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A Thousand Marbles

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings.
Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or
maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work.  Either
way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the basement
with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the
other.  What began as a typical Saturday morning turned in to one of those
lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time.  Let me tell you about it.

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in
order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came
across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice.
You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in
the broadcasting business.  He was telling whomever he was talking
with something about "a thousand marbles."

I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say.

"Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with
your job.  I'm sure they pay you well, but it's a shame you have to be away
from home and your family so much.  Hard to believe a young fellow should have
to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet.  Too bad you
missed your daughter's dance recital." He continued, "Let me tell you
something, Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own
priorities."  And that's when he began to explain his theory of "a thousand marbles."

"You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic.  The average
person lives about seventy-five years.  I know, some live more and some live
less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.  Now then, I
multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of
Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.  Now stick
with me, Tom, I'm getting to the important part." 

It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any
detail."  He went on, "and by that time I had lived through over
twenty-eight hundred Saturdays.  I got to thinking that if I lived to be
seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.  So I went
to a toy store and bought every single marble they had.  I ended up having
to visit three toy stores to round-up 1,000 marbles.
I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container
right here in the basement next to my gear."
"Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.
I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really
important things in life.  There is nothing like watching your time here on
this earth run out to help get your priorities straight."

"Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my
lovely wife out for breakfast.  This morning I took the very last marble out
of the container.  I figure if I make it until next Saturday, then I have
been given a little extra time.  And the one thing we can all use is a little extra time."

"It was nice to meet you, Tom.  I hope you spend more time with your family,
and I hope to meet you again here on the band. Seventy-five year-old man,
this is K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!"

You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off.  I
guess he gave us all a lot to think about.

I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to
meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter.  Instead, I
went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss.

"C'mon honey.  I'm taking
you and the kids to breakfast."

"What brought this on?" she asked with a smile.
"Oh, nothing special.  It's just been a long time
since we spent a Saturday together with the kids.  Hey, can we stop at a toy
store while we're out?  I need to buy some marbles."



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