Inspiring Tear-Jerkers / Eight Short Stories
There is nothing like reading an inspiring, often tear-jerking, true story – one that leaves you feeling uplifted and encouraged! We all need the encouragement of reading incidents in others lives where the hand of God has become very evident… or where God’s love is being practiced. I believe all of the 8 short stories below are true. They are among my favorites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! Whistler
What Goes Around Comes Around
I was working as a disc jockey in
I was very controversial in radio. I had offended someone in an editorial that I had done about a promoter who was bringing entertainers into town who were not the original members of a particular group. The person I exposed literally took a contract out on me!
One night I was coming home at about two o’clock in the morning. I had just finished working at a night club where I was the emcee. As I began to open my door, a man came out from behind the side of my house and said, “Are you Les Brown?”
I said, “Yes, sir.”
He said, “I need to talk to you. I was sent here to carry out a contract on you.”
“Me? Why?” I asked.
He said, “Well, there’s a promoter that’s very upset about the money you cost him when you said that the group that was coming to town was not the real group.”
“Are you going to do something to me?” I asked.
He said, “No.” And I didn’t want him to change his mind! I was just glad!
continued. “My mother was in Grant Hospital and she wrote me about how you came
in one day and sat down and talked to her and read Scripture to her. She was so impressed that this morning disc
jockey, who didn’t know her, came in and did that. She wrote me about you when I was in the
Don’t Let It End This Way
The hospital was unusually quiet that bleak January evening, quiet and still, like the air before a storm. I stood in the nurses’ station on the seventh floor and glanced at the clock. It was 9:00 P.M.
I threw a stethoscope around my neck and headed for room 712, last room of the hall. Room 712 had a new patient, Mr. Williams. A man alone. A man strangely silent about his family.
As I entered the room, Mr. Williams looked up eagerly, but dropped his eyes when he saw it was only his nurse. I pressed the stethoscope over his chest and listened. Strong, slow, even beating. Just what I wanted to hear. There seemed little indication he had suffered a slight heart attack a few hours earlier.
He looked up from his starched white bed. “Nurse, would you . . .” He hesitated, tears filling his eyes. Once before he had started to ask me a question, but had changed his mind.
I touched his hand, waiting.
He brushed away a tear. “Would you call my daughter? Tell her I’ve had a heart attack. A slight one. You see, I live alone and she is the only family I have.” His respiration suddenly sped up.
I turned his nasal oxygen up to eight liters a minute. “Of course I’ll call her,” I said, studying his face.
He gripped the sheets and pulled himself forward, his face tense with urgency. “Will you call her right away – as soon as you can?” He was breathing fast – too fast.
“I’ll call her first thing,” I said, patting his shoulder. “Now you get some rest.”
I flipped off the light. He closed his eyes, such young blue eyes in this 50-year-old face.
Room 712 was dark except for a faint night-light under the sink. Oxygen gurgled in the green tubes above his bed. Reluctant to leave, I moved through the shadowy silence to the window. The panes were cold. Below, a foggy mist curled through the hospital parking lot. Above, snow clouds quilted the night sky. I shivered.
“Nurse,” he called. “Could you get me a pencil and paper?”
I dug a scrap of yellow paper and a pen from my pocket and set it on the bedside table.
“Thank you,” he said.
I smiled at him and left.
I walked back to the nurses’ station and sat in a squeaky swivel chair by the phone. Mr. Williams’ daughter was listed on his chart as the next of kin. I got her number from information and dialed. Her soft voice answered.
Janie, this is Sue Kidd, a registered nurse at the hospital. I’m calling about your father. He was admitted today with a slight heart attack and . . . “
“No!” she screamed into the phone, startling me. “He’s not dying is he?” It was more a painful plea than a question.
“His condition is stable at the moment,” I said , trying hard to sound convincing.
Silence. I bit my lip.
“You must not let him die!” she said. Her voice was so utterly compelling that my hand trembled on the phone.
“He is getting the very best care.”
