Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thank You For Making a Difference

Before another One Question Wednesday rolls around at the feet of Josie Two Shoes of Picking Up Pieces, I thought I’d best respond to her question in response to my question the Wednesday before last. [You got that straight, right?]

Her question to me is:

Of all the people who have played some role in your life, which one has influenced you the most strongly and how? What lessons did you take away from that experience?

I throw her an easy-peasy question about a past love, and she sends me that? I’m tempted to never ask a question of her again. [Right. You can read my question and her answer

Enough stalling. I would say the person who influenced me the most strongly was Dale. He came into my life when I was a sophomore in high school, very much a stoner although not falling onto hard times (such as bad grades or suspensions or being busted) because I was quite intelligent and I had incredibly good luck.

Dale was a theatre teacher. [Did you note the “re” in “theatre”? It mattered back then.] The high school had a hell of a theatre set-up. It was a new school, only four years old by then, and another teacher was needed in the theatre department.

I won’t go into great detail about the prick who was the head of the department. Suffice it to say he was a prick who favored girls who rubbed his back. Yeah, not my type of guy. In walks the 23-year-old Dale, standing in sharp contrast to the rode-hard-and-put-away-wet mid-40s Virgil Carrington “Pat” Jones, Jr. [Yeah, that’s how we had to refer to the asshole.]

Dale saved me from being a nobody in that place. He offered me solutions other than drinking and smoking. He and his wife opened their homes and their hearts to me. When my parents separated in the spring and ultimately divorced a year later, he and Claudia were there for me. They were the counterbalance to the bad things swirling all around me.

We suffered through an estrangement (or two) before I showed up on his doorstep on the eve for my departure for college. He forgave me. They never wrote me off.

What lessons did I take away? That everyone is deserving of care. That teenagers are stupid, but they grow up eventually, and they can pay it forward to others in need of care. That forgiveness and love must go hand-in-hand if we’re ever to make it in this often neglectful, often unfair, and often scary world. That making a difference in just one person’s life can make a difference in so many other people’s lives.

[Now, go offer a hand to someone in need. Yeah, you. Go on. You’ll be glad you did.]


Toni said...

You are so lucky to have had Dale in your life. Did you keep in touch after college?

Jen B said...

Forgiveness and love go hand in true in this world. Well written, glad you didn't keep

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Wow, very well written Patios. So true, so true.

g said...

I would think that if not for these experiences, we wouldn't be the person we are today.

But yes, you're lucky that Dale came in at the right time, or else, who could say, right?

Then again, it's good you have that sense in you to CHOOSE wisely. There may be Dales in our lives, but sometimes we choose to ignore them.

And, great advice.

It's not like we can change the world... but one act of kindness might go a long way.

Jeni said...

Thanks again for a great post -and a reminder of things that may not seem important at the time, but overall, often make a big impact on others, as well as on our selves. Loved the "forgiveness and love" aspect and it's been proven time and time again just with my three kids, for openers.

mitzh said...

I agree even a single or the most smallest acts of kindness goes a very long way...

Anonymous said...

A very thought provoking post. We sometimes don't recognize help when we see it; but you did.

josie2shoes said...

Awesome, awesome answer, Patty, WOW! I so definitely agree with you - one person who cares can make ALL the difference to another life, and they in turn to others. I know of at least a dozen people, including me, who wouldn't even be here if one person hadn't made the effort to care. Loved this story, and I know that you realize how blessed you were to have Dale in your life. I also know that you are the kind who will continue to pass it on! I love ripple effects! (For being a "hard question" you sure did a great job answering. :-)

Gina said...

I am so glad that you had someone like Dale. More people than we realize stick their respective necks out to help people. Kudos to him and them!

R. L. said...

As the current Theatre teacher at this school you attended, I know Dale would love to read this. Can I send it to him? go to You'll find how to contact me.


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