Four words … 40 years later

31 May

Here’s a nice story for you today, about how taking the time to offer a simple kindness can potentially come back around to brighten your own life.

Last week I posted a blog titled “We all have a story. This is mine.”  It told about my participation in a portrait/story project created by my friend and teaching colleague Linda Hayes.

In my story, I recalled something my high school English teacher said to me one day, four simple words that changed my life. When I shared that blog on Facebook, my brother Jim took notice and encouraged me to try to get in touch with the teacher and let her know the positive influence her words had.

Her name was Linda Yanchus, my junior-year English teacher at Owego Free Academy. I graduated from OFA more than 40 years ago, so I didn’t hold out much hope that I’d be able to track her down. Still, I decided to give it a shot.

Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I very quickly connected with Linda’s ex-husband’s younger brother’s wife.  She was happy to pass along my phone number.

Early last week, I got a phone call from my former teacher.

She said that she actually remembered me and my writing and the fun way I would put things. We had a very nice conversation, but I didn’t tell her exactly what she had said to me. I wanted her to read the story for herself. I told her about my blog and invited her to read it there.

A few days later I got this note from her:

That IS quite a story and you ARE a good writer! Thank you so much for reaching out to me and sharing what is now an important moment for both of us. I am gratified to learn that I had a positive influence on you and wish you the very best with your writing, your work with elementary readers and your eventual retirement.

I guess the moral of this story is that you never know how something seemingly insignificant can have a life-long effect on someone.

Words mean a lot.

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