Back in December my mother retired and my sister and I threw a surprise retirement party for her shortly after Christmas. We had invited a lot of people but were unsure who would actually attend since it was just two days after Christmas. One of the people who we invited is a very close family friend named Deb, and her husband and daughter. I had really hoped they would come since I hadn't seen Deb in over 15 years. As she came through the door my heart stopped and my eyes filled with tears. If there were ever a moment in my life where I've seen someone who is so much a part of who I am and became emotionally overwhelmed-that was it.
Deb was my parent's close friend from our church. She was also my babysitter. Deb was awesome and she made everything so much fun-I'm not kidding either, she always knew how to have a good time. I remember being very young and hearing her sing in the church, seeing her bake in her kitchen, and going with her to her evening job cleaning one of our favorite Mexican restaurants (La Paloma). She would always turn that oven on and make us fresh food while she was cleaning. She took me to the movies (I still remember Care Bears), she took me to the pool, to the library, and we always had so much fun. She seemed so free spirited and laid back and always saw the best in people. When her husband Dale died of Leukemia we were all devastated. It brought us closer together, and I saw a woman keep her faith and her strength even in the midst of losing her husband. And then I saw her marry an amazing man, Lynn, who has been by her side ever since with their beautiful daughter Gabi.
Throughout the years we lost touch....life happened and I hadn't seen Deb in over 15 years. As I got older I realized how much of an influence she had on me. All of those fun car rides, seeing her sing, watching her cook, her zest for life, and her ability to laugh are all things that are very much with me to this day. I have a wild and crazy fun side that surprises people who don't know me very well--well this comes from Deb! She knew how to be naughty (and still does). It was so good to see her and her family. I wanted to tell her just how much she meant to me, which I did through tears. I wanted her to know how much apart of me she is.
I think we all can be grateful and thankful in this life to be touched and influence by people who truly love us. They influence our work and our lives in ways that are seen and unseen. I find people's influence in my life becomes more and more obvious to me the older I get. I'm so grateful to those who have influenced me in my life. Mr. Rogers summed it up best in his lifetime acceptance speech when he said:
"So many people have helped me to come here to this night. Some of you are here, some are far away and some are even in Heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds of silence."
Let's all take a moment now and think about those people who have influenced us and helped us to become who we are. You will find that your life is full of people who truly care about you and want the best for you.
My you all have a wonderful February!