Margaret's Musings: How will you be remembered?I was home recently visiting with family friends of my parents’ generation when I discovered a high school classmate of mine had died within the year of cancer.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
I was home recently visiting with family friends of my parents’ generation when I discovered a high school classmate of mine had died within the year of cancer. While I will be the first to admit I have not stayed in touch with many from my high school class, I usually passively catch up when I go home by visiting with classmates,who still live in town, during chance encounters in the grocery store, greenhouse, Memorial Day parade, church dinners or Lenten fish frys.
My first response was — he was always so kind. There are those who throughout the course of one’s younger life you remember simply because they were kind to you while what seemed like the rest of the world was beating you up. That is code for the nasty behavior; today it’s called bullying, dispensed by girls to fellow girls in that junior high age group.
I learned much later, that was and still is, pretty common behavior. But when you are the subject it is pretty lonely. I still remember every one of my classmates who rose above that and remained kind and steady. None of them became fast friends as we passed through that phase into high school where the pettiness and abuse was left behind in a rush of new students from three other schools, new classes and an array of new activities to occupy one’s time. I went on to be one of the happiest students in high school, even though braces graced my face, I was generally known for smiling.
However, here we are four decades later and I am reminded how important it was to have peers who remained kind from kindergarten through high school graduation. I suspect the reason they were was multifold. In some cases, it was how they were raised; in others, it was perhaps a deeper understanding born from a similar experience. Either way a simple act of kindness can have lasting benefits unknown to the ones offering it.
It may be worth pausing to think about, how and if you will be remembered. Life is not a perfect journey and this week we realize it is the first anniversary of our friend Willis Miller’s death. We learned at the time of this death, he traveled, figuratively and literally in a lot of different circles, well beyond the Hudson Star-Observer during his long life of 89 years. Willis would, I am sure, would be considered by those who shared circles with him as a kind person.
Recently, we also brought you the news of the untimely death of Debbie Lindstrom, who by all accounts never spent a day without a smile, which in and of itself, can be a gift of kindness to strangers and friends alike.
Whether it is something small such as a pleasant greeting or something large, such as Willis’ million dollar plus gift to the UW-River Falls, choosing to be kind is singularly human and so is laughing. So instead of walking with your head down, look up, smile (you all know it takes less energy and muscle power to smile than to frown) and warm up a stranger’s day just by being KIND. You never know — it just might make a huge difference and be remembered years later.