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Remembered Kindness on the Playground

At the risk of embarrassing a friend, I want to share something I wrote recently. Rusty is a friend to many and has had immeasurable positive influence during his life, but I didn’t know him at the beginning of this story.

During the third grade, I had Rheumatic Fever and missed the last half of the school year. My parents made sure I had a tutor, but we decided it would be best for me to repeat third grade. All my friends moved on to fourth grade. At the beginning of the next school year, I felt lost walking alone on the playground and dribbling a red kickball. Rusty and a friend of his, Mark, came up and asked if I’d like to play basketball with them. They were my first new friends that year.

A few years ago, I mentioned this incident to Rusty and could tell he didn’t remember it. I thought it must have been because he did kind things so often. How could he possibly recall them all?

I’m sharing this simple story and poem in hopes that students will follow Rusty’s example. Who knows? Maybe some of their acts of kindness and friendship will be remembered for years to come.

Remembered Kindness

Being a friend when a friend was most needed
was so natural a part of who he was.
Years later, he had no memory of that crucial
day when kindness was shown to a schoolmate on
a dusty playground.
He had no idea of the weight his friendship might carry.
He had no thought of self-serving motives, or earning merit with his creator.
He could not see at that time how a kind act would result in lifelong admiration.

I guess that’s how it is for people who are truly kind to the core.
There is so much goodness that it often comes out unrecognized and without fanfare.
It’s just the essence of who they are.

Little Acts of Kindness

Jimmy Warnock seeing his new great-grandson, Sam

A friend lost his mother today. While thinking of her kindness and love for family, I began to think about the many acts of kindness that characterized my parents.

In the late 1980s, we moved to El Dorado so I could take a teaching job that would allow our new daughter, Christen, to be closer to grandparents. My father had a little empty rent house, so we rented it at a fair price.

I loved my new job as band director at Rogers Junior High and found a passion for teaching. We paid our bills promptly and felt pride in knowing we were making our way. When we found a place to buy out on the Strong Hwy, my father wrote me a check for all the rent I had paid him for that little rent house.

He and my mother took great pleasure in doing that. They also enjoyed working on our new “fixer-upper” house to make it livable. I used to marvel at the satisfaction they showed while working to make something better for others.

I had a very good father and mother. I miss them very much.

My parents holding me and totally clueless about the challenges I would bring.

Alma Intermediate School Newsletter for September of 2014


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Alma Intermediate School Newsletter for September of 2014 


Painful Memory Contains Lessons


From the Principal…

My mother met a lady recently who said she rode the bus with me when we were in school.   She was being bullied by some boys and said I intervened to make them stop.  She asked my mother to tell me she never forgot this.  I was pleased to hear that I did the right thing in that situation but had no memory of the event.

Unfortunately, I have a clear memory of another event from those years.  While sitting in a football stadium visiting with friends, the subject of a new student came up.  There was some laughter about the person and I chimed in with a cutting comment that drew more laughter.  A moment later I realized the person who was the target of our laughter was sitting in front of us and heard every word.   She did not react but quietly moved down a few rows.  I sat there feeling sick.

If I had said something as simple as, “She’s cool,” that might have dampened the comments and laughter.  But no, I was more interested in fitting in than protecting the feelings of others.  I was not an “up stander.”

Why do I remember this event after so many years?  It still stings as if it happened yesterday.  I’ve never shared this story with anyone until now, but this memory contains lessons that I continue to learn from today.

1. Speak kind words to others.  Stop and think before saying something critical.  There are times when it’s appropriate to be critical of ideas.  But, it’s possible to be critical of ideas without being critical of people.

2. Treat others as you want to be treated.

3. When someone is being hurt, try to be an “up stander” rather than a bystander or participant.

We all make mistakes, but it’s important to learn from them, even the embarrassing and painful ones.  Saying something hurtful toward someone may become a painful memory we regret. My hope is that the kindness we show others will be remembered and shared for years to come.

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