Positive Inspirational Stories
Positive Featured Inspirational Story - December 28, 2006 to January 28, 2007
All the Good Things
'I never knew that meant anything to anyone!'
Mark Eklund was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark was one in a million, 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 in 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 Mark 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 a 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 instruction in the 'new math,' he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third.
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 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 their 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 weekend."
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 - the weather, my experiences in general. There was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways glance and simply says, '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 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 grave side. 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 acted as pallbearer came up to me. 'Were you Mark's math teacher?' he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare 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 recognise 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 his in our wedding album.'
'I have mine too,' Marilyn said. 'It's in my diary.' Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocket book, 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.'
Written by Sister Helen P. Mrosla
Writers Postscript - The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.
- Inspirational Stories
- Finding a Forever Home
- Grandma's Thimble
- When you thought I wasn't looking
- Left Behind
- Enjoy your nectarine
- The Old Phone . . . How do you spell fix?
- You make a difference
- Lessons from Geese
- The Richest Man in the Valley
- The Making of a Memory
- Why The Elephants Dont Run
- The Sandpiper . . . to bring you joy
- They don't walk in your shoes . . . Click, Click, Click!
- The Happiest Day of My Life
- Courage - Despite the Odds
- You just never know
- Learning to Listen
- If it is meant to be, it will be
- The Learning Tree
- The Red Marbles
- The Weeds of Our Lives
- The Distinct Sound of Purring
- Flowers for the Teacher
- The Red Ribbon
- Santa's Love
- All The Good Things
- Yusuf - He's My Brother
- Extra Good Luck
- Hoo Hoo Fraks
- Stand tall like the Sunflower
- Unique Words of Forgiveness
- I Got Back On My Seat
- Brick Wall
- White Envelopes
- Love and Music in Their Hearts
- Birthday Cards with Secret Codes
- Gift Exchange - lessons about life!
- When the message light doesn't blink
- Tenant Farmers
- I know you by heart
- In Clay Vessels
- Letting Go
- When the nest emptied
- When the birdies came
- Broken Eggs and Shattered Glass
- After the applause, make time for words of praise!
- Are you a bucker filler or a dipper
- Choosing Confidence
- The Stone Soup Story
- A Mother's Job
- Hugging Life
- The Perfect Partnership
- Acknowledging a Special Treat
- A Different Perspective
- Life is meant to be lived
- Treasured Traditions
- Rules for a better way to live
- I Just Get Started
- Memories sustain us on Father's Day
- Creating Opportunity
- Forgiving without condoning or forgetting
- Nothing is long or short, hot or cold, good or bad!
- The Power of Discipline
- Sentry of the Homestead
- You deserve an Academy Award!
- All in the Family
- What is your Passion?
- We danced through life
- A choice to make
- Five ingredients of personal growth
- Acres of Diamonds
- If you look like a duck . . .
- The Secret of Happiness
- Harvesting Love
- It's music to your ears
- A Special Brand of Luck
- They are just empty cars
- Thou Art An Eagle
- Encouragement Works
- When you're in the cement mixer
- Plant Annually
- Life and Its Legs
- No Barriers in Life
- Getting Started
- Good Leaders are Good Followers
- How much do you want it to be
- How to improve your vision
- What forgiveness will buy
- Why let that hold you back
- Letting the yeast work its magic
- 9 things that make good employees quit
- The Beginning of Positive Thinking
- Giving Back
- May you be known by your love
- Expand your vision of possibilities
- We are meant for the skies
- Mr Belser died last night
- Are you dead on the job
- What makes us happy
- Motivating Others
- The clock is running so make the most of today
- Calming the muddy waters
- Keeping New Year's Resolutions - the secret additive
- You are unique
- Web of Love
- Is happiness around the corner
- Seeing Life Through New Eyes
- An enriching action
- The Road to Significance and Success
- The real purpose of your life
- With leadership its the little things that matter
- The Obstacle in our Path
- Good deeds no matter how small can change the world for someone
- Accepting responsibility has its rewards
- An Inspiring Thanksgiving
- The Ever-Flowing Spiral of Love
- Clementine - My Very First Dog
- The Little Nail
- His Greatest Treasure
- Their love comes with no strings and has no boundaries
- Three Simple Words that Change Everything
- Thank You
- Moral Courage - The Engine of Integrity
- The Person in a Different Skin