I work with Altru’s Hospice. A person may come under hospice care only when a doctor confirms a terminal diagnosis of six months or less. So I am well-acquainted with dying, so much so that some people ask me how I handle it. I have moments when what I do “gets to me,” but generally I find the privilege and what I receive is greater than what I give.
But let me tell you about a death that is nagging at me. I remember her as Miss G (though she later married), who taught speech and drama at my high school. I talked to her a couple of times after graduating, but not for many years. I heard, just weeks ago, that she had died. She was in her sixties, which is too young but not quite tragic. She wasn’t family, or someone I regularly (or even occasionally) saw. So why does it bug me?
I know that one reason is the pleasant memories and feelings brought to my memory. There were speech tournaments and one act plays. She cast me as the principal in Up the Down Staircase and asked me to be the MC at the coronation of football royalty. Truth is I probably had one of those teen-age crushes on her.
From where I stand now I realize how important a part Miss G played in my life. She talked me into doing speech and drama and helped me to practice some of the gifts given to me by God. Gifts I use regularly, if differently, now. She helped crack the shell I lived within to give me confidence as a speaker, a student and as a person.
And I never got to tell her.
There. That’s it. I would like to say Thank-you, but I’ve missed the chance. If I had sent her a note or given her a call to say some of this, I think the memory would be almost wholly positive.
So, why am I writing this? Obviously I want everyone who reads these words to feel guilty about the people you haven’t thanked and your failures to appreciate others! Actually, that’s not why. No matter how many thank-you notes we send there will always be another Miss G which we might miss. Guilt is no good. I don’t want to emphasize the negative. Let’s go the other way.
Every time we seek out a Miss G and show a little appreciation we change our lives and the world. In a very real sense this showing of thanks is almost more for us than for those we thank. Doesn’t showing appreciation make you feel good? Doesn’t unexpectedly showing someone thanks make it feel almost like Christmas? I have a file of little thank-you notes I’ve received. I might forget what gifts I received at Christmas, but those little words on paper refresh my soul.
Today is a day of opportunity for me and for you. There are people close to us and some who now live far away who deserve a little thank-you. We will never get to all of them. But what fun, and what positive energy, comes when we show appreciation to just one.
Oh, I just checked and another favorite teacher and coach, Mr. T, is still living and I have his address. Now, where are those thank-you notes … ?