Recently, I learned that a person very dear to me had passed away. It was a teacher from High School. Probably not what you were expecting,  right?

Well, he wasn’t just ANY teacher. He was my Grade 7 Social Studies teacher first, but I really connected with him in Grades 11 and 12 when I took German from him. He offered extra-credit classes at lunch time for those who were interested, simply for learning’s sake, and he did this for many years AFTER he had retired as a teacher. Talk about work ethic and caring about transferring knowledge!!

As you can imagine, the “market” for high school German studies in rural Nova Scotia was not very large. And this was in no way a “bird course” – in fact, it was one of the most demanding courses I’ve ever taken! So the class started out with about 5 students in Grade 11, and quickly dwindled to only 2 and stayed that way through Grade 12. You get to know each other pretty well in a group that size!

As I said, this was not just ANY teacher. I credit him – and my high school Guidance Counsellor – with making it possible for me to go online roulette to university. You see, being in a family of 7 living on a disability income (my Dad became disabled when he was only 28!), affording a university education was unlikely. However, my strong academic performance was rewarded when, somehow, I received a full scholarship to Dalhousie for my first year! I’m quite convinced these two gentlemen had something to do with this ‘good fortune’ – and there is no doubt that this changed the trajectory of my life!

In fact, he and I have kept in touch these 20 years since, exchanging Christmas Cards and personal notes each year. (I will miss that this coming Christmas!)

So, yesterday, I made the trek to the Annapolis Valley to attend this friend’s memorial service. As the online condolences and in-person comments indicated, my experience of this man was mirrored in countless others’ experiences – young and old alike. The depth and quality of his contribution cannot be quantified!

I share this with you for two reasons:

  • As my public “Thank You!” to Dr. WalterAusserleitner, my teacher and friend, and
  • To ask you this question: Who do YOU need to thank? Who has had a profound impact on your life? Do they know how they’ve affected you? If not, what might happen if you told them?

Too often, we wait until someone passes on before we share our stories of their impact in the world. This seems a good reminder to let them – and others – know how much they are valued.

The other thought that struck me at the memorial service was: Wouldn’t it be awesome to have an impact of this sort on others?!

It helped renew my vision for serving others in my own way, hoping that – when all is said and done – it will have been at least somewhat as meaningful as Walter’s impact has been on so many.

Thank you to those who impact our life journey so profoundly!