A TRUE STORY: Boy In Love With a Telephone Operator

12 03 2016

Telephone operato and the boy

When I was quite young, my family had one of the first telephones in our neighourhood. I remember well the polished oak case fastened to the wall on the lower stair landing. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I even remembered the number—105. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked into it. Once she lifted me up to speak to my father, who was away on business. Magic! Then I discovered that somewhere inside that wonderful device lived an amazing person—her name was “Information Please” and there was nothing that she did not know. My mother could ask her for anybody’s number and when our clock ran down, Information Please immediately supplied the correct time.

My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-receiver came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbour. Amusing myself at the toolbench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn’t seem to be of much use crying because there was no one home to offer sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver and held it to my ear. “Information Please,” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two, and a small clear voice spoke into my ear. “Information.” “I hurt my fingerrr—” I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience. “Isn’t your mother home?” came the question. “Nobody’s at home but me,” I blubbered. “Are you bleeding?”. “No”, I replied. “I hit it with the hammer and it hurts”. “Can you open your icebox?” she asked. I said I could. “Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it on your finger. That will stop the hurt. Be careful when you use the ice pick,” she admonished. “And don’t cry. You’ll be alright”.

After that, I called Information Please for everything. I asked for help with my Geography and she told me where Philadelphia was, and the Orinoco—the romantic river I was going to explore when I grew up. She helped me with my Arithmetic, and she told me that a pet chipmunk—I had caught him in the park just that day before—would eat fruits and nuts. And there was the time that Petey, our pet canary, died. I called Information Please and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown-up say to soothe a child. But I was unconsoled. Why was it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to whole families, only to end as a heap of feathers feet up, on the bottom of a cage? She must have sensed my deep concern, for she quietly said, “Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.” Somehow, I felt better.

Another day I was at the telephone. “Information,” said the now familiar voice. “How do you spell fix?”. F-I-X.” At that instant my sister, who took unholy joy in scaring me, jumped off the stairs at me with a banshee shriek—“Yaaaaaaaaaa!” I fell off the stool, pulling the receiver out of the box by its roots. We were both terrified—Information Please was no longer there, and I was not at all sure that I hadn’t hurt her when I pulled the receiver out. Minutes later, there was a man on the porch. “I’m a telephone repairman. I was working down the street and the operator said there might be some trouble at this number.” He reached for the receiver in my hand. “What happened?” I told him. “Well, we can fix that in a minute or two.” He opened the telephone box exposing a maze of wires and coils, and fiddled for a while with the end of the receiver cord, tightened things with a small screwdriver. He jiggled the hook up and down a few times, then spoke into the phone. “Hi, this is Pete. Everything’s under control at 105. The kid’s sister scared him and he pulled the cord out of the box.” He hung up, smiled, gave me a pat on the head and walked out the door.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. Then, when I was nine years old, we moved across he country to Boston—and I missed my mentor acutely. Information Please belonged in that old wooden box back at home, and I somehow never thought if trying the tall, skinny new phone that sat on the small table in the hall. Yet, as I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversation never really left me; often in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had when I know that I could call Information Please and get the right answer. I appreciated now how very patient, understanding and kind she was to have wasted her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way back to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about half an hour between plan connections, and I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister who lived there now, happily mellowed by marriage and motherhood. Then, really without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information Please.” Miraculously, I heard again the small, clear voice that I know so well:“Information.” I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying, “Could you tell me, please, how to spell the word ‘fix’?” There was a long pause. Then came the softly spoken answer. “I guess,” said Information Please, “that your finger must have healed by now.” I laughed. “So it’s really still you. I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during all that time….” “I wonder,” she replied, “if you know how much you meant to me? I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls. Silly, wasn’t it?” It didn’t seem silly, but I didn’t say so. Instead I told her how often I had thought of her over the years, and I asked if I could call her again when I come back to visit my sister when the semester was over. “Please do. Just ask for Sally.” “Goodbye Sally.” It sounded strange for Information Please to have a name. “If I run into any chipmunks, I’ll tell them to eat fruits and nuts.” “Do that,” she said. “And I expect one of these days you’ll be off for the Orinoco. Well, good-bye.”

