2013-03-14 / Columns

Chicken Soup For The Soul

Six-Inch Ruler

by Linda Benfield

“We are never so lost our angels cannot find us.” – Stephanie Powers

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A mother mysteriously finds a broken ruler.

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My son Danny was unexpectedly taken to heaven by an attack of spinal meningitis three months short of his 10th birthday. That happened 34 years ago, and God has brought me through the pain remarkably well. He was a healthy, well-adjusted little boy who loved football. He also loved his family and never hesitated to show concern and affection. I really miss that part of him. He would often tell me on our way to school, “Mom, you sure do look pretty today.” When I think of that, it still brings a lump to my throat.

Fast forward to last summer. I had taken up a little ministry of making small tip boxes out of greeting cards. I included an encouraging note and gave them along with the tip to waitresses and other service personnel. They seem to enjoy receiving the box more than the tip. Many have told me they keep the little box, sometimes with the tip still inside.

I use a 6-inch ruler to measure the folds while making the boxes. One day while making them I realized I had lost my little ruler. I tried using a longer one, but it was too awkward for the task, so I started shopping for a 6-inch ruler. I was having a hard time finding one.

One day after struggling to make the boxes with a larger ruler, I took a break and walked to the outside building where my husband was working. There are shelves on one wall that house containers of things that have been there since we moved in 10 years ago. As I walked through the door, my husband was standing there doing something near a table under the shelves. I was about to ask him something when a small object on the table caught my eye. It was a piece of a broken ruler. I asked what it was. He looked at it and said he had never seen it before. I picked it up, turned it over and remembered. It was the first 6 inches of an old wooden ruler that had been broken in half more than 30 years ago. It still had the cellophane tape remnants of an attempt to mend it. I turned it over and my eyes instantly welled up as I read the child-like writing carved into the wood. “Danny D.” It had been my son Danny’s school ruler. My memory shot back to the time he had broken it in two and I tried to fix it for him. I knew that I had never thrown it away, but how it suddenly showed up baffled me.

I turned to my husband with tears streaming down my face and said, “Look who this belonged to.” His eyes also welled as he looked at me and said, “He has been here.”

The ruler had been broken when Danny was in the fourth grade, not long before he died. It somehow was packed away in the boxes on the shelves, but never showed up until 34 years later when I needed a 6-inch ruler. I still cannot explain how it got there, but it is now one of my tools for my little ministry of encouraging people with tiny tip boxes. Thank you, Danny; I love you.

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(c)2013 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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