Day # 5 Question: The person (outside of my family) who has had the greatest influence on my life is…
I have to be honest; really, really honest. Of the crazy cast of characters that I have idolized or associated with, outside of my family, none, and I mean none, have had a greater influence on me than the “person” that I am about to honor in this post. I know, gentle, or perhaps not so gentle, reader you are expecting a sappy tale about how a teacher, or perhaps how Oprah, completely changed my life and made me the awesome human being that I am today. Well, that’s not going to happen. For at least 39 years of my life I was a drifter, lost and looking for just the right person to latch onto to reveal to me the vast secrets of life. I went about my daily business, empty and wanting, until one fateful day when recess duty changed everything. I know you teachers out there are wondering HOW recess duty could be life altering. Battling the elements and breaking up whiney fights is usually less than enlightening. However, this fateful recess duty was on the last day of school when all things seem possible.
I was zoned out, totally allergized from the maintenance men mowing, and only semi-watching the kids, when a small voice (just kidding, there are no small voices on a playground) informed me that there was a snake by the baseball diamond. I trekked over to left field, knowing that I was no Steve Irwin. If this viper attacked, I would be pulling an Osama and using the closest kid as a human shield. As I got closer, I could see the tall grass wiggling. I was just about to start scanning the playground for the perfect serpent buffer, when a tiny, striped kitten appeared. In retrospect, I should have noticed that a light poured down from the heavens and a full chorus of angels began to sing, I should have realized that this was it; that I had met the being I’d been searching for my entire life, but there were more pressing matters at hand. This poor little kitty had been grazed by the mower. Her face was cut and she was struggling to walk. I whipped out my cell phone (not allowed, but much better than using a kid as a human snake shield) and called my daughter. She called our vet and then hurried to the school with the cat carrier. Soon my future mentor was at Dr. Daniel’s being cured while I was enduring an end-of-the-year party. After goodbyes were said, and my head stopped buzzing from the noise, I headed to the vet’s where my tiny Buddha was waiting for me. Her wounds were superficial and her back legs weren’t damaged, only temporarily out of socket. She had been given her first round of shots, some antibiotics and was ready to go home with me.
You have never seen the face of true appreciation until you’ve gazed upon a tiny being, who has just lapped up a lion’s share of cat milk, snuggled deep in the fleecy covers of her new cat bed while kneading the air. Sophie has taught me the important things in life: nap when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry, and play when the urge strikes you. Never be afraid to jump higher than it seems possible and always land on your feet. Always ask nicely for what you want and reward any gift with great affection. Most of all she’s taught me to remember that even on your very worst day, the possibility of a better life is always on the horizon. (She’s also taught me that drinking from the toilet is unacceptable, as is scratching up an $800 chair, but I already kind of knew that!)