“But you don’t understand,” she pleaded. “My daddy and I haven’t spoken in almost a year. We had a terrible argument on my twenty-first birthday, over my boyfriend. I ran out of the house. I . . . I haven’t been back. All these months I’ve wanted to go to him for forgiveness. The last thing I said to him was, “I hate you.’”
Her voice cracked and I heard her heave great agonizing sobs. I sat, listening, tear’s burning my eyes. A father and daughter, so lost to each other! Then I was thinking of my own father, many miles away. It had been so long since I had said I love you.
As Janie struggled to control her tears, I breathed a prayer. “Please God, let his daughter find forgiveness.”
“I’m coming, now! I’ll be there in 30 minutes,” she said. Click. She had hung up.
I tried to busy myself with a stack of charts on the desk. I couldn’t concentrate. Room 712. I knew I had to get back to 712. I hurried down the hall nearly in a run. I opened the door.
Mr. Williams lay unmoving. I reached for his pulse. There was none.
“Code 99. Room 712. Code 99. Stat.” The alert was shooting through the hospital within seconds after I called the switchboard through the intercom by the bed.
Mr. Williams had had a cardiac arrest.
With lightning speed I leveled the bed and bent over his mouth, breathing air into his lungs. I positioned my head over his chest and compressed. One, two, three. I tried to count. At 15, I moved back to his mouth and breathed as deeply as I could. Where was help? Again I compressed and breathed. Compressed and breathed. He could not die!
“Oh, God,” I prayed. “His daughter is coming. Don’t let it end this way.”
The door burst open. Doctors and nurses poured into the room, pushing emergency equipment. A doctor took over the manual compression of the heart. A tube was inserted through his mouth as an airway. Nurses plunged syringes of medicine into the intravenous tubing.
I connected the heart monitor. Nothing. Not a beat. My own heart pounded. “God, don’t let it end like this. Not in bitterness and hatred. His daughter is coming Let her find peace.”
“Stand back,” cried a doctor. I handed him the paddles for the electrical shock to the heart. He placed them on Mr. William’s chest.
Over and over we tried. But nothing. No response. Mr Williams was dead.
A nurse unplugged the oxygen. The gurgling stopped. One by one they left, grim and silent.
How could this happen? How? I stood by his bed, stunned. A cold wind rattled the window, pelting the panes with snow. Outside – everywhere – seemed a bed of blackness, cold and dark. How could I face his daughter?
When I left the room, I saw her against the wall by a water fountain. A doctor, who had been in 712 only moments before, stood at her side, talking to her, gripping her elbow. Then he moved on, leaving her slumped against the wall.
Such pathetic hurt reflected from her face. Such wounded eyes. She knew. The doctor had told her her father was gone.
I took her hand and led her into the nurses’ lounge. We sat on the little green stools, neither saying a word. She stared straight at a pharmaceutical calendar, glass-faced, almost breakable-looking. “Janie, I’m so sorry,” I said. It was pitifully inadequate.
“I never hated him, you know. I loved him,” she said.
God, please help her, I prayed.
Suddenly she whirled toward me. “I want to see him.”
My first thought was, Why put yourself through more pain? Seeing him will only make it worse. But I got up and wrapped my arm around her. We walked slowly down the corridor to 712. Outside the door I squeezed her hand, wishing she would change her mind. She pushed open the door.
We moved to the bed, huddled together, taking small steps in unison. Janie leaned over the bed and buried her face in the sheets.
I tried not to look at her, at this sad, sad good-bye. I backed against the bedside table. My hand fell upon a scrap of yellow paper. I picked it up. I read:
My dearest Janie, I forgive you. I pray you will also forgive me. I know that you love me.
I love you, too. Daddy.
The note was shaking in my hands as I thrust it toward Janie. She read it once. Then twice. Her tortured face grew radiant. Peace began to glisten in her eyes. She hugged the scrap of paper to her breast.
“Thank you, God,” I whispered, looking up at the window. A few crystal stars blinked through the blackness. A snowflake hit the window and melted away, gone forever.
