Monday, August 29, 2011

A Year of Gratitude - Day Seventy-nine

Day 79 - Mentors
I’ve written before about the power of friendships, and the importance friends have in my life.  Today, I am particularly grateful to have reconnected with my very first mentor.
We hear all the time how important it is to tell the people you love that you love them.  A number of years ago, after reading a book that described the efforts and sacrifices a father made for his family, I took that opportunity to write to my father to let him know not only that I loved him, and how much, but to acknowledge all the sacrifices and efforts he made for me, for my mom, and for my brothers, and to describe for him how and why he was my hero.
Mom told me later how he read and re-read my letter, taking notes, preparing his response.  Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to write me back.  But that was OK - I knew he knew how I felt, and that was enough.  (Later, while going through old papers, Mom found his notes and sent them to me.  In the response that he was preparing, he turned it around and made it a tribute to my mom.  He loved her very much.)
One week ago, I made contact with my first mentor, Joe Hauseman, my fifth grade teacher.  In all my years of school, including university, no one impacted my life more than he.  I learned more from him about life, relationships, joy, truth, and responsibility over that one school year than I learned from any other single person I've ever known.  His joy for life and his determination to live it fully - and to have fun - has stuck with me ever since.  Joe Hauseman was more than just an elementary school teacher.  He was a true mentor.  I have admired this man for 39 years, and I finally had the chance to tell him.
We met in person today.  And thank God he hasn’t changed.  
We talked, and laughed, for two hours.  At times, I think other patrons at the Starbucks where we met must have thought we were nuts.  That’s ok.  I wouldn’t have traded this two hours for any amount of money.  We reminisced, laughing about how Janine used to torment me mercilessly (we’re now good friends).  We spoke of Robin, who apparently died in some kind of accident years ago.  Other names popped up - some I haven’t heard since we all graduated from high school so many years ago.  It was a lovely trip down that familiar “Memory Lane,” and worth every step.
We’ve agreed to meet again.  He is retired now, and he has an idea that he thinks might have potential for a joint effort between us.  I’m game - I’d work with this man in a heartbeat.  A month ago, I couldn’t have dreamed I’d have another opportunity to learn from Mr. Hauseman (“Joe!  It’s Joe.  We’re long past ‘Mr. Hauseman’”).  Today my glass isn’t half full, it’s overflowing.

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