“Jan Fowler has created a sparkling diamond!”
--Paul Ryan, Celebrity TV Talk Show Host for CBS, NBC, ABC; author of The Art of Comedy: Getting Serious about Being Funny
“Entertaining, energetic, heartwarming! True-life accounts of real people from
all walks of life.”
--Jackie Goldberg (“The Pink Lady”), Producer of Senior Star Power Productions’ “Rockin’ With the Ages, The Musical”, Hollywood
“The perfect gift book for any senior!”
--Bruce McAllister, award-winning author of Dream Baby
“A wonderful collection of short stories to share and remember.”
--Sherii Sherban, Publisher, Senior Times South Central Michigan
“Getting back into the dating game after years, or even decades, in a relationship can be extremely difficult. This book will give you the encouragement, advice and direction to seek out your next true love.”
--Daniel Waterloo, Director of Seniordating.org
“Jan Fowler is the voice of today’s senior! Stories about love and life, trials and victories, miracles in the unexpected and the funny, yet meaningful, moments in life.”
--Barbara A. Berg, speaker, coach, author of How to Escape the No-win Trap and Ring Shui
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Read an Excerpt
Hot Chocolate for SeniorsMore than 100 heartwarming, humorous, inspiring stories written by seniors, for seniors, and about seniors!
By Jan Fowler
Balboa PressCopyright © 2011 Jan Fowler
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAngels' Wings & Other Unexplained Mysteries
The Wallet by Arnold Fine
As I stumbled home one freezing day, I happened upon a wallet someone had lost in the street. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so I could call the owner. But the wallet contained only three dollars and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years.
The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the return address. I started to open the letter, hoping to find some clue. Then I saw the date—1924. The letter had been written almost sixty years earlier.
It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder-blue stationery with a little flower in the left-hand corner. It was a "Dear John" letter that told the recipient, whose name appeared to be Michael, that the writer could not see him anymore because her mother forbade it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love him. It was signed Hannah.
It was a beautiful letter, but there was no way, except for the name Michael, to identify the owner. Maybe if I called information, the operator could find a phone listing for the address on the envelope.
"Operator," I began, "this is an unusual request. I'm trying to find the owner of a wallet that I found. Is there any way you can tell me if there is a phone number for an address that was on an envelope in the wallet?"
She suggested I speak with her supervisor, who hesitated for a moment, then said, "Well, there is a phone listing at that address, but I can't give you the number." She said that as a courtesy she would call that number, explain my story, and ask whoever answered if the person wanted her to connect me. I waited a few minutes and then the supervisor was back on the line. "I have a party who will speak with you."
I asked the woman on the other end of the line if she knew anyone by the name of Hannah. She gasped. "Oh! We bought this house from a family who had a daughter named Hannah. But that was thirty years ago!"
"Would you know where that family could be located now?" I asked.
"I remember that Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing home some years ago," the woman said. "Maybe if you got in touch with them, they might be able to track down the daughter."
She gave me the name of the nursing home, and I called the number. The woman on the phone told me the old lady had passed away some years ago, but the nursing home did have a phone number for where the daughter might be living.
I thanked the person at the nursing home and phoned the number she gave me. The woman who answered explained that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home.
This whole thing is stupid, I thought to myself. Why am I making such a big deal over finding the owner of a wallet that has only three dollars and a letter that is almost sixty years old?
Nevertheless, I called the nursing home in which Hannah was supposed to be living, and the man who answered the phone told me, "Yes, Hannah is staying with us."
Even though it was already 10 p.m., I asked if I could come by to see her. "Well," he said hesitatingly, "if you want to take a chance, she might be in the day room watching television."
I thanked him and drove over to the nursing home. The night nurse and a guard greeted me at the door. We went up to the third floor of the large building. In the day room, the nurse introduced me to Hannah. She was a sweet silver-haired old-timer with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye.
I told her about finding the wallet and showed her the letter. The second she saw the powder-blue envelope with that little flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said, "Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael."
She looked away for a moment, deep in thought, and then said softly, "I loved him very much. But I was only sixteen at the time and my mother felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor.
"Yes," she continued, "Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And," she hesitated for a moment, almost biting her lip, "tell him I still love him. You know," she said, smiling as tears welled up in her eyes, "I never did marry. I guess no one ever matched up to Michael . . ."
I thanked Hannah and said good-bye. I took the elevator to the first floor and as I stood by the door, the guard there asked, "Was the old lady able to help you?"
I told him she had given me a lead. "At least I have a last name. But I think I'll let it go for a while. I spent almost the whole day trying to find the owner of this wallet."
I had taken out the wallet, which was a simple brown leather case with red lacing on the side. When the guard saw it, he said, "Hey, wait a minute! That's Mr. Goldstein's wallet. I'd know it anywhere with that bright red lacing. He's always losing that wallet. I must have found it in the halls at least three times."
"Who's Mr. Goldstein?" I asked, as my hand began to shake.
