Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Too busy for a friend?

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 Viet Nam 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. The density of people in society is so thick that we 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. Tell them, before it is too late.

I love you all!!!

11 comments, add yours here:

katherine. said...

I've read this story...I love it.

Teachers are special souls.

The Rocking Pony said...

What a wonderful story. As parents maybe we should try this at home. :)

Mags said...

This is actually one of my favorite things to do for people. I did this for my ex-husband, my sister and for my staff. It is wonderful to read about the things that people think and feel about you.

Sanni said...

Love this story - it brings tears to my eyes whenever I read it.

Love ya, sweets ;)

For the Love... said...

Wonderful!

Sandra Ferguson said...

This is a great story.

I substitute teach at an elementary school, one in particular and spend a lot of time on the 3rd and 4th grade hallway. The kids become more like extended family than just the children I sub-teach. And they always seem so fragile at that age. They want to fit in, but aren't really sure how. This story reminds us of a lovely way to tell those around us one special thing about them, that one thing that makes them unique to us.

I'll remember this and maybe use it in a class this year.

Thanks for sharing. I love the title of your blog BTW, being a crazy Texas mom myself.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

well i never heard it and it made me cry. thanks honey. wonderful post!

smiles, bee

Shaz said...

Makes me shiver every time I read this. Makes you think too, thanks for sharing x x x

Linda said...

This is such a good story and so true. Thanks for sharing it and for being the special person that you are!

Comedy + said...

Wonderful reminder...I love you too Tisha. :)

Travis said...

That's a special message.