often tend to forget the importance of showing our love and affections.
Sometimes the smallest of things could mean the most to another person. This
article encourages us to compliment the people we love and care about and be
open with communication. We often forget that life will end one day and we don't
know when that day will be. It is important to tell the people we love and care
for, that they are special and important to us. Letís tell them, before it is
The story that follows is an inspirational tale (from All the Good Things)
of the teacher who made a difference in the lives of her students. Her name is
Sister Helen Mrosla a Franciscan nun. It is about how a dedicated educator (and
religion) can make a positive, lasting difference in oneís life; the world
would be a better place if we found it in our hearts to reach out to each other.
was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris,
Minnesota. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a
million. [He was] 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 him 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 had to act on it.
I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk,
very deliberately opened my 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 instructions in
the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in
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 ó 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 to 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 the
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
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 questions about the trip ó the weather, my experiences in
general. There was a light lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways
glance and simply said, "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 on I-494 where Dad
told me about Mark.
I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so
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 had acted as pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's math
teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I stared 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 this 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.
Helen Mrosla, a Franciscan nun, submitted "All the Good Things" to Proteus,
A Journal of Ideas in 1991. Her article also appeared in Reader's Digest
that same year, was reprinted in the original Chicken Soup for the Soul
book in 1993, and was offered yet again in 1996's Stories for the Heart.
By Tim Pedrosa
only takes a moment to reach out to be a friend, but to the one who
needs you, the memory never ends.- Tom
Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for
awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the