Life seemed as fragile as a snowflake on the window. But thank you, God, that relationships, sometimes as fragile as snowflakes, can be mended together again. But there is not a moment to spare.
I crept from the room and hurried to the phone. I would call my own father. I would say, “I love you.”
Once when I was a teenager, my father and I were standing in line to buy tickets for the circus. Finally, there was only one family between us and the ticket counter. This family made a big impression on me. There were eight children, all probably under the age of 12.
You could tell they didn’t have a lot of money. Their clothes were not expensive, but they were clean. The children were well behaved, all of them standing in line, two-by-two behind their parents, holding hands. They were excitedly jabbering about the clowns, elephants and other acts they would see that night. One could sense they had never been to the circus before. It promised to be a highlight for their young lives.
The father and mother were at the head of the pack standing proud as could be. The mother was holding her husband’s hand, looking up at him as if to say, “You’re my knight in shining armor.” He was smiling and basking in pride, looking at her as if to reply, “You got that right.”
The ticket lady asked the father how many tickets he wanted. He proudly responded, “Please let me buy eight children’s tickets and two adult tickets so I can take my family to the circus.”
The ticket lady quoted the price. The man’s wife let go of his hand, her head dropped, the man’s lip began to quiver.
The father leaned a little closer and asked, “How much did you say?” The ticket lady again quoted the price. The man didn’t have enough money. How was he supposed to turn and tell his eight kids that he didn’t have enough money to take them to the circus?
Seeing what was going on, my dad put his hand into his pocket, pulled out a $20 bill and dropped it on the ground. (We were not wealthy in any sense of the word!) My father reached down, picked up the bill, tapped the man on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, sir, this fell out of your pocket.”
The man knew what was going on. He wasn’t begging for a handout but certainly appreciated the help in a desperate, heartbreaking, embarrassing situation. He looked straight into my dad’s eyes, took my dad’s hand in both of his, squeezed tightly onto the $20 bill, and with his lip quivering and a tear streaming down his cheek, he replied, “Thank you, thank you, sir. This really means a lot to me and my family.”
My father and I went back to our car and drove home. We didn’t go to the circus that night, but we didn’t go without.
Stranger at Union Station
It was a small aluminum cross, not much to look at. A message was inscribed on it crossword-puzzle fashion, with GOD stamped on the crossbeam so that the O was in the center and LOVES YOU ran vertically through it.
I started carrying the cross in my pocket, the way I had carried a “good deed coin” when I was a Boy Scout. Every time I helped someone, I moved the cross to the other pocket, just as I had done with the coin. After a few months the cross became a reminder not to do good deeds arbitrarily, but to watch for what God wanted me to do, consciously, each and every day.
I was called back home to
It would take them a few hours, so I decided to stop at the station’s all-night restaurant. At least I could people-watch. Inside it was quiet, no surprise considering the late hour. There were a few other customers, waiting half asleep, as I was. I took a table by the entrance and sipped my coffee.
I noticed a middle-aged woman slip into a seat at the table catty-corner to mine. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary about her, but for some reason she caught my attention. She was wearing what I’d call a Hoosier conservative outfit: a nondescript jacket and a plain dress. She sat quietly, swirls of steam from her coffee drifting in front of her. She wore the same bored, tired expression most of us travelers did. Still, I found myself looking up at her again.
Then I heard something: Give her your cross.
The voice seemed to come from inside me, but the sound wasn’t in my ears or my mind. It was just there. I shook my head, puzzled.
Give her your cross. The same words.
I glanced around to see if anyone else had heard the voice. But no one was even looking in my direction. I didn’t want to give my cross to a complete strange. It meant something to me. Besides, she didn’t need my cross. She looked fine to me, not like some of the obviously-down-on-their-luck types I had tried to help in the past.
This is ridiculous, I thought. I got up to leave when I felt a firm pressure on my chest, as if a huge hand were holding me in place.
