The Wishing Well

The Wishing Well

by Mark Faris


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When Mark Faris first met Cate Greenway, he knew she was an angel. As a teenager hanging out with the neighborhood kids in 1970s Kansas City, Faris often went with his friends to Cate's house and enjoyed picnics next to the wishing well in her field. They found safety and love there, and Cate became a guiding light for them.

Even after Faris moved to Minneapolis and started a new life, he never forgot Cate. But it was years later in 2009 that Cate became an even more important influence on his life. After decades of selfishness, combined with his wobbly faith, Faris was convicted of money laundering, mail fraud, and wire fraud. He was incarcerated in a federal prison and separated from his family and friends. It was in prison that Cate appeared to him in angelic form, pushing Faris to make faith, love, and service for God the highest priorities in his life.

Chronicling the drowsy summer days under Cate's sprawling oak trees, his venture into the business world, and his renewal of faith in God, The Wishing Well is an honest look at Faris's life and how one special angel transformed it forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781458201188
Publisher: Abbott Press
Publication date: 12/22/2011
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Wishing Well

By Mark Faris

Abbott Press

Copyright © 2011 Mark Faris
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4582-0118-8

Chapter One

I'm a simple guy who came from a good middle class family that stressed values, politeness, and courtesy to others. My dad grew up in Chicago, was a practicing Methodist, attended college at the University of Illinois for three years, enrolled in the Navy in 1950, and later completed two years of studies at Boston University completing his degree. While in the Navy he was stationed at the submarine base in New London, Connecticut. During this time, he worked at the base radio station and decided to be a professional sportscaster.

My mother was born in New York City and spent her first seven years living in Barranquilla, Columbia before moving back to the Borough of Queens. The product of immigrant parents, her father was 100% Italian and her mother 100% Venezuelan, she was raised to be a Roman Catholic. Spanish was the main language spoken, followed by English, and my grandfather added some colorful Italian to the mix.

Mom did not take a conventional route as a teenager and young adult. She graduated from high school at the ridiculous age of sixteen in 1944 and was deemed to be too smart. She then studied accounting and finance for two years at Queens College, drawing the attention of an international exporting company in Manhattan who hired her at eighteen years of age. While many of her friends were getting married out of high school or in their early twenties, mom was forging a business career in the world of numbers right along with the men.

How mom exactly met dad was not totally clear to me until only a few months ago. As she approaches her eighty fourth year on this planet, she remembers the meeting quite clearly. I may as well admit what might appear all too obvious to any interested party or reader. I am embarrassed about my own incorrect assumptions and not knowing the real facts.

Dad enjoyed visiting the Big Apple on weekends from Connecticut. He travelled alone and sometimes came with friends hitchhiking or taking the train. Once a month on a Saturday, mom worked at a mid- Manhattan Catholic canteen serving meals and refreshments. One Saturday during the summer of 1952, dad walked up to the serving table and asked for freshly squeezed orange juice. Mom recalls just laughing at him, but dad was persistent.

She served him regular orange juice and they started talking. There was a dance two fl oors up and dad invited mom to join him. Then, he asked her out for a drink. After consulting with her two girlfriends, mom took a small leap of faith and enjoyed dad's company. He asked for her phone number and proceeded to call her one week later from the Navy base.

A courting dance had begun, and my dad to his credit honed in on the grand prize. This process took almost two years to play out as my mom and her proud Italian father slowly relented to dad's overtures. Even after dad finally said the inevitable words of "I love you," mom directed him to ask her father for his blessings regarding marriage. That's how matters of the heart were handled back then.

Mom and dad were married July 1955 in Queens, New York. In January of 1957, my dad moved to Waterloo, Iowa to join a small radio and television station handling their sports department. This lasted about six months until he landed a better position in Lexington, Kentucky for a larger radio and television station. He drove back to New York City to rejoin mom prior to me being born in July 1957. Leading up to this joyous event, mom had continued her outstanding work for the export company and received several promotions.

After I was born in Queens, New York we drove to Lexington so dad could begin his new job. He did a great job and was highly thought of. This assignment lasted one year. In the fall of 1958, dad continued his rapid climb in the broadcasting profession beginning with a significant job opportunity in Birmingham, Alabama as a sports anchor for a larger television station. He covered all sports including broadcasting minor league baseball.

Thus began a series of moves to New York City, New Orleans, and Kansas City that spanned seven years. During this time, the Faris Family expanded with the addition of two more boys in 1960 and 1962. I am proud to note that in addition to mom running our household, she also managed to work part-time in finance positions helping business owners with their bookkeeping. Her dual roles made her by definition a true anomaly, and there simply were not many women doing this in the 1960's.

