It can be easy to forget, but we live in this big, beautiful, chaotic, sometimes messy and confusing world together. That means that we are all connected, even in times when it seems like a connection with others is an impossible task. Sometimes all it takes is a kind word or gesture to leave an impact on someone.
The biggest influences on our life come from all over the place: they can be a teacher from our youth that set us in the right direction or even a fictional character that left an impact on our life and way of thinking. It can be our parents—or we can even turn the tables and be the one to leave a lasting impact on them. Here are some of the most inspiring stories about experiences where someone made a huge impact on another person.
1. A Clean and Sober Father Impacts All
Apparently, I guilted my dad into sobriety, though I have no memory of it. Early Saturday morning (after cartoons) I tugged on his sleeve while he was sleeping off a hangover, and he rolled over and yelled “Bleearghleemeealone!” so I screamed and ran away. He said the look of terror on my face convinced him to stop drinking.
2. The Up-side to Cooties
I had the worst fear of the cooties. So much so that I began telling my parents that I would much rather marry another guy. I’m straight as an arrow and you can’t make this stuff up. I paraded around the house proclaiming my “homosexuality.” Little did I know, my parents were majorly conservative and fundamentalist Christians, and once they experienced love for a “gay” child, they did a 180 and became major supporters of gay rights.
3. It Gets Better
I made an “it gets better” video for children of hoarders, and I’ve talked about it in various other incarnations. For the last couple years or so I’ve been getting at least two emails a month from teenagers and young adults telling me that I helped realize that they’re not alone. A couple even got the courage to get out of their situation. As gratifying as that is, it’s still very painful to read those emails.
4. A Sentence Can Go a Long Way
An engineering professor that I admire, in a time of serious self-doubt, looked at me and simply said, “You’ve got this, you’re more than capable.” That validation from a brilliant and seasoned engineer influences me every day.
5. One Delicious Sandwich
When I was in high school, I came home and I told my mom that the lunch she made me tasted great. She hugged me really hard and told me she was having a bad day and that me appreciating the small things she does for me really makes her feel better. I was kind of shocked. I just thought the sandwich tasted good.
6. Making the Tough Teacher Cry
I had AWESOME teachers my senior year of high school and was very grateful to all of them. I bought my two favorites (calculus and English) flowers, and gave them thank you cards. My English teacher, who was this towering, intimidating guy, told me later that the card I gave him made him so happy he cried. I was definitely not expecting that.
7. Grandpa Doc
My grandfather was a doctor in family medicine for years. He made house calls until the day he retired, well into his 70s. For his 90th birthday, we put out ads in the local newspaper asking for former patients to write with their memories, collecting hundreds of cards from former patients—and a few from nut jobs.
On his birthday, he opened up a mailbox we had bought and decorated for the occasion. reading the first few cards, his eyes welled up with tears, and he managed to squeak out, “I thought they had forgotten.” He parceled out those cards, reading a few every day, and shortly after he finished reading them he passed away. I can’t think of a better way to go than to end your life reliving the legacy of care and compassion that he embodied all his life.
8. Sharing Lunch
Back in seventh grade, a new guy came to my school. It was his first day at school, and it was lunchtime. He had no idea where to sit since he didn’t know anyone. Without even knowing who he was, I invited him to sit with my friends and me. Fast forward 7 years, and he’s still a good friend of mine. A few weeks back I was hanging out with him and some other friends, and we were talking about how we all met.
He asked if I remembered how we met. And I didn’t. He told me that story and said that I was the first friend he made at the new school. It felt pretty good to hear that I made such a big impact on him back then.
9. Learning to Read
The summer before I started high school I caught up with my first-grade teacher and thanked her for teaching me how to read. Unlike most of my ilk, I love to read and I can almost directly point to her because of it. She cried and hugged me, saying that I was the first person to ever tell her that.
10. Kind Barista
I’m a barista at Starbucks. A couple of weeks ago a girl was on the phone, clearly upset. I took a risk—anything against company policy is a no-no—and wrote “it’s going to be okay” on her cup. The next day she came in and said that I really made her day and she was incredibly grateful for the gesture. Feels good, bro.
11. Speaking Up to Mom
My mom and I aren’t very close, mostly because she is an alcoholic, and has been most of my life. I live 2,000 miles from her now, but we still talk every couple weeks, and on special occasions. Last year around the beginning of the year, her basement flooded and caused quite a bit of damage. Her insurance covered most of it, but it needed to be repainted, and she couldn’t afford it.
