A few years ago, I met up with a high school classmate whom I had not seen in twenty years, maybe more. I didn’t recognize her because she had gotten much older than 18, not that I had, because, according to my brain, I hadn’t changed a lick and a half since I graduated from high school. You know how that is: gray hair and wrinkles are only present when we look in the mirror, not when there is no mirror and that’s a good thing. Other people get those age marks, but not me!
Anyway, as a high school student, this girl and I did a lot together, you know, basketball games, dances, the weekend burger, fries, and cherry coke at the Roe Ann Drive Inn, and had generally a good time. We did not have the same goals, not even close, as her goal was to get married and have a passel of kids and mine was to go to college and maybe join the Marines. I never did the “burn the bra” thing but was definite about the women’s lib movement of the sixties.
She and I re-met at the airport in an Idaho town, both headed to Boise for meetings. Luckily, she recognized me (remember, I had not changed an iota) and flagged me down. We started chatting and I asked about her career, expecting the conversation to turn to her life as a housewife and having babies, who in turn had given her grandbabies. “Nope,” she said, “I’m a doctor.”
She had to pick me off the floor and shake me silly, “What? How did that happen? You hated school, skipped every Friday, had a cajillion boyfriends, and spent some time every week with the principal, explaining why your skirts were above the knees.”
“That’s all true,” she said, “but you did it. I became a doctor because of you. Remember those cokes at the Roe Ann?”
“Well, yeah, of course, I remember those cokes, always cherry cokes, lots of fun.” What was she talking about? One of her passel must have knocked her in the head.
She answered with a question. “Don’t you remember? Every time we went to the Roe Ann, you started nagging me about going to college saying, ‘You are smart, why don’t you go to college?’ I didn’t really believe you, because no one had ever told me I was smart and my grades were abysmal, but you said it, and I remembered it. So, after I got a good taste of what it was like to be a housewife, I decided to give college a try, liked it, and decided to go the whole way. And now I’m a doctor.”
I had a lot of trouble believing it but checked with Dr. Google who knows a lot more than I do, and indeed she was a doctor. The lesson to me was: You never know how people will react and remember by your actions or comments. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with staying home, home and kids are the most important job in the world, especially now, I think. Even if I hadn’t told her she was smart, she might have become a doctor or a rocket scientist or maybe she would have stayed a housewife. I didn’t remember those comments, but she did. She believed what I said and took them to heart. We all have many encounters every day and our comments and actions are important and you never know what they will reap. A kind word is, well, a kind word.
Now, about that boy that I told wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans, well, I married him anyway, and he ended up being a prosecuting attorney, a legislator, and a judge. Oops.
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