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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Birth (infancy) (08/20/09)

TITLE: The Gift (i)
By Allen Stark
08/20/09


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It began innocently. Years ago I worked in an office in Washington, D.C. that had large windows facing a busy overpass. I was standing by one of those windows one day when a woman in a passing car looked up and made eye contact. Naturally, I waved. I laughed as she quickly turned and tried to identify me. It was the beginning of my year of window antics.

Late afternoon rush hour traffic was the best time. The overpass was filled with cars and buses, providing lots of wavers. It didn't take long to attract a following, such as a group of commuters who passed the window every day and looked up at the strange waving man. But my favorite was the transit bus from Washington International at around 4:40 pm. It carried the same group every day, and they became my biggest fans.

After a while, simply waving became boring, so I worked on ways of making my act better. I stood on the window ledge in various poses, created funny hats from paper and file folders, made faces, played peek-a-boo and danced.

My wife and I were expecting our first child that fall, and I wanted the world to know. Two weeks before the birth I posted a sign in the window, “14 DAYS UNTIL B DAY.” My fans passed and shrugged their shoulders. The next day the sign read, “13 DAYS UNTIL B DAY.” Each day the number dropped, and the passing people grew more confused.

One day a sign appeared in the window of the bus, “What is B DAY?” I just waved and smiled.

Five days before the expected due date the sign in the window read, “5 DAYS UNTIL BA-- DAY.” Still the people wondered. The next day it read, “4 DAYS UNTIL BAB- DAY,” then “3 DAYS UNTIL BABY DAY,” and my fans finally knew what was happening.

Every night they watched to see if my wife had given birth. My fans were disappointed when the count reached “zero” without an announcement. The next day the sign read, “BABY 1 DAY LATE,” and I pretended to pull out my hair.

When my wife was five days overdue she went into labor, and the next morning our first of three daughters was born. I left the hospital at 5:30 AM and drove home to catch a few hours sleep. I got up at noon, showered, bought a box of cigars and appeared at my window in time for my fans. My co-workers were ready with a banner posted in the window: “IT'S A GIRL!”

My co-workers joined me in celebration. We stood and waved as every vehicle which passed acknowledged the birth of my daughter, Anissa. Finally the bus from Washington International made its turn onto the overpass. I climbed onto the window ledge and clasped my hands over my head in a victory pose. The bus was directly in front of me when it stopped dead in heavy rush hour traffic and every person on board stood with their hands in the air.

Emotion chocked my breathing as I watched the display of celebration for my new daughter. Then it happened: a sign popped up. It filled the windows and stretched half the length of the bus, “CONGRATULATIONS!”

Tears formed in my eyes as the bus slowly resumed its journey. I stood in silence, as it pulled from view. More fans passed and tooted their horns or flashed their lights to display their happiness, but I hardly noticed them, as I pondered what had just happened.

My daughter had been born five days late. Those people must have carried the sign, unrolled, on the bus for those five days. Every day they had unrolled it and then rolled it back up.

We all have a clown inside of us. We need to let it free and not be surprised at the magic it can create. For months I had made a fool of myself, and those people must have enjoyed the smiles I gave them, because on one of the happiest days of my life they had shown their appreciation.

It will soon be forty-two years since that special day on October 19, 1967, and I'm glad I can remember the special gift God gave me on that day, as well as the unexpected gift the people on that bus gave me.

Look for opportunities to give the unexpected gifts. They give you lasting memories that echo down through the years.


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This article has been read 666 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst08/27/09
I'm in awe, first at the creative mind behind the antics, then at the depth of response from "strangers", and finally at the skill put into the story-telling! If this is a true story, lovely tribute also for your daughter.
Matthew Eldridge08/27/09
Awesome! absolutely loved it!
Nancy Tilson08/28/09
Wow! A gift in the telling to all of us as well! And a great lesson in the importance of humor and in connecting. Great job.
Virgil Youngblood 08/28/09
There is a freshness to the joy expressed in this story that is contagious. Great writing.
Sherrie Coronas08/28/09
Wow...so neat. Loved the way this story developed.
mick dawson08/30/09
Loved your story and couldn't agree more with your final comment.
Karlene Jacobsen 08/31/09
I had to read through this a couple times, then again to my husband. I remember well his reaction to the birth of our first child (a girl). This brought tears to our eyes--the joy, the reactions of strangers, the celebration! LOVE this piece!
Deborah Engle 09/01/09
Very enjoyable read. The story was interesting and entertaining, and the whole thing flowed nicely.
Rachel Burkum09/03/09
Congratulations on your EC!!!
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/03/09
Congratulations on EC for this wonderful story.
Lisa Johnson 09/03/09
Congratulations on not only being Highly Commended, but on getting EC as well. Good job.
Jeanne E Webster 09/03/09

An Amen to the congratulations! Sometimes we wonder if people really care...you've shown us they do.

Thank you for a lovely story.
Mona Purvis09/03/09
Well-deserved EC. It is good to read and ponder about some of the good things happening in our world today. This story champions it well.
Mona
Coleene VanTilburg 09/03/09
I loved this story, thanks for sharing. What I especially liked though, is how you turned it into a teaching/devotional, inspiring us all to create special moments in which to share our Joy. Thanks and Congratulations on a good write.
Allen Stark09/04/09
What wonderful gifts of compliments we in the writing community bestow on each other! But isn't that one of the motivators helping us to improve our God-given talents?