"He's one of the old-timers on the eighth floor. That's Mike Goldstein's wallet for sure. He must have lost it on one of his walks."
I thanked the guard and quickly ran back to the nurse's office. I told her what the guard had said. We went back to the elevator and got on. I prayed that Mr. Goldstein would be up.
On the eighth floor, the floor nurse said, "I think he's still in the day room. He likes to read at night. He's a darling old man."
We went to the only room that had any lights on, and there was a man reading a book. The nurse went over to him and asked if he had lost his wallet. Mr. Goldstein looked up with surprise, put his hand in his back pocket, and said, "Oh, it is missing!"
"This kind gentleman found a wallet and we wondered if it could be yours."
I handed Mr. Goldstein the wallet, and the second he saw it, he smiled with relief and said, "Yes, that's it! It must have dropped out of my pocket this afternoon. I want to give you a reward."
"No, thank you," I said. "But I have to tell you something. I read the letter in the hope of finding out who owned the wallet."
The smile on his face suddenly disappeared. "You read that letter?"
"Not only did I read it, I think I know where Hannah is."
He suddenly grew pale. "Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please, please tell me," he begged.
"She's fine ... just as pretty as when you knew her," I said softly.
The old man smiled with anticipation and asked, "Could you tell me where she is? I want to call her tomorrow." He grabbed my hand and said, "You know something, mister? I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I've always love her."
"Michael," I said, "come with me."
We took the elevator down to the third floor. The hallways were darkened and only one or two little night lights lit our way to the day room, where Hannah was sitting alone, watching the television.
The nurse walked over to her.
"Hannah," she said softly, pointing to Michael, who was waiting with me in the doorway. "Do you know this man?"
She adjusted her glasses, looked for a moment, but didn't say a word.
Michael said softly, almost in a whisper, "Hannah, it's Michael. Do you remember me?"
She gasped. "Michael! I don't believe it! Michael! It's you! My Michael!"
He walked slowly toward her, and they embraced. The nurse and I left with tears streaming down our faces.
"See," I said. "See how the good Lord works! If it's meant to be, it will be."
About three weeks later, I got a call at my office from the nursing home. "Can you break away on Sunday to attend a wedding? Michael and Hannah are going to tie the knot!"
It was a beautiful wedding, with all the people at the nursing home dressed up to join in the celebration. Hannah wore a light beige dress and looked beautiful. Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall. They made me their best man.
The hospital gave them their own room, and if you ever wanted to see a seventy-six-year-old bride and a seventy-nine-year-old groom acting like two teenagers, you had to see this couple.
A perfect ending for a love affair that had lasted nearly sixty years.
Reprinted with the kind permission of Arnold Fine, © 1998 Arnold Fine.
Arnold Fine is a writer, educator, newspaper and magazine journalist and photographer whose career spanned more than fifty years. He was also a teacher and coordinator for brain-injured children at Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn, NY. Now retired, he lives in Lower Manhattan.
Protected by Prayer by Cheri Fuller
The missionary rose and prepared to leave the campsite where he had spent the night en route to the city for medical supplies. He extinguished his small campfire, pulled on his canvas backpack, and hopped on his motorcycle to continue his ride through the African jungle. Every two weeks he made this two-day journey to collect money from a bank and purchase medicine and supplies for the small field hospital where he served. When he completed those errands, he hopped on his bike again for the two-day return trip.
When the missionary arrived in the city, he collected his money and medical supplies and was just about to leave for home when he saw two men fighting in the street. Since one of the men was seriously injured, the missionary stopped, treated him for his injuries, and shared the love of Christ with him. Then the missionary began his two-day trek home, stopping in the jungle again to camp overnight.
Two weeks later, as was his custom, the missionary again made the journey to the city. As he ran various errands, a young man approached him—the same man the missionary had ministered to during his previous trip. "I knew you carried money and medicine with you," the man said, "so my friends and I followed you to your campsite in the jungle after you helped me in the street. We planned to kill you and take all the money and drugs. But just as we were about to move in and attack you, we saw twenty-six armed guards surround and protect you."
You must be mistaken," said the missionary. "I was all alone when I spent the night in the jungle. There were no guards or anyone else with me."
"But, sir, I wasn't the only one who saw the guards. My five companions saw them too. We counted them! There were twenty-six bodyguards, too many for us to handle. Their presence stopped us from killing you."
Months later, the missionary related this story to the congregation gathered at his home church in Michigan. As he spoke, one of the men listening stood up and interrupted him to ask the exact day the incident in the jungle had occurred. When the missionary identified the specific month and day of the week, the man told him "the rest of the story."
"On the exact night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here in Michigan, and I was on the golf course. I was about to putt when I felt a strong urge to pray for you. The urge was so strong that I left the golf course and called some men of our church right here in this sanctuary to join me in praying for you. Would all you men who prayed with me that day stand up?"
The missionary wasn't concerned with who the men were; he was too busy counting them, one by one. Finally he reached the last one. There were twenty-six men—the exact number of "armed guards" the thwarted attacker had seen.
