Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Her Name Was Rose ... She Taught Me A Lot

On the first day of class our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone in the room we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my side. I turned around to find a wrinkled old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. 

She said, "Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?"

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, "Of course you may!" and she gave me a giant squeeze. 

"Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked.

She jokingly replied, "I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids..." 

"No seriously," I asked. "I am curious to know what motivated you to be taking on this challenge at your age."

"Well I always dreamed of having a college education and now I am going to get one!" she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months she and I would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this 'time machine' share her wisdom and experiences with me.

Over the course of that semester, Rose became a campus icon as she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students when she was living it up.

At the end of the semester I invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget the powerful message she taught us. After she was introduced she stepped up to the podium and suddenly dropped all her neatly arranged three by five cards on the floor.

Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, "I'm sorry; I'm just jittery - I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never be able to get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I think you should know."
As we all laughed she cleared her throat and began -

"We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.
There are only two secrets to staying young, being happy and achieving success.
1) You have to laugh and find humor every day.
2) You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. There are so many people walking around this world who are dead and don't even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. For example, if you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I, at eighty-seven years old,  stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight.

Anybody can grow older - that doesn't take talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding new opportunities in the changes that confront us and to have no regrets.

Most elderly people I know don't have regrets for the things they did; they only have regrets for things they did not do. The only people who fear death are those who have regrets.' 

She then concluded her speech by courageously singing "The Rose." 

She challenged each of us in that banquet hall to study the lyrics of that song and live them out in our daily lives. At the year's end Rose finished all her requirements for a college degree and
graduated with her class. She finally received her college diploma. 

Unfortunately, one week after graduation, Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students, faculty members and friends attended her funeral to pay tribute to a wonderful woman who taught by example and showed us it's never too late to be all you can possibly be. 

I learned three powerful things from Rose:

1) Growing older is mandatory - growing up is optional.

2) We make our living by what we get - we make our life by what we give.

3)The only thing God promises us is a safe landing; he never promised a calm voyage. 

Please share with your friends.  Gabe

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

You Could Have Heard A Pin Drop

Robert Whiting, an elderly American gentleman 83 years old and a retired High School History teacher arrived in Paris by plane with a tour group.  At French Customs, he took several minutes to locate his passport in one of his coat pockets.

"You have been to France before, monsieur?" a French customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.
"Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."

Mr. Whiting replied  "The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."

"Impossible,  French law requires all Americans to have to show their passports on arrival in France!" said the French customs official.

Mr Whiting gave the French Official a long hard look, then, quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore in 1944 it was at Omaha Beach on D-Day to help liberate your country.  At that time none of us could not find a single Frenchman to show a passport to."
You could have heard a pin drop.

What a few more "You Could Have Heard a Pin Drop Stories? 

These are all very good short stories that every American government official - Federal, State and Local - should know and remember.  The next time you are criticized for the way you voted - never, ever apologize.

Sit back relax and learn ...

Dean Rusk - President Kennedy's Secretary of State - was in France in the early 60's when President Charles DeGaulle made the decision to pull France out of NATO.  President {Former General} DeGaulle said to Mr. Rusk he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Mr. Rusk looked him straight in the eyes and responded,  "Does that include those who are buried here as well?"

DeGaulle never responded to Dean Rusk.

You could have heard a pin drop.

While in England, while attend a large conference, as the Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans {the American Plans} for Iraq were just another example of  'empire building' by George Bush.

Mr. Powell turned to the Arch Bishop and said,  "Over the years, the United States has sent many of  its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders.  The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return was enough to bury those that could not return."

You could have heard a pin drop.

A few years later at another European conference held in France a number of international engineers were in attendance. During one of the morning breaks, a French engineer came back into the room saying,  "Have you heard the latest dumb stunt the American's have done?  They are sending an aircraft carrier to Indonesia because of the tsunami.  What do they intend to do, bomb Indonesia?"

A Boeing Aircraft Corporation engineer spoke up and said:  "Every American aircraft carrier has three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people a day;  they are all nuclear powered and can supply unlimited emergency electrical power to facilities on shore; they each have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 4,000 people three meals a day, they can produce 72,000 thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters which can be used to transport the injured and any victims to and from their flight deck. 

We Sir, have eleven such ships;  how many does France have?"

You could have heard a pin drop.