Once our family moved to Kansas City in 1966, my father had reached the pinnacle of sports broadcasting taking over as an announcer for professional baseball and football. He was well known in the community and well respected in his profession. Despite his heavy travel schedule, our family was tight-knit. Mom ran the household like a Swiss watch. My dad and mom attended many of my sporting events that included baseball, golf, football, and hockey.

We lived in a nice suburban neighborhood that was rapidly expanding to the southwest of the downtown area on the Kansas side. My brothers and I fit into the school system quickly and there were always decent neighborhood kids to play with. My parents also made friends quickly and we were a happy family.

In fact, I could not have asked for more supportive parents or a better childhood. They emphasized taking school seriously and doing my homework. My dad was talking to me about colleges as early as eleven years of age. One of his favorite sayings was, "Make something happen today." He was not a fan of the Vietnam War and didn't want me throwing hand grenades in some Cambodian rice patty field. He wanted me to be successful and continuously stressed outworking others to make that happen.

My family always emphasized the importance of consideration, courtesy, and respect. At an early age I had a deep-seated respect for the phrase "Yes Sir" and "Yes Ma'am." We wrote thank you notes to friends, relatives, and acquaintances. We were taught to tell the truth and admit our mistakes. Honesty, accountability, and responsibility were major themes in our family. When I answered the phone, it was "Faris residence, this is Mark speaking." Anything less than that quickly put me in hot water, particularly with my dad.

Regarding our religious persuasions, it was mom who took us to church and did her best to bring three boys up as practicing Catholics. Attending church was a high priority in our household. I received my First Communion and Confirmation followed by both of my brothers, Chris and Andy. We were expected to keep our rooms tidy or forfeit our allowances for a week. I started mowing the yard when I was about twelve years old and also pulled weeds that accounted for a portion of my allowance.

One of the great benefits of having a dad as a well-known sports broadcaster was the constant introductions to major league sports figures. In the 1960's and 1970's professional athletes were classy and spent more time making themselves accessible to fans. I can't recall how many Hall of Fame athletes I met or who were at our house, but the highlight had to be meeting Mickey Mantle in 1968 prior to his retirement.

I came home from school in May and mom asked how school was. I provided the standard kid's answer of "Fine." She then told me to go say hi to dad and a friend of his. I entered the living room and initially saw the back of a muscular and wide shouldered man. When he turned around, my dad introduced Mickey Mantle to me. I remember turning a bit numb, my jaw felt like it unhinged, and my eyes were really big. "Nice to meet you Mr. Mantle" I said. He replied, "It's my pleasure Mark, and you can call me Mickey." We talked for thirty minutes about school, my interests, and what sports I was playing. It was unforgettable and I was blown away by his sincerity and interest in me.

We lived in Kansas City for six wonderful years and I made all sorts of friends. My favorite friends were Maureen, David, and Cindy and we called ourselves "The Gang." There was one adult outside of my mom and dad who would unknowingly become the most influential person in my life. Her name was Cate Greenway. Cate became our friends and had a magnificent wishing well located in her field under a sprawling oak tree. My fascination with wishing wells began with Cate.

How certain people come into our lives and why is not a question I have ever been able to answer with any clarity at all. Cate befriended The Gang and was a spiritual and guiding light for us. There was something about her personality, being, and her presence that simply stood out from the very beginning when we first met in the summer of 1971, and has stayed with me to this very day. I count my lucky stars to have met Cate, knowing full well that her presence has been very powerful through my ups and downs spanning over forty years.

My parents did a great job of teaching, developing, assisting, and launching me in the proper direction so I could experience a productive and meaningful life. Both mom and dad encouraged me to follow my instincts and pursue my dreams. I was blessed to grow up with loving parents who provided me with so many opportunities. They prepared me to be successful and I wanted to experience that as my chosen career in sales commenced as a young adult. I did not wish to disappoint them.

One of my favorite interests was reading the newspaper and various business magazines. I soaked up as much information as possible. Besides the sports section, I regularly read the local news and business sections. As the U.S. economy rapidly expanded in the 1980's, it seemed like business people were regularly getting into trouble and breaking the law. This led to them being sent away to prison, and I always shook my head in amazement asking myself and others just how stupid can a person be judgment wise?

Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be one of those business people who crossed the line, broke laws, and ended up in a federal prison. This wasn't part of my life plan. I thought I was able to discern between right and wrong, recognize this distinction, and utilize common sense. My lack of Christian faith and spirituality allowed my greed, entitlement, and arrogance to take over. Me became most important. Somehow, I managed to accomplish the unthinkable and be rewarded with a prison number 13348-041.

Chapter Two

Thus, the story begins. I close my eyes gently to the point where my eyelids are covering the tops of my eyeballs. Some drowsiness sets in as I begin drifting back in time. I start to spin quickly and fl y sideways like some propeller in a large gray circulating cloud. Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down-as the ground is rapidly coming into view. Hold on! Hold on! Bam! I cannot move and the wind is knocked out of me. It is hard to breathe, and crap did that hurt.