My birthday rolled around in February, and she called and asked me what I wanted. I told her I was ok, but she kept insisting. Finally, I told her, “How about for my birthday, you buy yourself the paint for your basement, and I’ll get a friend of mine to come help you do it?” She started crying, and saying how great I was, and apologizing for a lot of the stuff she did to me over the years.
She hasn’t had a single drink since that day. Such a small thing to me, but the results were amazing.
12. A Boss’s Guilt
I got laid off from my first job out of college, and my boss was really upset about it. I had only been there for five months. The company was getting rid of its newest employees and hiring free interns illegally. My boss at this company was the greatest dude—he was visibly upset all day. We talked back and forth afterward, and he sent me some links to job sites where I could look for work.
Seriously a solid guy. In one of my emails to him, I told him I didn’t blame him at all for having to lay me off, and that the company was just in dire straits. He responded something like “You can’t possibly know how much this means to me.” I guess my response didn’t have the biggest impact, but it’s nice to know our friendship went beyond the office.
13. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Direction
A high school music teacher (choral music) changed my life. She convinced me that I could accomplish things. I had been floundering, and she taught me that I could make up my mind what I wanted to become, and then start to go there. So off I went to architecture school and the rest is history. Ironically, I graduated with a degree in music (conducting) and that is what my life has been about.
She taught me to head someplace, anyplace, and head somewhere else if I did not succeed in the first aim. I should have headed for music in the first place, I just was not confident enough to do it. but I learned in a year, And I went to a big enough university, so that I could change if I needed to. Moral: Head someplace, any place. If the direction turns out to be wrong: Change it.
14. Best Hug Ever
I was really sad on this one week. On Friday, a friend of mine surprised me when I was getting out of work to give me a hug—she had stuff to do nearby. That hug was the best I’ve ever had.
15. Push of Confidence
Eighth-grade math teacher. I took a summer class to get ahead and there was only one test so I had no idea how I was doing in the class at the end. Before he gave us our grade, he sat down with us and asked what grade we deserved, individually. I said maybe a C. He asked me if that’s what I really thought, then explained that I only made a couple of mistakes and my only problem was that I didn’t have confidence in my ability.
Now I’m on my way to graduating cum laude in mechanical engineering.
16. The Strongest Don’t Always Survive
Mufasa from The Lion King. At a young age, it taught me that even the strongest and wisest can die, which was a scary thought as a 4-year-old.
17. The Simpsons and Death
Maude Flanders. I was young and it was the first time I had ever really thought about mortality. I felt so sorry for Rod and Todd and started thinking about what would happen when my mother dies. That led to me thinking about what would happen when I die and I haven’t really stopped.
18. Good Ol’ Dennis
After my Xbox gave me the “Red Ring of Death,” I took it into Best Buy because I had a warranty. I didn’t have any of my save files backed up and I was really bummed out about it. At the customer service desk a man named Dennis was working. He could tell that I was sad about losing all of my save files, so he offered to transfer my files from the old hard drive to the new one for free.
This took a few hours but he didn’t mind. He went out of his way to help me out. Anyway, I actually took the customer service survey on the receipt and said all sorts of nice things about Dennis and how great of an employee he is. A month later I went into that same Best Buy and found my review posted on the wall and saw Dennis had gotten promoted.
19. Caring for the Calculus Teacher
Mine is fairly simple, but it makes me happy. One day I was in calculus with a teacher that a lot of people didn’t like. I thought she was alright enough, and I enjoyed the class because I love math. It was towards the end of the school year, and while we were doing our warmup problems, she just looked so down and drained, so I just said, “Are you ok? You seem sad.”
She gave me this stunned look. She shook it off and just said, “Yeah…yeah, I’m ok. Just tired. It’s been a long year.” My school was suffering financially, and cuts were being made to staff. Fast forward to the end of the day, I am walking through the main hallway to exit the building and she turns a corner in front of me. The second she sees me, she starts to tear up and quickly walks up to me and says, “You asked if I was ok today. And you really cared. No one ever does that for me. Thank you,” and then she gave me the warmest hug.
I was a little shocked because I had just asked her a simple question and it meant so much to her, I guess because she knows a lot of people don’t like her and her class because it’s math and she’s very demanding. She’s retiring this year, and I’ll always remember that encounter with her. It makes me smile every time I think about it.