A few years later a U.S. Navy Admiral attended a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S., England, Canada, Australia and France. During an evening cocktail reception, the American Admiral found himself standing with a large group of officers. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks.

A French Admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans are content to learn only English.  He then asked,  "Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than French?"

Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied, "Maybe it's because the Brit's, Canadians, Aussie's and Americans arranged it so you and your fellow countrymen wouldn't have to learn to speak German."

You could have heard a pin drop.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Day Mrs. Thompson Quit Teaching

With School soon to start across America - I thought I would re-print one of my stories - my personal favorite. Whether this story is true or not I really don't know - however if you found it of interest please share it with every teacher you know in your community.  Maybe they too can quit teaching just like Mrs. Thompson.  

Mrs. Thompson stood in front of her fifth grade class on the first day of school and told a lie, a big lie.  As she welcomed the students and she said she would treat them all the same.  But that was not true because there was one student she would not treat the same – his name was Teddy Stoddard.

The school district hired Ms. Thompson the year before and she couldn't help but notice Teddy last year.  He was a known problem child with a lousy academic record. He did not play well with others children; his clothes were always a mess; he looked like he needed a bath and he had a bad attitude. Consequently, Mrs. Thompson delighted in marking Teddy’s papers with a broad red pen and placing big bold 'X's on all his wrong answers.  She loved putting a large 'F' at the top of his papers so other students could see his grade when she handed them out.

School policy required that each teacher review the records of their students during the first week of December.  Mrs. Thompson held Teddy's file off until last.  When she finally sat down to review his file, she was taken aback.  Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child who does neat work and has excellent classroom manners. He is a joy to have in my class - I will miss him next year."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an above average student who is well liked by his classmates. He has been having trouble lately because of his mother’s illness, and life at home has really been a struggle for him." 

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's recent death has been very hard on Teddy.  He tries hard to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life is negatively affecting him."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a withdrawn child who does not show much interest in school. He has few friends, often comes to class unprepared, and is frequently disruptive."

Mrs. Thompson was now ashamed of her behavior. She felt even worse a few weeks later when her students brought in their Christmas presents for her.  All were wrapped in holiday paper and tied with ribbons except for one. Teddy's.  It was clumsily wrapped in brown paper from an old grocery bag with no ribbon. 

Mrs. Thompson opened Teddy’s present first.   Some children laughed when they saw a rhinestone bracelet with several stones missing and an old bottle of perfume only 1/4 full; but Mrs. Thompson quickly stifled their laughter by commenting on how beautiful the bracelet was as she put in on.  She then dabbed some perfume on each wrist, inhaled deeply and said it smells wonderful.

Before he left class that afternoon, Teddy walked up to Mrs. Thompson's desk, slowly leaned in and said, "I just want you to know you smell just like my Mom use to."  He then ran out of the room.  When all the other students left, Mrs. Thompson cried at her desk. This was the day she vowed to quit teaching

Never again would she teach reading, writing or arithmetic, instead she would start teaching children.
She began to pay attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind came alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the school year, Teddy was one of the brightest students in her class.  Despite "her lie to treat all students the same," it was obvious Teddy was her pet.  The following year, Teddy transferred to middle school and Mrs. Thompson never saw him again.

Towards the end of the next school year, Mrs. Thompson found a note under her door.  It was a note from Teddy telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Seven years passed before she received another note.  This time Teddy wrote he had just finished high school - third in his class - and that he would be going to college and that, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had in my whole life. 
Four more years went by when a letter from Teddy arrived explaining he had graduated from college and was planning on going to medical school in the fall and, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had.

Several years passed before another letter arrived.  In this letter, Teddy stated he met a woman and they would be getting married in June.  He explained that his father died a few years earlier and he was wondering if she, Mrs. Thompson, would agree to sit in the place of honor reserved for the groom's parents at the head table. This letter was signed Theodore J. Stoddard M.D.

Of course Mrs. Thomson agreed. She arrived at the plush wedding ceremony wearing an old rhinestone bracelet with several rhinestones missing and carried a scent of a perfume that Teddy once said reminded him of his mother.  Dr. Stoddard came forward and hugged her. As he inhaled the fragrance of her perfume, he whispered in her ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for making me feel important and thank you for making a difference in my life."

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back, "No Teddy you have it wrong.  I need to thank you. You taught me. You taught me I could make a difference."