One day, a Teacher instructed her students to pen down the names of their classmates on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she said, “Think of the nicest things you can say about each of your classmates and write it down.” The students happily complied and by the end of the class, every single one submitted their ‘assignment’.
That night, the Teacher wrote down each student’s name on a separate sheet of paper and listed down the good things that were said about that individual.
The next day, she handed each student their list, which she had painstakingly compiled. Before long, the entire class was smiling. “Really?” someone uttered. “I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!” and, “I didn’t know others liked me so much,” were most of the comments.
No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. The Teacher never found out 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. That group of students moved on.
Several years later, one of the students, Mark, was killed in Vietnam and his Teacher attended the funeral. Mark was a soldier and was placed in a military coffin. The church was packed with his friends and each one of them took his/her last walk by the coffin. The Teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.
As she stood there, one of the soldiers came up to her. “Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked. She nodded: “Yes.” Then he said: “Mark talked about you a lot.”
After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates gathered for lunch with the Teacher. Mark’s mother and father were also there, wanting to speak with her.
“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. The Teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she 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.”
All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. 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, showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said. Without batting an eyelash, she continued, “I think we all saved our lists.”
Tears started welling up in the Teacher’s eyes.
A story to remind us the importance of conveying our affections and compliments. Sometimes the smallest of things could be of great significance to another.