In life, there are people that make impacts. Sometimes, it can take years for someone to impact your life…to leave an impression. And in rare times, one conversation can make an impact.
In second grade, there was an teacher’s assistant named Mrs. Clark. I gravitated to her. She graded my art work…she would stare at my drawings and say:
“Daniel..that is an excellent drawing of a dog with a horn on it.”
“Mrs. Clark? That’s a unicorn with dog powers…it can wag it’s tail when it’s happy or angry…so if you come up to it…you will think ‘oh hey happy unicorn/dog, let me pet you…because you are happy’, but boom it was an angry tail wagging…and then your head falls off.”
“Oh, wow, you have a big imagination Daniel. Here is a nice sticker that says ‘excellent’.”
I lived for those stickers…and Mrs. Clark had all of them. Spelling homework? Happy face sticker. Math homework? Hippo with glasses sticker. Reading homework? Pink Zebra reading a book sticker.
It was a simple process…you do good…you get something. She made an impact in my life. I still remember her short stature and glasses….she smelled of old cigarettes. And at recess, she said she needed “to take her happy medicine.” She would disappear behind the building in a cloud of smoke.
28 years later, another person made an impact. And her characteristics were like Mrs. Clark. She was smaller in stature, but full of life. She wore glasses…but her infectious smile dominated her face. I only knew her for a year, but she quickly became another “mom” in my life.
She offered many nuggets of knowledge about life…and I saw how she influenced those around me. She always had the perfect joke or story for the situation. And behind that story about her life hid a small subtle message for you to absorb. And two days ago, I walked into work to find out terrible news.
The feeling was heavy….and unknown heaviness. I walked in and saw many faces I did not recognize.
“Whoa…I had to think about if I am at the right location…don’t recognize anyone here,” I quipped to a co-worker. She had no response and knew I had not heard the news. I walked towards the break room and ran into a face I did recognize.
“What’s going on here? Who are all these new people?”
“You didn’t hear? ____ passed away.”
And I went numb. It didn’t make sense….I just saw her a few days ago…full of life…smiling…laughing. I walked away in disbelief but I could feel eyes on me. I pictured seeing her when I came in.
“So…how was your father’s day? Awesome I bet…I saw that post on Facebook, the cheesecake looked yummy.”
But, that didn’t happen. I stopped and saw a co-worker from far away. He waved at me…and I lost it. Tears ran down my face. I tried to hide them but it was too late.
“Dan, I know this is tough…look, you don’t have to be here. You can go home…a lot of us have gone home already. It’s ok.”
But I refused…I had to stay. But, that didn’t last long. People came in asking about her….and the news that they heard. I watched them shed tears…cry. I had to go home. And I went.
She was Mrs. Clark all over again. She was good….and it sparked the goodness in other people. When she spoke encouraging words, it built confidence. When she shared stories of her life, it spread knowledge and laughter. My daughter loved her. Because why? She gave her stickers….happy stickers. Just like Mrs. Clark. She would hug my daughter and say:
“Well hello my little friend. What you got there? That is a nice drawing…you drew daddy’s workplace? Let’s take that picture and put it on our wall…so everyone could see it.” And my daughter would walk away proudly with brand new stickers in her hands.
We will miss you, honeybee.