And the Greatest of these is Love

The greatest of these is love

Over the last year, I have entered several writing contests. I have never won a contest or even had an honorable mention. That’s okay because I enter the competitions to sharpen my writing and creativity skills.

The writing contests are a bit demanding. After I enter the contest, on a Saturday afternoon, at about 1 p.m., I receive an email from the writing contest holder.

I am given specific parameters to follow for the contest. I have 24 hours to complete the story. The story can only be a certain amount of words, never more than 2000. And, I am given a short paragraph, usually three sentences long, that I need to include in the story. The segment I receive does not have to be included in the story verbatim, but the premise must exist in the short story.

To some, this may seem simple, but it’s not. The contestants also receive a long list of dos and don’ts.  Many scenarios that have been used multiple times that the contest holder tells the contestants not to include in their story still are used quite often.

To be honest, I always try and do my best and rewrite my story and go over grammar multiple times. Perhaps, someday I’ll rate at least an honorable mention. For now, I continue to write my stories, devotions, Bible studies, and children’s message because I believe that I am Spirit led to do so.

The story below is not a religious or Christian one. It’s about a family. It’s about my family. Parts of it are genuine; parts of it are fiction, and parts of it are a  combination of events.

Most of all, it is about caring, family, and love.


Drive-In movie memories

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, my parents would take my brother and me to the drive-in movie theater twice a month. I can’t recall what movies we saw. Still, I do remember our car entering the outdoor theater and listening to the wheels on the vehicle grinding over the rocks throughout the lot. Up and down the rows of parking spots, we’d drive as we searched for the perfect place to watch the movie.

My dad would pull into a parking spot. He always made sure the metal pole, with the detachable metal-speaker, was just outside his window. After dad stopped the car and turned off the engine, he’d partially roll down his window, grab the silver-colored metal speaker and hang it on his window.

My brother Sam and I were already asking for popcorn and soda. Still, my parents would make us wait till after the movie previews and cartoons were over before they’d purchase any snacks.

Even on warm evenings, we’d have all the car windows open. This was a time when air-conditioning in your automobile was an expensive luxury, not a standard feature.

The music and sound from that silver-colored speaker were what my mom used to refer to as sounding like “someone talking into a tin can.” But for my brother and me, this was an adventure, a time with family, and we got to watch cartoons in color on a big screen.

My dad would seem to enjoy our trips to the drive-in, but he was always tired, as he worked construction during the week, and sometimes on Saturday. Usually about half-way through the movie, he’d fall asleep, breathing heavily. Sometimes my mom would wake him up and say, “John, you’re missing the movie.” Other times she would just let him sleep until the movie ended.

One evening, during the movie, my dad had fallen asleep not long after the film began. My mom decided to go to the snack bar to get some popcorn, soda, and my still all-time favorite Milk Duds. My brother and I received the usual parenting talk, “Be good while I’m gone, done get out of the car, and don’t wake your father.”

My mom got out of the car. As she walked away, I could hear her feet crunching on the drive-in parking lot rocks. My dad was quietly snoring fast asleep, and my brother and I were focused on the movie.

Even in my childhood, I was a bit of a worrier. Mom was gone perhaps ten minutes or so when I began to wonder what was taking her so long and if she was okay.

Just about that time, there was a loud crackling noise outside, like a clap of thunder. That sound was loud enough to wake my dad and scary enough for my brother and me to let out a frightened scream. In an instant, the movie screen went dark, and all the lights in the outdoor theater turned off.

My dad turned around and looked at my brother and me and said, “Are you okay, where’s your mom?” I told him she had gone to the snack bar about fifteen minutes earlier. Dad said, “Don’t move; stay here.”, and he jumped out of the car running towards the snack bar in the dark.

By this time, many of the cars had turned on their headlights. Many of the occupants of the vehicles were also honking their horns. All of this was quite scary for me, a 10-year-old, and my brother, who was only four.

Just as quickly as the lights and screen had turned off, they came back on to the delight of the theaters’ patrons. People flashed their car lights on and off and honked their horns as a way of saying, “Yay!”. The movie screen was lit up once again, with a message that read, “Sorry, for the inconvenience, the movie will resume shortly.”

Sam and I felt a lot safer with the lights back on, but we were still scared. Where was my mom? Did my dad find her? Are they okay? What happens if they didn’t come back? These were the thoughts that ran throughout our minds as our eyes filled with tears.

Then, I heard the sound again. The crunching rocks beneath the feet of someone walking. I looked out the window, and there were my mom and dad walking toward the car. My dad was holding a tray with sodas, popcorn, and snacks. Mom was walking beside him. As she spotted us looking at her and dad through the window, she said, “We’re okay, we’re back, are you guys okay?’

We were okay because our family was okay. After my parents got back in the car, they reassured us once again, everything was fine. As we nestled back in our seats, they handed us our sodas and popcorn as the movie came back on. I was feeling pretty good. My family was safe, we were watching a movie together, and I was chewing on my favorite chocolate caramel snack, Milk Duds.

Joe Guagliardo (Joe G)

1 Corinthians 13:1-7;13

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

‘Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

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