He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary'sSchool in Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, but had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness delightful. Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving- "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!" I didn't know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day. One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice-teacher's mistake. I looked at Mark and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!" It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking again. "I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I hadto act on it. I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened by drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room. As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it!! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark's desk, removed the tape, and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were,"Thank you for correcting me, Sister." At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite.Since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third. One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves - and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them 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 me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me,Sister. Have a good weekend." That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to anyone!" "I didn't know others liked me so much." No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I 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 again. That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questionsabout the trip- the weather, my experiences in general.There was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways glance and simply says, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually did before something important. "The Eklunds called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is." Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend." To this day I can still point to the exact spot onI-494 where Dad told me about Mark. I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark lookedso handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, Mark I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me. The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. "Mark talked about you a lot," He said. After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting for me. "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. I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I 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." Mark's classmates started to gather around us. 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 without batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our lists."That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.
A store owner was tacking a sign above his door that read 'Puppies for Sale.'
These signs had a weird way of attracting children. And sure enough, a
little boy appeared at the sign. "How much are you gonna sell those puppies
for?" he asked. The store owner replied "Anywhere from $30-$50."
The little boy reached into his pocket and pulled out some change. "I have
$2.37, can I have a look at them?"
The store owner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran
down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur.
One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy
singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, "What's wrong with that
The man explained that when the puppy was born, the vet had said that it had
no hip socket and would limp for the rest of its life.
The little boy got really excited and said, "That's the puppy I wanna buy!"
The man replied, "No, you don't wanna buy that little dog. If you really
want him, I'll give him to you." The little boy got quite upset.
He looked straight into the man's eyes, pointing his finger and said, "I
don't want you to give him to me. He is worth every bit as much as the other
dogs and I'll pay the full price. In fact, I'll give you $2.37 now and 50
cents every month until I have him paid for."
The man countered, "You really don't want to buy this puppy. He is never
gonna be able to run, jump and play like other puppies!"
To this the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a
badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up
at the man and said, "Well, I don't run so well myself, and the little puppy
will need someone who understands."
IN LIFE, IT DOESN'T MATTER WHO YOU ARE, BUT WHETHER SOMEONE
APPRECIATES YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE, ACCEPTS YOU AND LOVES YOU UNCONDITIONALLY.
A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks away.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One
allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain
fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The
man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for
end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs,
involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up,
pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could
outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those
one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by
activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a
lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children
model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every
the rainbow. Grand old trees
graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be
the distance. As the man by the window described all this in
detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes
imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the
described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear
band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the
portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed. One
the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the
lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in
She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be
the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making
was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped
up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside.
would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly
look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man
the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had
such wonderful things outside this window.
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the
She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
Epilogue. . .
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buy. "Today is a gift, that's why it is called the present."