Childhood Heroes

Jerry was excited. His dad was taking him to a flea market! He got to see his dad every other Saturday because of his parent’s divorce and today was his turn to be with his dad. Meeting his dad at the curb he got in, buckled up, and waved goodbye to his mom.

“Now Jerry, I’ll give you $10 to spend on anything you see that you like,” his father admonished. “All I ask is that you don’t spend it on junk. Spend it on something you really want.”

“Ok Dad!” he answered, “But I want to see everything first before I decide.”

They arrived at the market, parked, and started down the long rows of vendors. There were video games, books, movies, action figures, and just about anything a young boy could possibly want. There was one booth that caught Jeremy’s eye. There was an older dealer who had a booth full of sports cards. There were rows and rows of his favorite players. One card caught his eye, a Kobe Bryant rookie card. He had several of Kobe’s cards in his collection but not his rookie card. His heart sank when he saw the price. One hundred dollars! It might as well have been one million dollars! There was no way he could afford it, and he knew his dad couldn’t buy it for him because of the divorce.

Seeing the look on his face, his dad motioned for him to go on to the next booth.

“Come on, Jerry, let’s see if there is something else you might like,” offered his dad.

The card dealer had observed the whole thing and as they walked away he started thinking about his own childhood and what had been important to him.

Jerry and his father worked their way around the market, stopping at each booth to see if there was anything else Jerry wanted to spend his money on. Finding nothing, they headed back toward their car. As they passed the card dealer’s booth, he motioned for them to stop.

“Young man, who is your favorite player?” asked the dealer.

“Kobe Bryant,” Jerry answered.

“Do you see any of his cards you like?”

Jerry’s eyes immediately went to the rookie card.

“This one but I can’t afford it,” he said.

“Well, let me look at the card for a minute,” he replied as he took it from the case.

The dealer glanced at the back of the card and then studied Jerry’s face for a moment.

“It seems that I’ve made a mistake,” offered the dealer,” This card is way overpriced. It’s supposed to be $10, not $100.”

Jerry’s eyes opened wide with excitement as he got his money from his pocket.

“I have $10. I’ll take it!” he shouted with excitement.

Jerry’s dad watched with amazement and, as they walked away, he turned and looked at the dealer. There was a smile on the dealer’s face and a tear on his cheek. He had lost money on the card but felt good for what he had done. As a child, his favorite player was Mickey Mantle. He had come from a poor family and there was no way his father could come up with the money for him to buy packs to try to find a Mantle rookie card. But he had a favorite uncle who knew how much he loved Mickey Mantle. One day his uncle had asked him to mow his yard. He really didn’t want to but his uncle had been so good to him that he went ahead and did it anyway. After finishing mowing, his uncle called him aside and handed him an envelope. Much to his surprise inside was a Mantle rookie card. He had always remembered what his uncle had done and now it was his turn to pass a blessing on to someone else.

On his way home that evening he remembered something his mother had told him as a child. Again a smile and tear came as he remembered those words.

“It is far better to give than receive.”

August 29, 2020