A wise, elderly friend once told me, “Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken.”

Whether we realize it or not, people we meet throughout our lives have an impact on us – sometimes good — sometimes bad.

Being retired is a good time to reflect on memorable, life-changing incidences in one’s life.   There are many people in my long life (too many to include here) who have made an impact on me by what they said or did and I often think of them along the way.

In my teens, I did housework to earn extra money for things my parents couldn’t afford.  One May day the woman for whom I was working, observed youngsters delivering May baskets. (Do children still do that?)   A capricious wind blew out the contents of one of their baskets made of construction paper, scattering it to the four winds.  My employer invited them inside and replaced what she could.   I was impressed by her kindness.

The smallest deed sometimes makes or breaks a person’s day.  I remember the happy look on the children’s faces over her kindness.       How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it – George Elliston. 1883-1946.

Other times it was something someone said.            They say we should live our lives in such a way that if someone makes a disparaging remark about us, no one will believe it. That’s difficult (if not impossible) to do.  We will always have naysayers.

An untrue, unkind remark was made about me where I worked.  Hurt, I mentioned it to an elderly co-worker.  He consoled me by saying, “Forget it — reputation is your standing in the community, but character is what you are.  Always remember what you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you.”    I never forgot that.

People may criticize us and that has an impact on us.   When I was about 19 years old, I once went to a different church with my cousin.  After the service, she introduced me to a member of the congregation.   I have forgotten who she was but I never forgot what she said to me:  “Oh, yes, the gum chewer!”   You just know I did not chew gum in church again.

I don’t always remember who said something to me, but I do remember what they said: “Always tell the truth.  That way you never have to remember what you said.”

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