Just three months later, I was back again at the Seattle airport. A different voice answered, “Information,” and I asked for Sally. “Are you a friend?” “Yes,” I said. “An old friend.” “Then I’m sorry to have to tell you. Sally had only been working part-time in the last few years because she was ill. She died five weeks ago.” But before I could hung up, she said, “Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Villard?” “Yes.” “Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down.” “What was it?” I asked, almost knowing in advance what it would be. “Here it is, I’ll read it—‘Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He’ll know what I mean’”

I thanked her and hung up. I did know what Sally meant.

Paul Villard





13 How I Met My Love Stories

12 02 2016

13 true love stories
1. The damsel in zero distress.

“On the Metro ride home one night, I made eye contact with a gorgeous young woman on the platform. I went back to my phone and didn’t think much of it, but she came and sat next to me. Nervous, I didn’t say anything. After several stops, she asked if the train was going to a certain stop. I gave her a quick, ‘Yeah, the sign is over there,’ trying to avoid being the creepy passenger that’s more interested in the person than providing directions. She was persistent and kept asking questions. I gave her my business card before I got off the train and she pointed out that my cell phone number wasn’t on it. We went out the next night and had a great conversation. We’ve been dating ever since.

P.S. A few days later, she admitted she knew *exactly* where she was going that day.”

— Jordan Uhl, Facebook
2. The one time, at band camp…

“I had just finished training as an Army musician and been posted to my first band. When I’m nervous I lose my appetite, so I hadn’t eaten much before my first engagement, which involved standing on a parade square for about an hour and a half. Needless to say, I blacked out and one of the other musicians saw me swaying and caught me and my saxophone before I fell. It took three men to carry me off the square, and the first person I saw when I came around was the musician who caught me. We’ve been together 10 years now and married for eight!”
— claire

3. The lost luggage-turned-found romance.

“A few years ago, I flew to Rome for an archaeological dig and used my field kit as my second carry-on. Well, just my luck: after a 10-hour plane ride, I discovered the airline lost my luggage. After filing my report, I went to my hostel to have a shower and take a long nap. After check in, I asked the girl at the counter where to go to buy supplies and clothes etc, explaining to her my experience with my luggage. When I got back from my shopping trip I found out that my ‘roommates’ had used my allotted towels. Anyway, I went back to the front desk to ask about getting some more towels, and just as the clerk was telling me they didn’t have any more clean towels, the cutest guy I have ever seen tapped my shoulder, telling me that he had some I could borrow. He was visiting from Ireland, and he always brought his own towels while traveling. Apparently, he heard my story earlier and felt really bad for me, and wished there was something he could do. So we went to his room together to get them, and along the way he invited me out for a drink to help improve my day. The best decision in my life was saying yes, because that, boys and girls, is how I met my husband.”


Alice Mongkongllite

4. The laundry money that turned into cupid’s arrow.

“My husband and I lived in the same college dorm when we met. Three months into the semester, while doing his laundry, he realized he was 75 cents short and unable to finish drying his last bit of clothes. He walked around the nearby lobby, checking to see if anyone may have any change. I was sitting at a table with friends and happened to have my wallet with me. I looked inside and there were three single quarters. Nothing more. Nothing less. I let him have my quarters and we exchanged names.

Four years later, we were exchanging vows. Not a bad deal for me. 75 cents for the love of my life… wait, did he ever pay me back?”

— Savannah Pyron, Facebook

5. The radio interview that became a date.

“It was the early 00’s and I was a blogger, like all twenty-something women. I had a fairly popular/humorous blog about dating in my hometown. The local paper did a full article on me with a big photo. Later that day, I got an email from some radio DJ inviting me on his show for an interview. I didn’t listen to that station and I had no idea who he was, but my mom said, ‘Go for it! It could be fun!’ I met him the following week for the on-air interview. We were engaged eight months later and will be married 10 years in October, and have three children. I would have missed out on my whole life if I skipped that interview!”

— kristy

6. The love story for the digital age.

“When I was a freshman in high school, I was texting my friend. For no reason at all, instead of sending my text to my friend, my phone sent it to a random Florida number. He texted me back asking who I was and when we figured out the strange phenomenon, he asked if I wanted to be friends. We hit it off from there and almost seven years later we’re still together.”

— bridgets
7. The classic coffee shop run-in.

“I was at a coffee shop and there was a gorgeous man a few people ahead of me in line. We made eye contact a couple times and he was so good looking, my heart was beating out of my chest! He ordered, I waited my turn and got my own cup of coffee. I walked over to the table where cream and sugars are kept and he came over to fix up his coffee, too. He picked up the sugar bowl and said to me, ‘Do you take sugar?’ and promptly dropped the bowl right at my feet, covering both our shoes! We both cracked up and decided to get a table together. We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary last month!”