20. Airsoft Surprise
This will probably get buried, but when I was in middle school we had a really poor kid move in on our street. He was one of the funniest and appreciative person I knew, but his home life wasn’t great. His pantry consisted of stacks of Ramen noodles and bread and his mother was working all the time. The kids on our street always played Airsoft, but he couldn’t afford a gun and his mom wouldn’t pay for one.
He could only play when someone who had a spare gun was playing, so he mostly ended up watching and if he was lucky, someone would sit out to let him play. Christmas rolled around and he came to my house in the afternoon. He handed me a present and it was a Nerf pistol that still had the price tag on it ($2.99). I had no idea we were exchanging gifts, but apparently, back in Utah, he always exchanged gifts with everyone.
I quickly got my dad to drive me to the store and I bought him a cheap airsoft gun ($15-$20). When I returned and gave it to him, the look on his face was nothing like I had ever seen before. Here’s this kid who never stops joking around and had never been serious about anything, and he’s in shock. He’s so happy he starts tearing up in front of me and thanked me every day for the next week. Never thought something so little could do so much for a person. Completely changed my outlook on people like him.
21. Being Kind and Getting Put into the Will
This post is similar to one I put up yesterday. Here is my story: My father paints apartments in a college town, so the first weekend of August is known as turn-over weekend and is crazy busy. A few years back I was helping him as I usually do and he had a woman I didn’t know helping as well. She only helped the first day, and that is the only time I have ever met her.
We didn’t talk a whole lot while working, just a little general stuff and we had lunch together at Applebee’s. Well, she is on her second marriage to my father’s cousin. One day my dad informs me that she has apparently made me the only beneficiary in her will. I guess her first husband had a good deal of money that she inherited when he died, she has no children of her own, and all her step-children treat her like crap.
So, she decided I was nice to her and she was leaving me everything. Basically, I was nice to a lady I didn’t know for a day and now she is leaving everything to me in her will.
22. Giving to Charity
I had a $100 bet with a friend online that I lost. He agreed to accept a payment to a charity in his state which feeds the hungry, so I paid it and considered the matter closed. A few weeks later I got a heartfelt thank you letter from a recently widowed woman who lost her husband to (I believe) cancer. As it turns out, at his funeral the family asked for donations to the charity rather than flowers—and my out of state donation was assumed to be a gift in his name.
I even got a Christmas card from the family later that year. I feel like that was the best bet I’ve ever lost, and hope that it provided some small comfort to the family in their time of loss, as well as feeding needy people.
In middle school we went on a field trip and on the first night there we played a huge game of capture the flag. There was this one boy who was always a bit of a loner and never had many friends so me and friend decided to really include him in the game. Told him to guard the flag and after we won we told him he was the MVP of our team.
After the trip when we were back at school, one of the teacher supervisors from the trip pulled me aside and told me that this boy’s mom had called her to say how happy her son was when he got back, he had told his mom all about being MVP of the game and was so excited. I have never felt so good about myself knowing that by doing something so simple I had made this boy’s trip unforgettable.
24. Coming Out of the Cloak
When I was in college I took an archery class for a gym credit in my program and I sat down next to this sort of weird looking kid who was wearing a cloak (yes, a cloak like in medieval stories) and huge Coke-bottle glasses. I said “Hey” and smiled awkwardly because I thought she seemed cool, and I’m also a socially awkward individual—sans cloak or glasses though.
She said hi back and that’s when we knew we’d be awesome friends. We started to hang out and slowly I began to learn more about her and her horrible home life. Nothing she told me could make me leave her side though, because I’m the kind of stupidly loyal friend who won’t leave even though I probably should. Fast forward a few years, and she tells me that our friendship was the longest one she’s ever had.
Nobody ever stuck around long enough to give a crap and that I was reason she was still alive. Because she knew I’d be there for her even when her family wasn’t. She doesn’t hide behind her cloak anymore and she’s doing awesome and it still trips me out that just doing what I thought normal friends do gave her that much motivation and courage that she turned her whole life around.
25. Simply Saying Hello Can Make a Big Difference
My old roommate was a caretaker for a severely developmentally disabled person. I was just crashing on his couch for a couple of weeks. One day he was out doing something and had the guy in the van with him. He came home and asked if I’d come out and say hi. I did, and we chatted for a little while. I made his day by simply talking to him and being nice.
He talked about it for quite some time afterward, according to my old roommate. It was kind of an eye-opener, really. Little things you do can make a big difference.
26. Saying Goodbye to the Kindergarten Teacher
One day at the beginning of last summer, I saw a sign out front of my old elementary school that said “Happy Retirement to Mrs. D!” She had been my kindergarten teacher. I’m 21 now, so a while back. I went and got her a pretty potted plant and a card, and brought it in that afternoon hoping she would still be there.