I have landed in an undeveloped area of grasses, weeds, and rocks directly across the street from my house. It is 1971 and I am fourteen years old. Look, there is my mother in our front yard on a long lawn that stretches and curves with the street. She cannot see me as I enthusiastically wave at her.

Directly behind the area is a long and winding stream called Rushing Waters. My friends and I really liked to play and explore along the creek. We were a self-named group called The Gang-comprised of Maureen, Cindy, David, and me. Having known each other for a few years and attended the same elementary school, we were friends and playmates.

Often, we would skip rocks along the shallow water, and just mess around like most kids. A game of hide-and-seek usually followed. David and I usually lost as we rarely could find the girls. They were quite clever and quiet, and seemed like ghosts to us. When it was our turn to hide, we utilized every trick in the book including moving leaves to cover up our footprints or other indentations on the ground. It hardly mattered because our steady giggling generally revealed our location.

One time in the middle of the summer of 1971, we covered ourselves up in leaves and lay down on our backs. David and I believed we finally had lost the girls, and it was the only time that we managed to control our excitement and not laugh. We actually believed that Maureen and Cindy would not find us this time. Our beliefs were misguided in many ways, and we were discovered despite doing everything to control our breathing and movements. Cindy found me first and said, "Got you got you, we found you boys. Now that we found you, you are our toys."

Maureen was no slouch either in the discovery department. That girl could see for what seemed like miles, and with her black shining hair she sort of looked like an Indian princess, like Pocahontas to me. She might as well have been one with the wind as far as we were all concerned. Maureen wore braces and David needled her about that, claiming that sunlight reflected off of them. It is true that my friend had some distorted views, one being that this somehow allowed Maureen to redirect light to expose unseen objects.

His theory was crazy, and I attempted to remind him on several occasions that I too was a recipient of steel covering up my teeth. Not once did he mention any special powers I possessed. I think in a crazy way he had a small crush on Maureen and who could find fault with him? Without saying as much, I think David and I realized one very important fact. What if my braces and Maureen's became interlocked with one another and we couldn't be pulled apart? This was a potential scenario and disaster that needed to be averted at all costs. Besides, Cindy and I liked each other. The Gang liked each other.

Cindy had long auburn hair with just the right combination of red and brown color. She was a pretty girl and a natural detective. "How did you find us?" I asked with a look of disbelief on my face. Cindy looked at me with a deadly smile and said, "Your white shoestring silly." I remember thinking how ridiculous that was. She said that my very long white shoestring could be seen above the leaves, and my left shoe was untied. Frustrated, I swept the leaves off of my body, quickly stood up, and looked down at my shoes. Detective Cindy was right. My left shoe was untied, and both shoes were full of dirt and grime.

Now David thought that I really liked Cindy. He always needled me about it too. There wasn't any question that this was true, and I did convey to him that there might be feelings exceeding what I was willing to admit. At the same time David had a crush on Maureen and his face showed every bit of it. He never denied his feelings. When the girls won at hide-and-seek the worst part for David and I was hearing that awful chant for the rest of our play day: "Got you, got you we found you boys. Now that we found you, you are our toys." This made our tummies gurgle, but rules were rules when playing with friends. Cindy and Maureen remembered all of the rules that were agreed upon in advance. No matter how hard David and I tried to maneuver around them, we were called out all the time.

We knew for some time that the creek was really long and winding. Having never explored much of it before, the Gang decided to take off and see where it went. The girls let David and I take the lead, as we knew they were afraid of critters and snakes.

Mom always worried about me walking along the creek, walking in it, or walking in the surrounding grass fields of our still largely developing town. Beyond our house and the creek were vast stretches of farmland. Once mom knew who I was playing with and where we planned to go, she insisted that I find a two or three foot branch to poke and prod around with. After all, in these parts, there were rattlers, copperheads, water moccasins, and various critters lurking about. This was Kansas people, and these kinds of devilish critters liked to play their version of hide-and-seek.

We walked along the winding and curving creek for a bit skipping rocks and whistling tunes. One of my favorite tunes was "Dizzy" and it was hard to remove it from my head once the first words began. Here we go. One, two, three, four:

    Dizzy, I'm so dizzy my head is spinning
    Like a whirlpool it never ends
    And it's you girl making it spin
    You're making me dizzy.
    First time that I saw you girl, I knew that I just had to make
    you mine
    But it's so hard to talk to you with fellows hanging round
    you all the time
    I want you for my sweet pet, but you keep playing hard to get
    I'm going round in circles all the time.

When I looked at Cindy, I saw whirlpools of water rushing in and circling around. The truth was that she made my head spin, and I liked her more than I would admit to David or Maureen.


Excerpted from The Wishing Well by Mark Faris Copyright © 2011 by Mark Faris. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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