— heatherannm

8. The dead car that gave a relationship life.

“I was about to turn 30, so I decided to do something ‘fun’ every day for the last month of my twenties. I ended up doing a lot of stupid meet-up things, including a Cards Against Humanity tournament at a pub. Everyone there was told to make sure their cars weren’t parked in a certain lot. Of course mine was in that lot, but when I went out to move it, my car was dead. I had to call for a tow truck, and the minute I met the tow truck driver, I took one look at him and something clicked in me. I ended up spending the next two hours with him in the truck, talking, laughing, and flirting HARD. When he dropped me off at home, I gave him my number. I had just enough time to text my sister and tell her about how thankful I was that my car broke down, when he sent me a text. We have been together two years now, and he is the love of my life!”

— kearag

9. The dog-meets-dog moment.

“My husband and I met walking dogs. It was a sunny summer day before my summer college class, and I was walking my roommate’s dog. I had no makeup on, it was my third day of not washing my hair, and I was just thinking to myself how I really needed to look human like for my class while sitting on the grass waiting for the dog to potty. Suddenly, I heard someone say hello… and when I looked up, it was a tall, good-looking guy with a Golden Retriever (my favorite breed)! We talked for a couple of minutes while our dogs smelled each other’s butts and we each went back to our apartments. Soon, we began to secretly anticipate each other’s schedules so that we could take our dogs out at the same time and be able to talk. After running into each other several times, he finally asked me out on a date. Now, a couple of years down the road, we have been blissfully married for five months!”

— jihaek
10. The concert of love.

“I went out last-minute to a concert with a friend during finals week, which I thought I would immediately end up regretting. But I met a super-cute guy there and we really hit it off. Unfortunately, I was moving to another city, so I told him that nothing was going to come of it… until he told me he actually lived in the city I was moving to. He ended up picking me up from the airport when I arrived, and the rest is history.”

— wildern

11. The fateful hockey match.

“My now-fiancé and I literally ran into one another while on the same co-ed hockey team. This was my first match on this new team after just moving to this new state. I got lost on the way to the rink, so I showed up late and didn’t have the chance to meet all my new teammates. We were both skating fast for the puck so we hit at incredible speed. He jumped up and helped me up. The moment we locked eyes was it and we have been together for the last four years. Needless to say, we were love struck after that crash.”

— Gohill89

12. The non-pet friendly hotel.

“I had just moved to town and my apartment wasn’t ready yet, so I had to stay in a hotel. The hotel had a strange rooming system. I was in 4B — the clerk said the door would be cracked open because the cleaning crew had just finished. I reached a cracked door and assumed it was mine, so I opened it. There was a man standing there with a dog in a non pet-friendly hotel. He just looked at me and said, ‘Please do not tell on me! My house is being fumigated and this was the best hotel I could afford!’ I just laughed and said, ‘Dude, chill. I just moved here, my dogs in the car, I intend on sneaking her in too. Your dog is cute as hell.’

We ended up really hitting it off, as did our dogs. He went home the next day, but we exchanged numbers. On my second-to-last day at the hotel, somebody called in about my dog. They let me stay, but said my dog had to go. He offered us both a place to crash, which I said was too weird, but I let my dog stay. We ended up dating and are still together.”

–HMC

13. The low blood sugar sweethearts.

“Before he was my husband, I worked in the same department with him at work. I was also part of a medical first response team made up of trained volunteers for on-the-job medical emergencies that might arise. My husband is diabetic and he had low blood sugar at work one day. His normal response to a low is falling asleep, but this day, he was very animated and laughing and jumping around. I and a couple other medical team members were trying to calm him down and get him to eat something to bring his blood sugar up. To stop him from running through the facility, I was holding his hand. Once we got him to calm down and sit, I sat next to him and talked. I maaaaay have been flirting a little bit. He was cute, after all. He kept saying he loved my smile and asked why was my face turning red. Anyway, after that we started to talk at work and a few weeks later he asked me over for dinner. We were engaged three months later and have now been together six years and married for four. And the really crazy thing was that day I was actually supposed to be on vacation, but plans feel through.”

— Susan Wellhoefer Roeske, Facebook

Stories courtesy of BuzzFeed Community





9 Things a Man Wants In a Woman by Matt Archbold

10 02 2016

man wants in woman

What does a man want in a woman? It’s been an unanswered question for centuries mostly because men aren’t stupid enough to try to answer it.