She instantly recognized me even though the last time she’d seen me was when my sister was in elementary school, which was when I was maybe 12. She cried and we hugged and she told me all the goofy things I did as a kid. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. Later, one of the office ladies told me that I was one of the only old students to come say goodbye.
27. Giving Applause
I was on a college tour a few weeks ago. The tour guide was an older woman, who had been at the university for many years. At the conclusion of the tour, in that momentary silence between when she finished speaking and everyone dispersed, I felt like we were supposed to thank her somehow. So I started clapping, and everyone else joined in.
Immediately her face lit up like we’d just thrown her a surprise party, and she said, “Applause! I’ve been doing this for years, and I’ve never gotten applause!” It just seemed like the natural thing to do to me, but it made her so happy and excited that I still smile thinking about it.
28. Helping the Grief
A few months ago—I think February—my history teacher left school. She didn’t come back for about four weeks, and we found out that her husband died—suddenly, without any warning or prior disease. She has two kids who are in elementary school, and since she’s a teacher in a public school—in California, I might add—we can’t say she would have been very well off.
Anyway, when we were learning about the Cold War before she left, our class made a “Stalin” pun, which she quickly took up on. “Quit Stalin guys, and do your work.” It was pretty entertaining. So the day before she was supposed to come back, my best friend and I started working a big poster full of history puns.
A couple entertaining lines: “We’re just Lenin you know, we need to quit Stalin on our Cold War test.” And of course, “We Woodrow across the Marne River to get you back.” Anyway, she loved it and it seemed to cheer her up. She has it hung up in our class and I’ve noticed that sometimes when she seems upset, she looks up at the poster and seems a little better.
I don’t think it’s my imagination—I think it made a difference.
29. The Meaning of Flowers
My supervisor had worked hard to get us some equipment that we needed. The two men I worked with gave her a lot of grief over it making her feel as if her efforts not only weren’t appreciated, but were stupid. I felt so bad because we did need the equipment and they were just being mean to her that I called a florist that I like and got my favorite arrangement, a ball of pink carnations and baby’s breath delivered to her.
She called me in later and said that the flowers had arrived just after she had gotten back from a meeting where her new boss had bullied her. She said she was sitting there crying ready to quit and then here came the flowers…I wish she was still my supervisor, she’s just the best and I still stop by to tell her that whenever I can.
30. Childhood Comics
When I was a kid, I was really into the Beakman’s World comic strip in the Sunday comics section. This was before the TV show existed. In one of the comics they showed how to make paper at home by bending a clothes hanger into a square, stretching some pantyhose over the hanger, and then dipping the contraption into a sink full of blended newspaper and water.
I made several sheets of the paper and mailed them a question written on the paper. They accepted my question and published it, and said they were truly touched that I had written in on the homemade paper. They said it demonstrated to them that what they were doing was worth it. The guy also said they framed the letters and put them on the wall of their office. Definitely one of the highlights of my childhood.
31. Working With Flowers
I used to work at a flower shop, and will return to that job in the summer. I’m crazy about flowers, but working there was sometimes bittersweet because I’ve never gotten flowers from a guy before. I always created bouquets, never got to enjoy them myself. I was so excited this past Valentine’s Day, because I had an amazing boyfriend. I anticipated flowers, but got dumped instead.
It was without much warning and happened two days before Valentine’s Day. I was crushed. Then my friends did something that definitely had a positive impact on me, and I’ll always remember it. They surprised me at work with a huge bouquet of flowers and a group hug. The next day I also got flowers sent to me from my best friend from my hometown, and from my older sister.
At that point, it seemed a bit excessive because my desk was covered in flowers, but I was so grateful nonetheless for having such amazing people in my life.
32. A Grade-A Counselor
I am currently a high school senior, and the college application process was one of the most confusing processes of my entire life. As the oldest child in my family, and I had no idea what I was doing. I ended up going up to my counselor what felt like every other day, asking for her help and advice. When I was rejected from one of the schools I had applied to (CSULB), my counselor offered to help me make an appeals packet, and wrote me one of the most beautiful letters of recommendation I’ve ever seen.
A few months later, I was accepted into CSULB and I submitted my applications deposit. The very next day my mom and I went in with a card to personally thank my counselor for all her help and hard work. She was moved to tears, telling us how grateful she was we would take the time to tell her what happened, as she never hears from many of her students again. Just going in to see her made her entire week.