The voice came again, strong and sure: Tell her it’s from me.
There was such unmistakable command in the words that I didn’t think to disobey. I reached into my pocket and dug out my cross, its lightness feeling familiar in my grasp. Then I strode directly to the woman’s table, thinking I could deliver the gift and escape quickly.
Close up, I noticed her eyes were vacant. She had her hand positioned awkwardly, halfway in the purse resting on her lap. I laid the cross on the table and heard myself say, “God wants me to give you this.”
The woman read the inscription on it and started to cry. “Are you okay, ma’am?” I asked, taken aback.
She nodded and slowly withdrew her hand from her purse. Shock hit me full force when I saw what she was pulling out – a .25-caliber pistol.
“I came here to have my last cup of coffee,” the woman said. “My daughter was killed a few months ago, and my husband just left me. I thought God had abandoned me too.”
“You made me realize he’s still with me.” She cradled the cross in her palm and read its message once more. Then she looked down at the gun. “Please, take it away. I know I’m going to be all right.”
I removed the ammunition clip. “I’ll take this. But I think you need to get rid of the gun yourself,” I answered carefully, looking her straight in the eye, “so you know you’ll never be tempted by it again.”
For a few moments her gaze locked with mine. Then she nodded once in understanding and returned the pistol to her purse.
“Thank you,” she said, wrapping her fingers tightly around the metal of the cross. “I have never needed these words more.”
Clutching the cross to her chest, she walked out the door. I watched as she disappeared into the night. Sometimes you can figure out when another person is in need. Other times you are called to the spot where God and love intersect.
Covered by the Cloud
It was a morning in early
March 1945, a clear and sunny day. I was
24 years old and a member of the U.S. Army’s 35th Infantry Division,
137th Infantry, Company I.
Along with several other companies of American troops, we were making
our way through dense woods in the German Rhineland. Our objective was to reach and take the town
For hours we had pressed through an unrelenting thicket. Shortly after midday word was passed that there was a clearing ahead. At last, we thought, the going would be easier. But then we approached a large stone house, behind which huddled a handful of wounded, bleeding soldiers – who had tried to cross the clearing and failed.
Before us stretched at least 200 yards of open ground – bordered on the far side by more thick woods. As the first of us appeared on the edge of the clearing there was an angry rat-tat-tat, and a ferocious volley of bullets sent soil spinning as far as we could see. Three nests of German machine guns, spaced 50 yards apart and protected by the crest of a small hill to the left, were firing at the field. As we got our bearings it was determined the machine guns were so well placed that our weapons couldn’t reach them.
To cross that field meant suicide. Yet we had no choice. The Germans had blockaded every other route into the town. In order to move on and secure a victory, we had to move forward.
I slumped against a tree, appalled at the grim situation. I thought of home, of my wife, and my five-month-old son. I had kissed him good-bye just after he was born. I thought I might never see my family again, and the possibility was overwhelming.
I dropped to my knees. “God,” I pleaded desperately, “You’ve got to do something. . . . Please do something.”
Moments later the order was given to advance. Grasping my M-1 rifle, I got to my feet and started forward. After reaching the edge of the clearing I took a deep breath. But just before I stepped out from the cover, I glanced to the left.
I stopped and stared in amazement. A white cloud – a long fluffy white cloud – had appeared out of nowhere. It dropped from over the trees and covered the area. The German’s line of fire was obscured by the thick foggy mist.
All of us bolted into the clearing and raced for our lives. The only sounds were of combat boots thudding against the soft earth as men dashed into the clearing, scrambling to reach the safety of the other side before the mist lifted. With each step the woods opposite came closer and closer. I was almost across! My pulse pounding in my ears, I lunged into the thicket and threw myself behind a tree.
I turned and watched as other soldiers following me dove frantically into the woods, some carrying and dragging the wounded. This has got to be God’s doing, I thought. I’m going to see what happens now.
The instant the last man reached safety, the cloud vanished! The day was again clear and bright. I can’t believe this.
