Friday, April 11, 2014

Take A Moment to Lift and Teach

A few weeks ago I received an email requesting stories, memories or thoughts of a woman whom I knew as a young girl and who was a great inspiration to me.  She is sick and her daughter was reaching out for stories to share with her mother that might brighten her days and lift her spirits as she deals with the illness that has now taken over.

It did not take long and a flood of memories of this woman began to flow into my mind.  I could have shared so much but I chose one memory that did not just change my life but altered my direction and it was all because she cared to take the time to explain something so simple to me.  This is the letter I wrote to her:

March 31, 2014

Dear Julie,

My memories of you – I have so many. You have known me from the time I was so very small to the days when I started going through all those wonderful girlhood changes! As a young girl growing up in the 70’s I looked up to you as an example of what a lady should be and what a good mother must be. I’m sure you never realized how closely I was watching but I was! Tall, beautiful, poised and oh so sweet I wanted to be just like you.

I babysat for you every Friday night so that you and your husband could go out to dinner or to a movie and I looked forward to those evenings every week. One Friday night in particular was monumental in my life but you probably don’t even remember it. To me, it was a moment in time that shaped the character of the wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend that I have always wanted to be.

You had picked me up and taken me to your home up the street from my house, and I was playing with the kids while you and your husband were getting ready to leave. I was 13 and it was my first babysitting job. I noticed that the baby needed a diaper change so I grabbed a cloth diaper and set to work to clean him up. I knew what I was doing as I had several younger siblings of my own but at that point we were using Pampers diapers so I hadn’t really changed many cloth diapers but I thought I could handle it. I believe your husband thought differently! He walked into the room to say hello and observe what I was doing. I think that he was concerned about my diapering skills and called over his should, “Hey Julie! You need to come down here and help Becky. I think she needs some help with the diaper.”

I have to admit, I was mortified. I had changed so many diapers at my own house and I really thought I was a pro! I continued on with my work, looking down the whole time, until you walked into the room. You are a calming presence and I knew immediately when you had entered. You looked down at me and then straight at your husband and said, “She is doing fine. Go get your keys so that we aren’t late.” He left the room and you got down on the floor with me and showed me how YOU changed a diaper and explained to me exactly what I should do. You then said something that has stuck with me throughout my life. You said, “You are such a good big sister to your younger siblings. I know you are going to make a wonderful mother someday. Diapering and all this other stuff will come to you later so don’t worry about it. Just have fun with the kids.” You got up off the floor and walked into the kitchen to get your purse. You called out to the kids and I to have a good night and said that you would see us later. Class, all the way!

I want you to know how you have touched my life in so many ways. Making me feel loved and cared for when things were tough and helping me to understand that things would get better. You helped me to see the humor and joy in life. You were always supportive in my Church activities. Young Womens, dances (as long as they didn’t interfere with your Friday Night Date Night!), road shows, etc. And you were and still are a beauty! I loved your long wavy hair!

I have thought of you so often over the years as I have mothered my own children and now as I welcome and get to know my first grandchildren you are even more of an example to me. Thanks, Julie.

I am praying for your comfort, joy and peace as you spend time with your beautiful family.



So simple, right?  It only took her 3 minutes to get down on her hands and knees and show me what to do and told me that she had faith in me but she also showed me how important I was and how I could make a difference.  From this one experience I learned that I wanted to be that kind and loving sister, daughter, wife, mother and friend that she was.  I wanted to be patient and helpful to those around me because she had shown me that consideration.  Of course there were other people who affected me in such ways but this particular occasion really made an impression on me and gave me the boost I needed to realize I could and should always try to be the best person I could possibly be.  Also that I should always be patient, understanding and helpful to others.  This is not always the first thing on a teenagers mind so it was life changing for me.

I hope that I have been helpful to someone in my life in such a way that they have felt my love and care for them.  I hope that I have been able to teach someone something that would help them to see a way to change and make their life better. Of course, my prayer has always been that I could leave these sorts of impressions on my own children and hopefully I have but if I have been able to reach someone else too, that would be a wonderful thing.

Julie never knew how closely I was watching her, or did she?

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