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A Piranha Connection; A Spartan Shield; Roses for Ruthie; Chaucer and a Foule Holiday; Mission Accomplished

Long-time readers of this blog may remember the incident in 2012 which “spawned” the blog banner photo at top right of Your Faithful Correspondent staring down a piranha in a Rochester, NY, sushi bar. For background, it was the week of the debut of the Messages of Hope documentary in producer/director Chris Lavelle’s home town, and Suzanne had eight events in seven days, a heavy schedule even for my young bride. She woke up on the sixth day totally depleted and asked me to help her by raising her prana. I responded with a profound spiritual observation: “I thought prana was a man-eating fish from South America.” After debating whether to keep me for yet another trying week, she told me how to hold my hands above her head and channel healing energy. I was amazed when my hands got very warm and she felt invigorated. Then it was time to grab a quick bite of dinner before our next event. As we were driving into Rochester, Suzanne said “How about sushi? I’ll look up a candidate restaurant on our iPad.” A moment later she gasped and broke out laughing; the closest place was the Piranha Sushi Bar. We arrived, had a great meal, and chatted with the sushi chef, a very friendly Hispanic guy with a shaved head and tattooed skull. But what was really unusual was the Yogananda picture behind the bar. It turns out the owner was into the metaphysical. Suzanne presented copies of Messages of Hope to the owner and the chef. The chef was going to read the book to his kids, and the owner apologized that he didn’t have time to read any books, but would give it to someone who needed it.

Two days later, a woman with a terminally ill son came in for dinner, sat at the sushi bar instead of her usual table, and learned about Messages of Hope. Mary Ann would find both solace and inspiration in Suzanne’s story about her spiritual transformation after we lost our Susan. She ordered copies for everyone at her son Chris’s memorial service, and would later attend Suzanne’s conference in Crete and get a personal reading. On Thursday, Mary Ann and her sailing friend Ned joined us for dinner here in The Villages. It was like Old Home Week when we laughed about travel and restaurant experiences in Greece, and Ned and I chatted about his home town of Newport, Rhode Island, where he is a retired fire chief, and where I had been stationed for Navy schools on five separate occasions as well as a shipboard assignment.

But what made the occasion particularly poignant was that in a reading earlier in the day for someone in South Carolina who had lost his son, a reference from the other side to “a round shield, like a Spartan warrior would carry” came up. Suzanne’s client was baffled. While Ned and I and Mary Ann and Suzanne were chatting on the couch a couple of hours later, Suzanne quite unexpectedly sensed the presence of Mary Ann’s son Chris.  Suzanne saw him pointing at his tattoos. Mary Ann replied, “Yes, he had a big tattoo on his shoulder – a Spartan shield.” Evidently Chris had piggy-backed on someone else’s reading, knowing that his mom would be talking to Suzanne that very day. Other evidence from Chris followed, and Mary Ann’s visit became even more meaningful than any of us had expected.

Of course, we all know that it’s St. Valentine’s Day. I decided to follow my mother’s advice to her then teen-aged son: “Ty, it’s just as important to keep your girlfriend’s mother happy as it is your girlfriend herself.” It was good advice then, and even better today. So since Suzanne’s Lovely Mom Ruthie lives only three miles away, I thought I’d be chivalrous and get both wifey and Mother-in-Law roses for this special occasion. Since Ruthie was out card-sharking all day, we caught her at home in the evening. I think she was surprised and happy; I also know my supply of cakes, pies and pork & sauerkraut is good for another year!

Okay, this question is designed primarily for English teachers and literary trivia buffs: what does Chaucer have to do with today’s holiday? (If you are a UCLA English major, you might have no earthly idea, since Chaucer has been removed as a required topic for English majors in this new age of political correctness gone amuck, replaced by courses obsessed with victimhood. But I digress…) The answer is that Chaucer may have unknowingly “invented” St. Valentine’s Day. There is no apparent historical record of the holiday prior to Chaucer’s poem “Parliament of Foules”, published around 1375. His poem refers to February 14th (Seynt Valentyne’s Day) as a day when birds (and humans) come together to find mates.  It is believed that the original St. Valentine was a priest beheaded by Roman Emperor Claudius II in a temple outside Rome for helping then proscribed Christian couples marry.

Finally, Suzanne received the following notes from her good friend and retired US Army Colonel Charles Cunis in Colorado.  She had sent him a draft of the chapter in her new book that features him.  He replied, “Am serving as ‘Trailing Spouse’ supporting picking out window treatments for new home. Priority of fires to this mission. Will download your messages upon arrival home station.” Later, he updated Suzanne with: “As I reported from the confines of the Pottery Barn, full support as the ‘Trailing Spouse’ has paid off with a successful mission. Served as an alleged ‘consultant’ when a selection was made. Stayed seated in a chair and arose only when called upon by my Dear Elaine. Things work better that way.” Yes, Charles, many of us former military husbands understand your difficult assignment; Well Done, and excellent reporting!

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