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I received this from a friend. Thought it was interesting so I'm passing
ALL GOOD THINGS
He 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 Eklund was one in a million. Very
neat in appearance, but had that
happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness
Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that
talking without permission was not
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 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 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
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
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 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
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 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 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 his 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
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
That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all
his friends who would never see him
Written by: Sister Helen P. Mrosla. 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. Tell
the people you love and care
for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too
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