The following is a piece I wrote that was printed in the Racine Journal Times Sunday August 20, 2006 in the special Connected section that will run 2 Sundays (20th and 27th). This is a take off of an earlier blog ‘To the People in My Life – Thank You’. That blog has a larger and more detailed listing of those I wish to thank and even includes pictures.
As the moments in our lives sift through time faster than water through a strainer, we merge in and out of the lives of others. We are usually unaware of the impact we not only have on them but on those that follow us. A gentle expression of compassion that may seem mundane could change the life of a stranger. A careless word of anger could also have lasting effects. Like bumper cars we are in this cage of life bumping into one another, sometimes caught in jam for a while, sometimes never even grazing the one whizzing past you time and time again. And through the duration of the ride, we are never truly alone and never truly untouched.
In my life I have experienced great kindnesses, lessons, and experience; all from those who may not even realize their profound effects. Some have passed on, some have moved away, others have simply vanished from my radar. But they will never be forgotten and they will always not only be a part of who I am today, but a part of my children and children’s children, as we pass along parts of ourselves for generations to come.
Rarely do we give ourselves the opportunity to give thanks and express appreciation to those who have helped us grow. That is why I am writing this now. Life is short and my neurotic nature wants to leave no stone unturned, no words unsaid, and no acts go unnoticed. But with limited time, space, and ink it would be a practical impossibility to thank everyone who has graced my life.
Of course there is my family. From my husband’s loyalty to my daughter’s kisses, from my mother’s honesty and friendship to my father’s humor and childlike charm there is more to appreciate than can ever be expressed. To my daughter who showed me that true unconditional love does exist and to my husband who demonstrates daily that men can indeed embody great integrity, thank you. To my grandma Rose who helped refine my grasp of the importance of manners and my grandma Betty who taught me there was no reward in self pity, thank you. To my step daughter who enlightened me that love doesn’t need to come from blood and my brother who cried and asked me not to leave when I started packing my Barbie back pack to run away at age 8, thank you.
Even the experiences one would consider negative need to be appreciated for what they teach us. My father’s death at the age of 46 taught me how precious life is and how to live the best we can while we are here. The loss of my first true love at the age of 23 taught me not to hold on so tightly, that people are not processions. A friend who had a serious motorcycle accident taught me to care again, just when I thought my compassion was gone, just when I thought I had nothing to care about – I cared about him.
Many friends have flowed in and out of my life bringing so much joy, compassion, support, and love. Kevin with his angelic-like kindness and immeasurable heart, Paige with authenticity I so admired, Kim with her open mind and sharp wit, Erin with her loving honesty and contagious laugh and Tony’s hilarious sarcasm; so many to thank, to love.
People who have inspired me and have shown me I am capable, worth while, and meaningful. My high school Journalism teacher who gave me the opportunity to write because she saw something in me, my statistics teacher who wrote a quote of mine from the school paper on the blackboard – the only time I have ever been quoted, a friend who taught me that paddling upstream is not only more difficult, but unnecessary and that the only way to fight the fear of death is to live well, thank you.
And then there are the people who rarely get the thanks they deserve. Thank you to all the cashiers, servers, customer service employees, and anyone else who works with the public and are consistently polite, considerate and helpful. Thank you to all the pleasant, warm people who smile ans talk to my daughter while she passes by in the cart through the grocery store. Thank you to the people who hold the door open when my arms are full and for those who show appreciation when I do the same. Thank you to all the kind compassionate people who make this world a better place, who restore my faith in mankind, and who make me proud to call myself human.
Life is truly over in a blink. If you don’t realize that now, all you need to do is watch a child grow before your eyes. We have only moments to share our love and appreciation for one another. We have mere winks to create a snapshot in time and make an impact. The slightest splash you make in someone’s life can send ripples through their exsistance.
To all those who have gotten their toes wet on the shores of my life, I say thank you. You are never forgotten.