The following was sent to me by my friend Felton Floyd who lives in a beautiful place called Sugar Valley, Georgia. He holds an amateur radio license, and it was in that amateur radio world that this story originated:
“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 garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. I turned the dial up on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning conversation.
Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. 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,’ he said, ‘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. It’s too bad. But let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities. You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. Now then, I multiplied seventy-five years times fifty-two weeks and I came up with 3900. That is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.
“‘It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail and by that time I had lived through over 2800 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 a thousand marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my radio gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.
“‘I found that by watching the marbles diminish, it focused me more on the really important things in life. There’s 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 that 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 more 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.’
“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 some co-workers to finish a project. 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. And I need to stop and buy some marbles.’”