33. Simple Yet Big
My high school principal was ill, so they asked all the students to make cards for him. I took time to draw an elaborate card and write a little message inside instead of just slapping “Get well soon!” on a piece of paper like most other people did…not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just like to draw and wanted to do it my way.
A while later, might have been a couple of months, I honestly don’t remember, I got called out of class to go to the principal’s office. Couldn’t figure out what the hell I could have done to get in trouble….nope, turns out that he wanted to thank me personally for the card and give me a big hug. Told me it meant a lot to him and that he’d had it framed to put up in his office.
I was floored by the emotion this man showed over something I didn’t think much about. After that whenever we crossed paths he’d give me a big, acknowledging smile, and come graduation time when I crossed the stage and received my diploma, he put his hand on my shoulder and said “thank you” softly before sending me on my way and continuing.
I still remember the day he succumbed to his illness, he lived in the same neighborhood I did and I was out for a walk and saw the ambulance at his house and knew. It makes me happy to know that something so simple could mean so much to him, he was a great guy.
34. Paying Attention to Older People
A few months ago I saw an ad in the paper for a Befriending scheme where they needed volunteers to visit old people in their homes. It was aimed at helping older people who are lonely as they no longer have any relatives or friends left or are housebound. So I signed up. I now go every week to meet May, a 98-year-old (99 next week!) lady who lives near me.
She has no family and her husband passed away 14 years ago. We just chat, she tells me about her life and vice versa. We eat cake and I walk her dog. Yesterday as I was leaving she said “Thank you for the attention” and it broke my heart! She is an amazing lady and I am learning so much from her. At the minute I am studying for finals so the only socializing I do is when I go to see her.
I hope that just by me being there that she feels as if someone cares about her! It’s certainly had a big impact on me and I hope it has on her too.
35. Hospital Drawings
When I was little—around 5 or 6 years old—my grandfather was in the hospital for a somewhat extended time. He shared a room with another, older man. I visited my grandpa a couple of times, and would sing songs and stuff for him and the other guy. I drew several drawings for my grandpa to hang up in his room. I eventually noticed that the other man didn’t have any cards or drawings for his side of the room, so I drew him a “get well” card with a rainbow and everything.
My parents brought him the card, and they said that he was very happy to receive it. It was hanging up the next (and last) time I went to the hospital and saw the man. I didn’t think much of it at the time—as a little kid, I didn’t know the man was so sick, I just thought he was nice and I wanted to make him happy—but looking back on it and talking to my parents about it, I realized that the man didn’t have other visitors and was very lonely, and that my get well card probably meant a lot to him.
The man died a few days later. He’ll never know that the little girl from the hospital still remembers him 15 or so years later, but I hope that my card helped him feel loved at the end.
36. The Circle of Impact
When I was in high school, I was dealing with some pretty major family issues, so I wasn’t the happiest kid. I was pretty academically successful and I’m generally pretty good at hiding my emotional distress, so there were basically no signs that I was unhappy. My junior year, I took a creative writing class with a teacher who also happened to be my English teacher that year, and I got to know her pretty well.
One of the assignments she gave us in the creative writing class was to write a true/painful story. She promised not to read them; she just said that she thought it would be a helpful exercise in making us more emotionally open to writing. I thought it was kinda useless, but I ended up writing about my family. Writing that out actually helped me realize how broken my family was, and made me seek help in beginning to repair my family.
At the end of that year, she was going to India to teach girls who had escaped from forced prostitution with some educational group. I hadn’t really ever thanked her for her help, so I wrote her a letter, a SUPER long letter, that explained all the ways she’d helped me. I also compared her to famous literary/movie figures (McGonagall from Harry Potter, John Keating from The Dead Poet’s Society, etc.).
A few years later, about a month ago, she messaged me on Facebook to tell me that she uses the letter I wrote her as part of her resume and that’d she’d just gotten her dream job because the woman that hired her was looking for someone who she thought would be able to impact students the way she has impacted me.
37. The Homeless Man and his Dog
The other day, me and a few friends walked out of a Little Caesars pizza. I noticed one of the local homeless people who has the sweetest dog. I’ve talked to him a few times, he’s a pretty old, pretty cool dude. He kind of just prefers living like that. Him and his dog. So, I got all the change in my pocket and hand him some slices of pizza.