The enemy, apparently thinking we were still pinned down behind the stone house on the other side, must have radioed their artillery. Minutes later the building was blown to bits. But our company was safe and we quickly moved on.
We reached Ossenburg and went on to secure more areas for the Allies. But the image of that cloud was never far from my mind. I had seen the sort of smoke screens that were sometimes set off to obscure troop activity in such a situation. That cloud had been different. It had appeared out of nowhere and saved our lives.
Two weeks later, as we
bivouacked in eastern
Who could forget her? I smiled. Everybody called Mrs. Tankersly the prayer warrior. Frankly, I sometimes thought she carried it a bit too far.
“Well,” continued my mother, “Mrs. Tankersly telephoned me one morning from the defense plant where she works. She said the Lord had awakened her the night before at one o’clock and told her, ‘Spencer January is in serious trouble. Get up now and pray for him!’”
My mother went on to explain that Mrs. Tankersly had interceded for me in prayer until six o’clock the next morning, when she had to go to her job. “She told me the last thing she prayed before getting off her knees was
this . . .” – here I paused to catch my breath – “’Lord, whatever danger Spencer is in, just cover him with a cloud!’”
I sat there for a long time holding the letter in my trembling hands. My mind raced, quickly calculating. Yes, the hours Mrs. Tankersly was praying would have indeed corresponded to the time we were approaching the clearing. And 6:00 A.M.? With a seven-hour time difference, her prayer for a cloud would have been uttered at one o’clock – just the time Company I was getting ready to make its daring dash.
From that moment on, I intensified my prayer life. For the past 52 years I have gotten up early every morning to pray for others. I am convinced there is no substitute for the power of prayer and its ability to comfort and sustain others, even those facing the valley of the shadow of death.
Six minutes to six, said the
clock over the information booth in
Lt. Blandford remembered one day in particular, the worst of the fighting, when his plane had been caught in the midst of a pack of enemy planes.
In one of those letters, he had confessed to her that often he felt fear, and only a few days before this battle, he had received her answer: “Of course you fear...all brave men do." Next time you doubt yourself, I want you to hear my voice reciting to you: 'Yea, though I
walk through the
He was going to hear her voice now. Four minutes to six.
A girl passed closer to him, and Lt. Blandford started. she was wearing a flower, but it was not the little red rose they had agreed upon. Besides, this girl was only about eighteen, and Hollis Maynel had told him she was 30. "What of it?" he had answered, "I'm 32." He was 29.
His mind went back to that
book he had read in the training camp. "Of
Human Bondage" it was; and throughout the book were notes in a woman's handwriting. He had never believed that a woman could see
into a man's heart so tenderly, so understandingly. Her name was on the bookplate: Hollis Maynell. He got a hold of a
shipped out, but they had gone on writing. For thirteen months she had faithfully replied. When his letters did not arrive, she wrote anyway, and now he believed he loved her, and she loved him.
But she had refused all his
pleas to send him her photograph. She
had explained: "If your feeling for
me had no reality, what I look like won't matter. Suppose I am beautiful. I'd always be haunted that you had been
taking a chance on just that, and that kind of love would disgust me. Suppose that I'm plain, (and you must admit
that this is more likely), then I'd always fear that you were only going on
writing because you were lonely and had no one else. No, don't ask for my picture. When you come to
One minute to six...he flipped the pages of the book he held. Then Lt. Blandford's heart leapt.
A young woman was coming toward him. Her figure was long and slim; her blond hair lay back in curls from delicate ears. Her eyes were blue as flowers, her lips and chin had a gentle firmness. In her pale-green suit, she was like springtime come alive. He started toward her, forgetting to notice that she was wearing no rose, and as he moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips.
"Going my way, soldier?" she murmured.
He made one step closer to her. Then he saw Hollis Maynell.
She was standing almost directly behind the girl, a woman well past 40, her graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump. Her thick-ankled feet were thrust into low-heeled shoes. But she wore a red rose on her rumpled coat. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away.