[Reprinted from When Families Pray by Cheri Fuller, courtesy of Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers, Colorado Springs, CO.]
Cheri Fuller is a former Oklahoma "Mother of the Year" and a popular inspirational speaker. She is an award-winning author of forty-two books, including Mother-Daughter Duet and The One Year Women's Friendship Devotional. www.cherifuller.com or email@example.com
More Than Coincidence by Pamela Freeman
My husband and I sat at our dining room table filling out the forms that would decide the future of our family. For two years, we'd tried to have a child. But infertility forced us to rethink our plans. We'd prayed and prayed about what to do and every sign had led us here, to this form that would officially start the process of adopting a child from Russia. Now I felt an incredible, powerful surge of confidence that we were doing the right thing. I signed the bottom and wrote the date, March 17, 2004.
That confidence carried me through the grueling months ahead. Costs for background checks, processing fees and other requirements were high. Putting together the documents that described us, our home, our health and our finances took months of paper-chasing, visits from a social worker and repeated trips to government offices. Finally, we completed everything and waited to hear from the adoption agency.
Then the Russian government changed its international adoption laws. What should have been a few months of waiting lasted more than a year. Had we really followed God's will? I started to wonder about the sense of confidence I'd felt the day we signed the forms.
In the spring of 2006, we got a call from the adoption agency. "There's a boy in one of our orphanages in southern Russia," the person said. "We're e-mailing you the pictures."
He was a sweet little redhead, two years old. It was love at first sight. We made our travel plans. Halfway across the world, in Volgograd, Russia, my husband and I found what we'd been praying for. The boy was shy at first, but soon he was playing and cuddling with us. I held him and didn't want to let him go.
"He has some minor medical problems," the orphanage director warned, reading through the boy's file. "We don't know who his parents were. He was abandoned when he was just a few weeks old."
I looked at my husband. Did any of that matter? He was meant for us, wasn't he? The director peered down at the boy's file again.
"He was found by a police officer," she said, "on March 17, 2004."
["Mysterious Ways: More Than Coincidence" by Pamela Freeman is reprinted with permission from Guideposts Books, Copyright © 2011]
I Remember How the Fiddle Played by Jan Fowler
I was twenty-one years old, had just graduated college, and was still filled with the wonder and fantasy of romantic idealism. For me, the world was merely an artist's canvas inviting me to splash it with a rainbow of color. Except that my idea of applying color was to paint with words rather than brush and easel. My passion was poetry—beautiful, inspiring, wondrous poetry. I wrote it, read it, spoke it, dreamt it.
One afternoon, while relaxing after a day of teaching at my first job in suburban Philadelphia, I was so captivated and swept away by a lyrical love poem I'd just read in Ladies' Home Journal that I tore it out, pressed and preserved it in my wallet, and have carried it with me ever since. The lovely poem that dazzled and bewitched me so was "Night Song" by Pegasus Buchanan.
As time moved on, I eventually fell in love, married, raised a family, and led a joyful family-centered life, but one that never allowed time for writing poetry. Decades later, however, as I approached retirement, the poet's muse whispered in my ear again and beckoned me to enroll in a poetry-writing class at a senior center in Claremont, California. I was thrilled to finally have the time to reconnect with my passion!
One afternoon during the second week of class, our instructor noted that since we only had a few remaining minutes left till the end of the hour, perhaps someone who'd brought a special poem that day might like to read it aloud right now. Eagerly, I raised my hand and was delighted to be called upon.
As I reached deep down into my purse to pull out the worn, torn, and tattered poem that I had indelibly preserved in both my memory and wallet for more than thirty years, I began. "I would like to read a lovely poem that I've deeply cherished and have carried with me ever since I was twenty-one. It's called 'Night Song' by Pegasus Buchanan."
I had barely finished my sentence when I became uncomfortably aware of a stunned silence that had fallen across the room. Embarrassed and bewildered, I couldn't imagine what on earth I had said that was wrong. Why in the world were all twenty-five students—including our teacher—suddenly staring at each other in wide-eyed confusion, then at me, then back at each other again? Eventually I heard the soft whispers "Pegasus ... Pegasus ... Pegasus ..."
Excerpted from Hot Chocolate for Seniors by Jan Fowler Copyright © 2011 by Jan Fowler. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Angels' Wings & Other Unexplained Mysteries....................1
Chapter 2: Falling in Love Again....................29
Chapter 3: Animal Blessings....................59
Chapter 4: War & Peace....................83
Chapter 5: Portraits in Time....................105
Chapter 6: Hot Dogs & Mustard for Sports Fans....................135
Chapter 7: Spit, Feathers, & Other Humorous Philosophies....................153
Chapter 8: Sacred Moments....................185
Chapter 9: When Dreams Come True....................217
Chapter 10: Helping Hands, Hopeful Hearts....................235
Chapter 11: Memorable Memorials....................251
Chapter 12: Never Too Late....................263
Chapter 13: And So It Goes....................281
Chapter 14: Words of Pearly Wisdom....................301