Small Gestures (and smiling Nuns?)

by John on August 7, 2010

So I have one of these weird personalities. I mostly blame my parents, the pent up teenage angst and ennui (that I finally put to rest) and the nuns from elementary school.

They (the nuns) instilled in us a strong sense of social responsibility. They reminded almost every day that we needed to do our best to be good citizens and to give back. Any gesture, no matter how small, makes a difference in someone’s life and will teach you a valuable lesson in return.

This lesson started with a simple favor.

My wife calls me in the office to ask me a favor for her boss. Short story long, he’s got a personal friend whose daughter is interested in attending one of the colleges and he needed some more information. Being new in my role, I’m still learning where that particular college is located on campus. Eventually I find it and get the information that he needed for his friend.

I get a phone call a few weeks later asking if I can arrange a campus visit. While this is nowhere near my job duties or responsibilities, I agree. After all, this is my wife’s boss and he’s making a personal request.

The day arrives and I meet the family and the prospective student. We take a tour, she gets advised and her whole family is with her, asking questions to the counselors, to me, to the advisors. At the end of our visit, we all have lunch in the cafeteria to give her a taste of the college experience.

What I didn’t tell you is that the prospective student is still fighting a battle with a disease. She’s winning and getting better. The visit to the school gives her hope, a reason to fight and to try and beat this for good. Her goal is to work in healthcare, and she’d be great in it. And from what I observed on her visit, well that experience taught me more about parenting and about family than any book or bit of advice from a medical doctor.

I saw a father willing to do anything for his little girl, a mother who worried but was happy to see a light in her daughter’s eyes and a big sister who was still looking out for her best interests. I also saw someone determined to win, beat the odds and share her success with her family and others.

I sat for a few minutes quietly in my office once I got back and looked a photograph of Katherine and thought about the new baby on the way realizing that this time I may have learned a lesson sooner rather than later and that the group of nuns somewhere might be happy.

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