especially jelly beans, but she would eat one or two every now and then just because they were there. At any rate her supply was due to last for a year or more.

Then things changed. One afternoon she was working with her flowers in the front yard when little five year old Wendy from next door wandered over. After the usual "hello", Marilyn remembered the jar of jelly beans. "Do you like jelly beans?" Marilyn asked Wendy. "Yes, Ma'am." "Well, go ask your mother if you can have some." A few minutes later, Wendy returned. In the background, her mother called from the kitchen window, "it's all right for her to have a few jelly beans, but don't let her make a nuisance of herself. If she gets in your way send her home."

That's how it started about a year ago. Marilyn took Wendy into the kitchen and gave her some jelly beans. How many? You certainly can't give a child one jelly bean so she worked it out this way. "How old are you?" she asked Wendy. Wendy held up five fingers and said, "Five", so Marilyn gave her five jelly beans.

At this point human nature took over. As you know, when it comes to free food and handouts, little children are like squirrels, birds and cats. They always come back for more. They develop that habit very quickly. And so, every afternoon for the next two or three weeks, Wendy showed up at Marilyn's kitchen and said, "Hello." Then one day when Marilyn answered the door, two little children stood there, Wendy and a little boy. "He's Bobby," Wendy said, "He's four." Five jelly beans for Wendy, four for Bobby.

Over the past year the congregation had grown and the last he heard, it was up to six. The drain on the jelly bean jar now totals twenty-eight each day. The original contents disappeared long ago and Marilyn has become the local stores best jelly bean customer. Can you imagine the amount of love that pours out each day when the jelly beans are so carefully counted out and the little smiles as they say "Thank You."

Win went on to say the punch line to the story came from Marilyn's husband at a recent dinner party with friends. He put his hand to his forehead in "mock agony" and said, "Do you have any idea what it's like to be married to a neighborhood celebrity?" Marilyn is known among the tricycle set as the "jelly bean lady." I'm sure you know Marilyn is teaching these youngsters something they can use for the rest of their lives. It's called "sharing."

I hope you have enjoyed this true story. I would like to conclude with this quotation by former President Woodrow Wilson when he was speaking to a group of students at Princeton University: "No thoughtful man ever came to the end of his life and had time and a little space of calm from which to look back upon it, who did not know and acknowledge that it was what he had done unselfishly and for others, and nothing else, that satisfied him in the retrospect, and made him feel that he had played the man." (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)