Blandford felt as though he were being split in two, so keen was his desire to follow the girl, yet so deep was his longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned and upheld his own, and there she stood. He could see her pale face was gentle and sensible; her gray eyes had a warm twinkle.
Lt. Blandford did not hesitate. His fingers gripped the worn copy of "Of Human Bondage" which was to identify him to her. This would not be love, but it would be something special, a friendship for which he had been and must be ever grateful...
He squared his shoulders, saluted, and held the book out toward the woman, although even while he spoke he felt the bitterness of his disappointment.
"I'm Lt. Blandford, and you're Miss Maynell. I'm so glad you could meet me. May--may I take you to dinner?"
The woman's face broadened in a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is all about, son," she answered. "That young lady in the green suit, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said that if you asked me to go out with you, I should tell you she's waiting for you in that restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test."
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore
The elderly caretaker of a peaceful lonely cemetery received a check every month from a woman, an invalid in a hospital in a nearby city. The check was to buy fresh flowers for the grave of her son, who had been killed in an automobile accident a couple years before.
One day a car drove into the cemetery and stopped in front of the caretaker’s ivy-covered administration building. A man was driving the car. In the back seat sat an elderly lady, pale as death, her eyes half-closed.
“The lady is too ill to walk,” the driver told the caretaker. “Would you mind coming with us to her son’s grave – she has a favor to ask of you. You see, she is dying, and she has asked me, as an old family friend, to bring her out here for one last look at her son’s grave.”
“Is this Mrs. Wilson?” the caretaker asked. The man nodded.
“Yes, I know who she is. She’s the one who has been sending me a check every month to put flowers on her son’s grave.” The caretaker followed the man to the car and got in beside the woman. She was frail and obviously near death. But there was something else about her face, the caretaker noted – the eyes dark and sullen, hiding some deep, long-lasting hurt.
“I am Mrs. Wilson,” she whispered. “Every month for the past two years –“
“Yes, I know. I have attended to it, just as you asked.”
“I have come here today,” she went on, “because the doctors tell me I have only a few weeks left. I shall not be sorry to go. There is nothing left to live for. But before I die, I wanted to come here for one last look and to make arrangements with you to keep on placing the flowers on my son’s grave.”
She seemed exhausted – the effort to speak sapping her strength. The car made its way down a narrow, gravel road to the grave. When they reached the grave, the woman, with what appeared to be great effort, raised herself slightly and gazed out the window at her son’s tombstone. There was no sound during the moments that followed – only the chirping of the birds in the tall, old trees scattered among the graves.
Finally, the caretaker spoke. “You know, Ma’am, I was always sorry you kept sending the money for the flowers.”
The woman seemed at first not to hear. Then slowly she turned toward him. “Sorry?” she whispered. “Do you realize what you are saying – my son . . .”
“Yes, I know,” he said gently. “But, you see, I belong to a church group that every week visits hospitals, asylums, prisons. There are live people in those places who need cheering up, and most of them love flowers – they can see them and smell them. That grave –“ he said, “over there – there’s no one living, no one to see and smell the beauty of the flowers . . .” he looked away, his voice trailing off.
The woman did not answer, but just kept staring at the grave of her son. After what seemed like hours, she lifted her hand and the man drove them back to the caretaker’s building. He got out and without a word they drove off. I’ve offended her, he thought. I shouldn’t have said what I did.
Some months later, however, he was astonished to have another visit from the woman. This time there was no driver. She was driving the car herself! The caretaker could hardly believe his eyes.
“You were right,” she told him, “about the flowers. That’s why there have been no more checks. After I got back to the hospital, I couldn’t get your words out of my mind. So I started buying flowers for the others in the hospital who didn’t have any. It gave me such a feeling of joy to see how much they enjoyed them – and from a total stranger. It made them happy, but more than that, it made me happy.
“The doctors don’t know, “ she went on, “what is suddenly making me well, but I do!”
Bits & Pieces