>> 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 mischieviousness
>> 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,
>> 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 the 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 the assignment, and as the students
>> left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie
>> smiled. Marked said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister.
>> 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 and asked me the usual questions about the trip - the
>> weather, my lull in the conversation.
>> Mother gave Dad a side-ways 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 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 II 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 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 Chucks
>> 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.
>> THE END
>> written by: Sister Helen P. Mrosia The purpose of this
>> letter, is to encourage everyone to compliment the
>> people you love and care about. We often tend to forget
>> the importance of showing our affections and love.
>> Sometimes the smallest of things, could mean the most to
>> another. I am asking you, to please send this letter
>> around and spread the message and encouragement, to
>> express your love and caring by complimenting and being
>> open with communication. 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, I beg of you, to tell the people you love and care
>> for, that they are special and important. Tell them,
>> before it is too late. I leave these messages with you and
>> ask you to continue to spread the message to everyone
>> you know.