Opportunities for Gratitude

I was thinking the other day about some of my teachers, particularly those who have had a lasting impact on my life. Three immediately came to mind…one from sixth grade, and two from seventh.

It was in sixth grade when I began to dream about being a writer. It was also in sixth grade that my first poem was “published” in our school paper. I remember the last two lines, “The pigs stopped rolling in the mud, The day is over.” Quite profound, in my 11 year old mind.

One day our math test was copied, on the other side of a page from our school paper. (Must have been a paper shortage…). My poem was one of the poems on the back of the test paper. I was so thrilled! I kept a copy of it until about 10 years ago.  I am not really sure what happened to it. It is a nice memory, and helped ignite my dream of one day becoming an author.

My sixth grade teacher was kind, and encouraging. On the last day of school, he squirted us with a squirt gun as we went out the door, and he shook our hand.  It was time to move up to “Junior High,” as it was called back then. I was sad to see the year end. It had been a good year for me, especially being a transitional one.  I saw him years later (in another town), coming down the steps of the town hall. Coincidence?  I doubt it.  I went over and said “hello.” I wanted to share with him what a great teacher he was, and how much I enjoyed being in his class. He was appreciative of not only my taking the time to do so, but remembering him as well!  I was glad I had the chance to share with him how memorable sixth grade was for me – especially when I was not all that fond of school.

Transitioning from elementary school into Junior High, knowing I was not really ready to grow up, was a challenge for me. The adjustment was made easier through kindnesses shown by my teachers…in English and Science. They were caring, and attentive.

There were times when my friends and I would hang out in our science class after school, until it was time to go for the bus. Science was not exactly my favorite subject.  Our teacher encouraged us to do our best.  We would help clean the blackboards, chat for a few minutes, or ask questions about homework. I am pretty sure our teacher had better things to do…but he took the time to listen.

Funny, a few years after I got married, I wound up moving several towns away. I attended a play at the High School, and who was there? My seventh grade science teacher.  What are the odds?  Again, I was thankful to be able to express how much I appreciated him as a teacher.

My seventh grade English teacher was the same way. All teachers seem “old” when you are young, until you realize they were probably not all that old at the time. (This is especially true as you reach their age – and beyond).  I remember my English teacher could not have children. I don’t know how or why I remember that, but I do.  I wrote to her during the summer, and perhaps a while after that. I am not sure why I chose to write to her, but it meant a lot to me that she took the time to write back. I wish I had saved the letters.  I would probably appreciate her kindness more so now, than I was able to, as a child.  I would like to believe she knew how grateful I was, to have her as my teacher.

(Sadly, in today’s world, the innocence of the above has all but disappeared.  These experiences were certainly a help to me.  I will always appreciate the kindness and guidance shown by these teachers).

The point I am trying to bring forth, is the importance of letting people know how you feel about them, and what they mean to you…while you have the opportunity. There may not be the opportunity down-the-road.  “When you have the chance…” or “some day” – can be soon lost.  Good intentions serve little purpose, and have the tendency to plant seeds of regret. Whether it is through a phone call, note, or coincidentally bumping into someone – capture the moment…seek the opportunity.  Set any seeds labeled for regret free.

There must be someone in your life you would like the opportunity to thank?  Share what they mean to you?  Pass on a kindness?  Plant the seeds of gratitude…when opportunity knocks.  Pass it on.



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