We all want to make a difference—no one wants to die and think their life did not matter…. that it was of no significance. So, you spend time trying to do good and live right … all the time wondering “does what I’m doing count? Does my being here make a difference?”
The truth is… yes, you can make a difference.
And there is one simple little thing you can do to guarantee that.
You can do it this week. But first……
Junior High and Being the Eye in the Sky
The setting—1960s—Middle School (aka Junior High in Florida). I was awkward—taller than most girls (I heard all the “eye in the sky” and “how’s the weather up there” jokes); skinny, frizzy hair (due to Toni Home Perms), glasses, braces.
You get the picture?
Add to the mix the stomach churning events of trying to find a table to sit at in the cafeteria where you would not be rejected; going to gym and changing clothes in the locker room where everyone else has a body better than yours and wearing a white cotton gym-suit which was a one-piece sleeveless shapeless outfit with bloomer type shorts and an attached belt.
Imagine what a tall skinny frizzy-hair glasses braces flat-chested 13-year-old girl looked like wearing that.
Need I say more?
The Memorable Words
My father was a quiet man but expressed his love for me and my brother in many ways. I never doubted that he loved me and I adored him.
I have no idea what made him say these memorable words to me during that time of my life. Did he sense my struggles? Did he see I needed to have my ego built up? I do not know but I will always remember what he said….. which was…..
“You have great legs.”
The truth was….. I did NOT have great legs.
I had skinny toothpick legs.
But my father, a man I loved and adored, told me I had great legs and I believed him. And his words gave me strength and confidence at times when I truly needed it.
What I Saw Through My Father’s Eyes—The Reflection in the Glass
The memory is so vivid—walking down the hallway at Shenandoah Junior High—at the end of a long day—classrooms on the left and arches opening to a courtyard on the right. At the end of the corridor was a glass case—where the school would put trophies or printed announcements.
As I trudged down the corridor, lugging books and bags, I could see my reflection in the glass. And I remember vividly on more than one occasion after a long and not so great day….. seeing that reflection.. and thinking to myself “My father thinks I have great legs.”
And my spirits would lift.
Trying to look attractive is a struggle for some of us… it takes work… and our society does not help with its emphasis on perfection. Since those days, my hairstyle has changed (no more perms); contact lens replaced glasses; braces were removed; skinny was replaced by not-so-skinny; and my height became an asset.
But even after all these years, when I am headed out the door and I do the “am I presentable?” glance in the mirror, I can still hear my father’s words and they give me a lift.
My One Big Regret about Those Memorable Words Is…….
I don’t think I ever told my father what those words meant to me. All those years I carried his words in my heart and I never told him how they encouraged me.
I regret that.
I could have let him know the importance of those simple words. I could have let him know how he made a difference in my life—he never got to know what THOSE words meant to me—not just when he spoke them but all my life.
They were memorable words…. But only I knew that.
Making a Difference
I began this story by stating that we all want to make a difference. We want to know our lives mattered.
The simple truth is—to make a difference in someone’s life, you let them know they made a difference in yours. The door swings both ways.
As you read this, someone has come to mind. A phrase they said; support they gave; without ever knowing it…. they made a difference in your life…. but they don’t know it.
You Can Change That
Let them know… let your family member, your friend, your co-worker… tell them that they spoke memorable words that have stayed lodged in your heart…. that gave you courage…gave you hope… and they made a difference in your life.
In doing so, you get to give the words back…. you get to make a difference …. And your being here on this small planet mattered to someone.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words—And They All Live in My Heart
The picture below is of my brother and me celebrating our father’s birthday (1961). It is my favorite picture as joy abounds—you see it in all our faces.
The next picture is pre-middle school (1959)—and apparently in those days I thought posing (one-foot forward) was the thing to do. It seems only appropriate to share the early days of “great legs”.
I look at these pictures and I remember the love my father gave me and the challenges I faced growing up. His words—simple and silly as they may seem—still reside in my heart.
Your Next Step—This is Worth the Price of Admission
My father is no longer living and thus, I cannot tell him how I hung on to his words and the regret I feel about my silence makes the memories bittersweet. But I can learn from that regret and thus, I am striving to say thank you to those that have made a difference in my life….. in the present and the past.
You can do the same—life is short—make a difference in someone’s life. Do something that counts.
Don’t keep memorable words locked up in your heart.