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Five Important Lessons

"Throughout your lifetime, many people will walk in and out of your life--- but only a friend will leave footprints in your heart".

"Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like you do when nobody's watching"

I've mentioned that I've been sorting through years of accumulated "stuff" in my crawl space, as my record collection slowly resurfaces to face the music again! Yesterday, I came across this e-mail from a former student of mine, who sent it to me at the end of a term, thanking me for the help I had given her in getting through. I thought it was worth sharing. Hope you like it!

Five lessons to make you think about the way we treat people:

Lesson # 1:

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

"What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count towards our quiz grade.

"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello' ".

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

Lesson #2:

One night at 11:30 P.M. an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 60's. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance, and put her in a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant color console TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached...

It read:
Thank you for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away...God bless you for helping me and unselfishingly serving others.

Mrs. Nat King Cole

Lesson #3:

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.
"How much is an ice cream sundae? he asked.
"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled his hands out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.
"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.
By now, more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.
"Thirty-five cents" she brusquely replied.
The little boy again counted his coins.
"I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.
The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the waitress the 35 cents and left. When the waitress came back to clear the table she began to cry as she wiped it down. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish were two nickels and five pennies, a tip instead of a sundae.

Lesson #4:

In ancient times a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the King's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition. (I always think of my hero, Terry Fox, when I read stories like this - R.)

Lesson #5:

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be from a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother and asked him if he would be willing to give blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying "Yes I'll do it if it will save her". As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?"

Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was giving his sister all his blood in order to save her.


I've often been accused of being a packrat. When I come across things like this, I feel ok about it. The note from my student ended with a "Thanks for all your extra help during the term", and the statement:

NOW more than ever - Peace....Pass It On....Play It Forward.

......and so that's what I'm doing, at her request. I hope you do too.

The peace link will take you to a lesson plan for grades 3-5 to develop peace poems and Picasso doves, through literature, art, technology and poetry.

These are some beautiful stories Rick! Thanks for sharing them.

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  • I'm Evydense
  • From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • And I'm tired of living in the shadow of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. So here's the fax, Jack! "The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred and sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." - Lynne Lavner*** I'm confused; curious; satisfied; realistically resigned to being a frustrated idealist; usually at peace with myself, but not always. Amazed at how little I know, and wondering how much I need to understand.
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