But I am.

Recently, Catherine Frank wrote about the traits a woman seeks in a man. It’s a good list that made a lot of readers think (and comment!).

I do believe God has someone out there in mind for everyone, but unfortunately God doesn’t give us an exact roadmap to find “The One.” We all need help sometimes, so here’s some thoughts on very important things a man wants in a woman.

  1. Honesty.This is the most important trait any man is looking for in a woman. I knew a guy in college who was absolutely bonkers about a girl. She really was wonderful in many ways. One night, after they’d been dating a few weeks, they walked into a party together and someone asked her an innocent question. She casually, yet believably, lied. Her response wasn’t even about something particularly important, but it was still a lie. My buddy didn’t think about it much in the moment, but later it bothered him to no end. Certainly the lie was bad enough, but he was concerned by the ease with which she lied. In future conversations he couldn’t forget how easily she’d lied and for no reason. It destroyed their relationship.

If a woman is dishonest with a man, it’ll eat us up and then we’ll become unbearable. Honesty is the basic building block for every other facet of your relationship. If you don’t have honesty, you don’t have a relationship. You’re simply managing the other person.

  1. No Half Anniversaries Please.Men hardly know what to do with our actual anniversary, not that we remember them anyway. The greatest thing that 21st century men have going for them is that we can just put the dates of our anniversary, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day into our phones and when we check to see where we’re supposed to be the next morning, we see that we better get to the florist right quick.

But what do we do with half anniversaries? There’s no half anniversary app to remind us and there’s no established protocol for such half-special days. My wife and I have an actual anniversary. I can’t tell you what it is off the top of my head, but we have one.

Then one day she comes and kisses me and tells me that it is the anniversary of our first date. What? Is that a thing? I don’t remember it being a thing before. There’s no card for that. I thought flowers were a little over the top. Chocolate was too holiday-ish. So I settled on rubbing her feet while we watched television. She seemed to like it. Win.

In reality, half anniversaries and actual holidays scare men to no end. We don’t know what to do with them. We would love if women would not think too much about what we do on those days of the year, but focus on what we do the other 364 days of the year. Like all the times we went out to start your car early so that it was warm by the time you came out. Or when we painted the room “Carolina Blue” because you didn’t like “Deep Sky Blue” anymore. We don’t even see the difference, but we do it because we love you.

Real love is not about Valentine’s Day or anniversaries. It’s about a lifetime of random Tuesdays.

  1. A Fair Fighter.This one sounds weird, right? Look, in any relationship you’re going to havedisagreements—sometimes big ones—and passions can run pretty high. Most important in a fight is to have a spouse who isn’t out to win the argument at all costs.

We also have to avoid arguing past each other. Very often, men want to argue logic and women tend to argue with more emotion. So we’re often at an impasse. But if there’s one thing men can’t stand it’s making a woman cry. We often run a quick cost/benefit analysis to decide whether to continue the fight once the tears start. Very often the man will just apologize to end it, but it’s not really over. We think we’re right and sometimes feel as if we were manipulated into surrender. Now, a man will likely not keep that specific argument going, but the resentment will still be there. It will rear its ugly head in an argument over the remote control or about leaving cabinet doors slightly ajar. And we’ll look like crazy people.

  1. Men Want Women Who Get Freaked Out by Bugs.Don’t kill bugs. We like doing it. The more skeeved out by the little critters women are, the happier we are. We get very little opportunity to display our manliness anymore since carrying swords became unfashionable (and probably even illegal in some states.) So killing bugs is something we can do to save you. And we like saving you. Let’s face it, the Empire isn’t going to kidnap you and force us to break into the Death Star to free you from their evil clutches. So right now all we’ve got is saving you from the hairy 30-odd-legged creature on the living room ceiling. We’ll take it. So scream away ladies. Scream away.
  2. Accept That We’re Men.Men are desperate for a woman who accepts that men are different than women. Very, very different. Sometimes silence is just our default setting. Don’t be upset when we don’t talk through our feelings. Don’t be upset when you ask us what we’re thinking about and we say nothing because guess what; we were probably actually thinking about nothing. We’re capable of that. And we’re good at it.

Men desperately want a woman who will accept them and not try to change them. God created us as man and woman. Different. Don’t try to undo God.

