A couple of years ago I was called out into the hallway at Cornell Hotel de France because someone
wanted to see me. I arrived to meet a remarkably handsome young couple; I have no idea what he looked
like, but she was tall and elegant and one of the most beautiful creatures I’ve ever seen.
She smiled warmly and said, “Don’t you remember me?”
When she told me her name I did remember.
And this is what I remembered.
When she was a tiny little girl we’d gone to visit her parents—I think they were in Evanston at the time—
and she was either just beginning to read, or had a burning desire to learn. While we were there, she
discovered the word ‘suddenly’. This was a miraculous discovery for her. I don't know if she could
recognize the word in print, but she certainly understood the full wonder of that word.
One day, she took a large book down from the book shelf—a big book with grown-up stuff in it—and
she crawled up onto the sofa, and she opened that book in her lap, and she began to read aloud to us.
As she read, her finger traced the words she imagined upon that page, and a mystery began to unfold.
The mystery grew with each word she spoke.
“Once upon a time, there was a little boy,” she read. “and he went for a walk…”
She looked up to see if we were with her. We were, of course.
“SUDDENLY,” she declared, “a duck appeared.”
She looked around to see if we were all as startled as she was. And we were. Quite naturally, we could
hardly wait to see what happened next.
“And the little boy, and the duck, they went around the corner," she continued, "and…”
From her tone, we knew something was about to happen, we just didn’t know when.
“SUDDENLY…” Her eyes grew real big—that’s just how sudden it was… “it began to rain.”
She read an entire story from that book, and I can't recall how it all turned out, but I can tell you this:
there certainly were a lot of things that happened suddenly in that story… and each one more startling
and unexpected than the last.
So, I can’t explain why I found myself telling my wife about that on our way back from walking the
dogs the other day, but I did. And my very dear wife said, “There’s not much of a story there.”
And SUDDENLY,,, my heart filled and overflowed with warmth at that delightful memory.
“Oh, I don’t know,” I said, “maybe I just didn’t tell it so well.”