We are Always Having an Impact – Tell Them What You Love About Them!

by Sheila on October 5, 2011

We have all most likely received these “inspiring” little emails that people forward. I rarely forward them. This one received today was very sweet – whether it is true or not.  So, I thought I’d post it here.

This is a bit of a sidebar to the story below; however, this actually reminds  me a bit of a story my cousin, Tommy, told me a few years ago at a family reunion.  It was early October, like now, and we were trying to have one last outdoor picinic and it was drizzling. My cousin Patty asked me if she HAD to eat in the rain! Tommy laughed. He asked me if I remembered the time when we were kids and camping out and in the middle of the night, our tent flooded to (I’m not kidding) about a foot of water! We had nowhere to go and just had to endure it. I remember it like it was yesterday! I said, “OMG, I totally remember!” I think I was about 7 or so…

Tommy had just recently gotten back from Iraq and desribed a time he was in a foxhole and it was flooded and miserable. To keep his head on, he told his mates about the camping story and how much WORSE it was there and they all should just stop complaining.  He said he talked about me specifically and how “vocal” I was about the plight we found ourselves in. He said he told them if my little cousin, Sheila, could take it, so can we! How funny!

It just goes to show that we are always having an impact. It was no surprise he remembered that awful tent flooding, but quite interesting that he remembered me specifically in it. There were about 8 of us in the tent.

My impact on him back then was what helped him and his buddies get through a trying night in the flooded ditch in a strange land. Even though it was likely he was totally making fun of me!

At the picnic we all went out into the drizzle to eat and Tommy brought the story up to his dad, my Uncle Pete, who also said, “Oh my, I most remember Sheila that night!” I didn’t want to ask what that meant exactly – let it just be funny and not “too” whinny!

I once reached out to a group of friends and colleagues asking them to tell me what they knew to be true about me. I called it my “Getting my Groove On” request in preparation for a big presentation I was doing. I was completely surprised and delighted and touched and moved by the responses I got and so I can believe this story below:

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. 

On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. ‘Really?’ she heard whispered. ‘I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!’ and, ‘I didn’t know others liked me so much,’ were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature..

The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. ‘Were you Mark’s math teacher?’ he asked. She nodded: ‘yes.’ Then he said: ‘Mark talked about you a lot.’

After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

‘We want to show you something,’ his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket ‘They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.’

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.

‘Thank you so much for doing that,’ Mark’s mother said. ‘As you can see, Mark treasured it.’

All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, ‘I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.’

Chuck’s wife said, ‘Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.’

‘I have mine too,’ Marilyn said. ‘It’s in my diary.’

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. ‘I carry this with me at all times,’ Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued:  ‘I think we all saved our lists.’

That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried.  She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

We often  forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be.

So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Just tell them.

What a great exercise, huh? Maybe we could try this in our own lives with family and friends. I like the writing part because it takes away the possible uncomfortableness that comes with actually saying these things.

Try it out and let me know what happens!

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