  1. A Woman Who Cares About Her Appearance.OK, let’s get this out of the way. Men are often accused of being superficial and visual. That’s because it’s sort of true. Men do appreciate a woman’s looks. But here’s the thing: we find the vast majority of women attractive. I’m not kidding, the vast majority. So yeah, we care about looks but we pretty much think you’re all great. It’s true. We want a woman who cares about how she looks…but not too much. Concern about one’s appearance can sometimes tip over into superficiality, however. It’s a fine line but hey, nobody said it’s easy being a woman.
  2. Please Say What You Mean.Men would love to find a woman who doesn’t ask a question when they’re actually trying to tell us something. My wife and I were driving home one night and she asked me if I was in the mood for ice cream. I wasn’t. And kept on driving.

Here’s the thing, every guy reading this doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with what just happened. Every girl knows exactly what came next. I pulled up to our house and started walking in and could tell she was upset. I asked what was wrong and she wanted to know why I didn’t ask her if she wanted ice cream.

“Do you want ice cream?” I asked, thinking this could be a quick fix. I thought if she wanted ice cream I’d just hop back into the car and go get her some. No problem.

But she tells me it’s not about the ice cream. She tells me it’s that I didn’t ask her if she wanted ice cream. She says it’s about communication, and love, and thinking about the other’s feelings, and wanting to do nice things for each other. She explains this to me for about 10 minutes. When she finally takes a breath I ask, “So do you want me to go get you ice cream?”

She stared at me as if I just won the crazy contest. She sighed and walked sadly back into the house. You know what I did? I went and got her ice cream. She said it didn’t help, but she was too busy munching it down to continue our conversation.

  1. Respect.I always tell my son that when you’re looking for a wife, look to see how she treats her parents because that’s likely how she’ll eventually treat you. Now, my son is nine years old and horrified at the thought of girls so he doesn’t listen very closely but someday, I assume, he’ll come looking for my sage advice. Until then I’ll just write my advice to complete strangers, like you

 





Always Tell Your Wife You Love Her : A Story

8 02 2014

A married couple came to a counsellor for advice. No sooner were they seated, than they began speaking at the same time in a duel of criticisms. When they finally stopped for lack of breath, the counsellor suggested that now they tell each other all the good they see in one another. There was total silence.
Then each was given a ballpoint pen and a sheet of paper and told to write down something praiseworthy about the other. Neither of them wrote. They both sat and stared at the paper. After what seemed like a long time, the husband started to write something. At once the wife also began to write – fast and furiously.
Finally the writing stopped. There was silence again. The wife pushed her paper over to the watching counsellor. He pushed it back signalling that she was to give it directly to her husband. She reluctantly shoved the paper half way across the table. He took it and in turn, slid his paper towards his wife.
Each began to read. The counsellor watched… Soon a tear slid down the cheek of the wife. She crumpled the paper in her fist and held it tight. That proved that she treasured the sudden revelation of good things her husband had expressed about her. The whole atmosphere of the room changed. There was no need for anything to be said. Praise had healed a thousand wounds.
The husband and wife left arm in arm.





Marriage Isn’t For You By Seth Smith

15 11 2013

marriage is not for you

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and aguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.

SKwedding394
Marriage is about family.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

This post originally appeared on ForwardWalking.com, a website dedicated to helping people move forward in life.





Pope Francis is Kissing A Horribly Disfigured Man

7 11 2013

God Loves You, Jesus Loves You And I love You

Like St Francis Who Kissed A Leper, Pope Francis is Kissing A Horribly Disfigured Man .God Loves You, Jesus Loves You, And Francis Loves You.

Disfigured man embraced by Pope: ‘I felt only love’

By Daniel Burke and Livia Borghese, CNN

Rome (CNN)  The photo roused emotions and sparked conversations around the world – but the man at the center of the image says the moment left him speechless.

“I tried to speak, to tell him something, but I couldn’t: The emotion was too strong,” says Vinicio Riva, the disfigured man embraced by Pope Francis in images that went viral.

“It all lasted not more than a minute, but it seemed an eternity,” Riva told the Italian magazine Panorama this weekend.

Riva, whose body is covered with tumors due to a rare disease, said his unusual appearance has led to a lifetime of living on the margins.

That is, until he showed up at St. Peter’s Square on November 6.

Riva went to Rome on the advice of a friend with whom he travels to Lourdes, the Catholic shrine in France visited by thousands of ailing and infirm pilgrims each year.

