John was in charge of the Ambassador Program at the ski resort I teach at in the winter. From the first day I met him about 12 years ago, John has always had a smile, a kind word, a helpful nature, a positive attitude and the willingness to do what needed to be done. He was the kind of person you aimed to please. You wanted him to like you and respect you. He was just like that!
John was diagnosed with a terminal illness and died last fall. We had a Celebration of Life in honor of John this weekend.
The room was packed with people, each sharing their stories about how John had impacted their lives ... as husband, father, grandfather, friend, teacher, counselor, mentor, and coworker.
Privately I recalled an email I had received from John just a few weeks before he died. In his short note, he commended me for the work I do with kids, said he was proud to know me and encouraged me to carry on. Kids need people like you, he said. Honestly, I never even knew he knew much about what I did when I was not teaching skiing.
I can still feel how I felt the day I read John's email. It meant the world to me that he had even noticed. Even more that he had taken the time to communicate it to me. He was a Miracle Worker. He touched my life as well as touching the lives of so many in so many ways ... as evidenced by the sharing in the room on Saturday.
On Sunday, I went to a play with a couple of teens I work pretty closely with. One, in particular, I have supported through some pretty difficult times, including the loss of her mother. The play we saw was the Miracle Worker. The story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan. A story that I had always loved in my childhood and still hold dear to my heart today.
In the final scene, Annie finally unlocks language for Helen. So simple yet so profoundly powerful. Water ... Mother ... Father ... Teacher.
The part of Helen was played with passion by one of my students ... an amazingly talented 7th grader. The director, producer and everyone involved were clearly passionate about their roles. The cast and crew obvously shared a connection that went well beyond merely working together. Each, in their own way, a Miracle Worker.
MC and I walked back to our cars talking about the story of Helen Keller, the dedication of Annie Sullivan and the production we had just witnessed. In the parking lot as we said goodbye, MC put out her arms and hugged me like never before.
She is truly a miracle. And I know I have helped her maintain balance and sanity through some tough times and supported her through some amazing growth. We didn't exchange any words ... just a simple heart to heart hug.
John and I didn't ever engage in long conversations ... just a smile, a greeting or a handshake, and a few words every cold winter day at the mountain.
Annie Sullivan unlocked Helen Keller's soul with one simple word.
Love is like that. Miracles are like that too. Love and miracles are everywhere. As are Miracle Workers. Today, I am grateful for my Miracle Workers. I am grateful for the honor of being a Miracle Worker. And I am grateful for being open to the many opportunities that arise every day to answer the question, "What would love do now?" and to feel the answer in my heart.
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart." ~ Helen Keller
Transition on Purpose