The Sandpiper by Robert Peterson

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

We see heaps of this kind of story in social media nowadays but this one really resonated with me, I hope it has the same effect on you.....

The Sandpiper

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live.

I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.

She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.

"Hello," she said.

I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.

"I'm building," she said.

"I see that. What is it?" I asked, not really caring.

"Oh, I don't know, I just like the feel of sand."

That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes.

A sandpiper glided by.

"That's a joy," the child said.
"It's a what?"

"It's a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy."

The bird went gliding down the beach.

Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned to walk on.  I was depressed, my life seemed completely out of balance.

"What's your name?" She wouldn't give up.

"Robert," I answered. "I'm Robert Peterson."

"Mine's Wendy... I'm six."

"Hi, Wendy."

 She giggled. "You're funny," she said.

In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on.
Her musical giggle followed me.

"Come again, Mr. P," she called.. "We'll have another happy day."

 The next few days consisted of a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother.

The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. I need a sandpiper, I said to myself, gathering up my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed.

"Hello, Mr. P," she said. "Do you want to play?"

"What did you have in mind?" I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.

"I don't know. You say."

"How about charades?" I asked sarcastically.

The tinkling laughter burst forth again. "I don't know what that is."
"Then let's just walk."

Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face.

"Where do you live?" I asked.

"Over there." She pointed toward a row of summer cottages.

Strange, I thought, in winter.

"Where do you go to school?"

"I don't go to school. Mummy says we're on vacation"

She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things.

When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day.

Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic.

I was in no mood to even greet Wendy.

I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home.

"Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today."

She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.

"Why?" she asked.

I turned to her and shouted, "Because my mother died!" and thought, My God, why was I saying this to a little child?

"Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day."

"Yes," I said, "and yesterday and the day before and -- oh, go away!"

"Did it hurt?" she inquired.

"Did what hurt?" I was exasperated with her, with myself.

"When she died?"

"Of course it hurt!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself.  I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed, and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door.

A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.

"Hello," I said, "I'm Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was."

"Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies."

"Not at all --! she's a delightful child." I said, suddenly realising that I meant what I had just said.

"Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson.  She had leukaemia. Maybe she didn't tell you."

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch my breath.

"She loved this beach, so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no.She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly..."

Her voice faltered, "She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?"

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something to say to this lovely young woman.

She handed me a smeared envelope with "MR. P" printed in bold childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues -- a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird.

Underneath was carefully printed: A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide.

I took Wendy's mother in my arms.  "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," I uttered over and over, and we wept together.

The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study.

Six words -- one for each year of her life -- that speak to me of harmony, courage, and undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the colour of sand - who taught me the gift of love.


Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas can make us lose focus about what is truly important or what is only a momentary setback or crisis.

This week, be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug, and by all means, take a moment... even if it is only ten seconds, to stop and smell the roses.

Sunlight is the best medicine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunshine the best medicine

Spring has well and truly sprung. You don’t have to go far to hear, feel and even smell it in the air. Trees are blossoming, birds are singing, the grass is greening. You might have noticed the days getting longer or the washing drying quicker. Is it just me, or does everything feel like it’s looking up? Is it just Spring in the air? There might be more to that than we think.

Did you know that some people suffer from depression only during the winter months and recover fully when the season ends? It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People with SAD start to improve in the spring. Studies show that light hitting the back of the eye (retina) stimulates the brain to reduce melatonin, increase serotonin and reset the circadian rhythm. No wonder we’re getting a spring in our step!

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, muscles and overall health. We all know about the link between too much UV exposure and skin cancer, but did you know, sunshine is the best natural source of vitamin D? In fact, UV radiation from the sun is necessary for the production of vitamin D in the skin. It’s also free. Couple that with the benefits of going for a walk and you’ve got a great energy boost. Be sun smart of course, even at this time of year, go outside of peak UV times – morning or late afternoon.

This week, take the time to welcome Spring. Go for a walk around the block, or to your favourite spot. Aside from all of the health benefits, you never know what you might see - and hear (REMEMBER ;- Unplug before you go). Stop and “smell the roses” and admire the pride someone takes in their yard – even if it’s not your thing! 

Have a great week


Happiness is a Habit ... Part I

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Two Dingos
One evening an aboriginal elder told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two dingos that live inside us all.
"One is Evil - it is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.
"The other is Good - it is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which one wins?"
The grandfather replied simply, "the one you feed."
Sing your own Song, and take responsibility for your own happiness.  The two dingos do live in all of us, and we all face the ongoing struggle everyday of which dingo we will feed.  It is sometimes easier to feed the evil dingo by our thoughtless actions and unrealistic desires.  Food for the Good Dingo can be more obscure, so there are times when this dingo gets a little hungry.  
We need to peel back the veil that prohibits us from seeing beyond our self and look further than the neighbor's new car. Yes, food for Good is stopping to help an elderly woman cross the street, listening to your child, cleaning the house, preparing a meal with your loved ones, feeling the rain on your face after years of drought, the sun rising in the morning.  Good is not just doing what is moral, it is as the cliche states; "stopping and smelling the roses."   Take a deep breath, appreciate the small things, and remember that happiness is found within you, not outside you.
Here's some food for Good.  Smile.  Smile today, because it is a gift worth giving, and a gift that keeps on giving back.