After meeting Francis, Riva said he kissed the Pope’s hand. Then the Pope pulled Riva toward him, hugging the 53-year-old Italian and kissing his face.

MORE ON CNN: Why the Pope’s embrace is so powerful

Riva, who lives in Vicenza in northern Italy, said he suffers from neurofibromatosis Type 1, which causes painful tumors to grow throughout his body. His younger sister and late mother also suffered from the rare disease, Riva told Panorama.

The first signs of the disease began when he was 15, Riva said, and since then, he has often felt ostracized because of his unusual appearance.

But the Pope showed no sign of discomfort as he approached, said Riva. Instead, the pontiff’s face broke into a calm smile.

“But what most astonished me is that he didn’t think twice on embracing me,” Riva said. “I’m not contagious, but he didn’t know. He just did it; he caressed all my face, and while he was doing that, I felt only love.”





No Arms No Legs No Worries

17 10 2013

how a child without limbs became ridiculourly happy
My name is Nick Vujicic (pronounced Voy-a-chich). I am twenty-seven years old. I was born without any limbs, but I am not constrained by my circumstances. I travel the world encouraging millions of people to overcome adversity with faith, hope, love, and courage so that they may pursue their dreams. In this book I will share with you my experiences in dealing with adversity and obstacles, some of them unique to me but most universal to us all. My goal is to encourage you to overcome your own challenges and hardships so you can find your own purpose and pathway to a ridiculously good life. Often we feel life is unfair. Hard times and tough circumstances can trigger self-doubt and despair. I understand that well. But the Bible says, “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of any kinds.” That is a lesson I struggled many years to learn. I eventually figured it out, and through my experiences I can help you see that most of the hardships we face provide us with opportunities to discover who we are meant to be and what we can share of our gifts to benefit others. My parents are devout Christians, but after I was born with neither arms nor legs, they wondered what God had in mind in creating me. At first they assumed that there was no hope and no future for someone like me, that I would never live a normal or productive life. Today, though, my life is beyond anything we could have imagined. Every day I hear from strangers via telephone, e-mail, text, and Twitter. They approach me in airports, hotels, and restaurants and hug me, telling me that I have touched their lives in some way. I am truly blessed. I am ridiculously happy. What my family and I could not foresee was that my disability—my “burden”—could also be a blessing, offering me unique opportunities for reaching out to others, empathizing with them, understanding their pain, and offering them comfort. Yes, I do have distinct challenges, but I also am blessed with a loving family, with a keen enough mind, and with a deep and abiding faith. I’ll be candid here and throughout the book in sharing that neither my faith nor my sense of purpose grew strong until I went through some very scary times. You see, as I entered those difficult adolescent years when we all wonder where we fit in, I despaired over my circumstances, feeling that I never would be “normal.” There was no hiding the fact that my body was not like my classmates’. As much as I tried to do ordinary activities like swimming and skateboarding, I would only become more and more aware that there were simply some things I would never be able to do. It didn’t help that a few cruel kids called me a freak and an alien. Of course, I’m all too human and wanted to be like everyone else, but there seemed little chance for that. I wanted to be accepted. I felt I wasn’t. I wanted to fit in. It seemed I didn’t. And I hit a wall. My heart ached. I was depressed, overwhelmed with negative thoughts, and didn’t see any point in my life. I felt alone even when I was surrounded by family and friends. I worried that I would always be a burden to those I loved. But I was so, so wrong. What I didn’t know back in those dark days could fill a book:the one you’re holding, actually. In the pages that follow, I will offer you methods for finding hope even amid arduous trials and heartbreaking tribulations. I’ll light the path to the other side of grief where you can emerge stronger, more determined, and empowered to pursue the life you want, and perhaps even to find a life beyond any you could have imagined. If you have the desire and passion to do something, and it’s within God’s will, you will achieve it. That’s a powerful statement. To be honest, I didn’t always believe it myself. If you’ve seen one of my talks posted on the Internet, the happiness I have that shines through in those videos is the result of the journey I’ve made. I didn’t have everything I needed at first and had to pick up several important attributes along the way. To live without limits, I found I needed:
A powerful sense of purpose Hope so strong that it cannot be diminished
Faith in God and the infinite possibilities
Love and self-acceptance
Attitude with altitude
A courageous spirit Willingness to change
A trusting heart
Hunger for opportunities
The ability to assess risks and to laugh at life
A mission to serve others first.

 








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