Random acts of kindness

Bonnie Harhord

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners… he is a joy to be around..”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper That he got from a grocery bag Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.” After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets..”

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling* her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for* believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”

(For you that don’t know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

Warm someone’s heart today. . . pass this along. I love this story so very much, I cry every time I read it. Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today? tomorrow? Just “do it”.

Random acts of kindness, I think they call it?

A lovely wedding!

A shallow pool lighted up with fairy lights, crystal danglers, tea-lites and daisy pom-poms @ the wedding

A shallow pool lighted up with fairy lights, crystal danglers, tea-lites and daisy pom-poms @ the wedding

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a very close friend’s wedding. It was a really beautiful affair with lots of fairy lights, lengths of white tulle and white-white flowers everywhere.

What is really remarkable about the wedding is that the entire cost of the wedding was borne by my friend and his lovely bride. They had saved up for nearly a year to make this lovely evening with friends and family happen. Its also a really touching and beautiful thing that they have been dating each other for the last 10 years – from the day the couple turned 20.

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The arch – entiwned with bamboo, white tulle, ferns, white gladioli, white tiger lilies and daisy asters. The aisles were lit with white Chinese pom-poms and gigantic two-foot high candles @ the wedding

Since the girl’s people were from Andhra and my friend’s from Bengal – instead of going for the ritual ceremonies of either cultures, the couple decided to be a little un-conventional and went all subtle, white n Western for the wedding. Though many Indian brides have started donning white gowns on their D-Day – still quite a number of people kept coming over and asking if the bride or my friend was a Christian (as if white gowns are the sole prerogative of Goans and Indian Christians!Lol!)

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Lovely daisy pom-poms strung on crystal chains – interspersed with glass tea-lites @ the wedding

There was lots of fun, dancing & great food at the wedding. I don’t think anyone enjoyed the music half as much as baby-ma. My little girl started dancing at 7 and didn’t stop till the clock struck 11 – when she was forcibly carted off to our waiting car. She also managed to have so much zest and energy on a diet of lime juice, pineapple juice and whatever other juice she could lay her little grubby hands . She refused to eat so much as a bite of food as long as the music was on. It was nice to see our friends patiently steering her away from 3-inch stilettos and patent-leather flat-soled shoes as she took her place on the dance floor!

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Lush with flowers n fern @ the wedding

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Chinese box-lanterns add their charm to the subtle fragrances of the flower pom-poms @ the wedding

Another nice thing about the wedding were the wedding vows – my friend apparently promised to “cook n clean; don an apron and look good in it too.”

Here’s wishing them a very happy married life!

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Pretty as a picture @ the wedding