I asked him if my friends could play with his dog before we left. The man broke into tears. I look over into the little basket where he would keep his little dog, only to see a collar and a tattered picture. He said his dog died the day before. Some cruel punks came and pushed over his basket while he was sleeping and the dog ran into the street. Needless to say what happened next.
He thanked us all for listening to him and giving him some food. He now has another dog. And if you guys think giving homeless people money is wrong, at least this guy, I always see him feeding his dogs. Buying them treats and toys. The dog was always sheltered from the rainy days and strong sun rays. He’s a good guy who loves his dog in a confusing world that isn’t fair.
38. The Amazing Power of Kind Words
So my Spanish teacher is a really cool person. She goes around the school striking conversations with everyone, complimenting, and even talking about World of Warcraft. The teachers in my high school actually have their own guild. So one day she sees an old student walking alone across campus and she notices that the student looks pretty down.
She walks up to the student and says “Hey, what’s up? Why do you look so sad?” and they talk for a bit, the teacher giving her compliments about how well she did in her class, etc. It was just a conversation for my teacher. She talked to a student, was nice, etc., all like normal. Until two weeks later, when the student approached her after school. “Thank you, Mrs. [teacher]. When you came up to me and said hi, it made my day. The reason I looked so down was because I was going to kill myself that day. I just didn’t feel like my life was worth living because nobody cared about me or even knew I existed. But when you talked to me out of nowhere, you showed that you care. After that, I didn’t want to hurt myself anymore. So thank you, Mrs. [teacher]. If you hadn’t talked to me, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Needless to say, my teacher was stunned. However, she just brushed it off, saying that it’s what she always does and that it was nothing special. So now, that girl who was going to kill herself graduated and is in college. Our teacher tells that story every year to remind us to be kind and caring toward other people because you never know when you’re going to change someone’s life.
39. Checking the Professor’s Facebook
This guy is my Drawing 2 professor, and he takes his job very seriously. My skill level in drawing has completely changed since the beginning of the semester. The very first day in class, he says good morning and everyone gets quiet, because he looks like he’s about to start lecturing, and then he says “I love drawing. You don’t understand. I LOVE drawing.”
That really carried through in his class, and everyone that took it has really improved. So I wrote him a thank-you email after he sent me a summer reading list. Today, I was wasting time on Facebook and remembered that he strictly refused to add any of us. Naturally, that made me want to stalk his page. He had posted my email with the words “E-mail I got from a student, I really needed this.”
In the comments, his friends and family were all telling him how proud they are of him and stuff like that.
40. Digital Best Friend
I met my current best friend over a game. It was about 4 years ago, and we had been in a “clan” together. Eventually, the game got boring, but we would still talk to each other on a website that had a chat. Skip ahead 2 years, we hadn’t talked for a long while. I stumbled upon the chat and noticed he was online, which made us start talking again.
With that, we restarted the process of talking daily. After about a month or two of talking, he thanked me randomly. I asked him what for. Apparently, his mother had died from a heart attack (before we started talking again), and nothing was going right for him. He was attacked by gangs several times, his girlfriend’s parents died, and his father was becoming distant.
He told me I saved him from suicide, and that surprised me. I had no idea, since he talked to me as if nothing was wrong. Nowadays we talk over text or Xbox Live. He has proposed to his girlfriend, and has invited me to be his best man.
41. Ice Cream Memories
I have a very close family friend, that is about 84 years old now. He’s always telling me stories of his time in the Navy, and what it was like growing up in the 1930s. He would always point out places and talk about what they used to be, and all the different places he worked as a kid. Back then the kids would get odd jobs that paid 10-20 cents doing random stuff on the farms around town.
One time he told me that his favorite job on the farm was when he got to help make the ice cream. He went on for about an hour talking about it. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but a couple of months go by, and I’m at the mall doing my Christmas shopping, when I happened upon one of those $30 do it yourself ice cream makers.
So I think back to that story, and figure what the hell, and pick it up for him. Never bought him a Christmas present before, but it seemed like a good idea. So, I give it to him for Christmas, and tell him it reminded me of that story about making ice cream on the farm, and figured he could whip up some of his favorites. He instantly started crying and thanking me, saying it was the best gift he’s ever received.
I figure it must have really brought him back to his childhood. I just figured he could make ice cream again, I had no idea it would mean so much to him.
42. From Smoking Joints to Fixing Joints
I broke my arm very badly when I was six years old. It was so messed up that they almost amputated. We had just moved from CA to WA and didn’t have health insurance, so my grandfather put up his home as collateral for me to have the (at the time) very innovative reconstructive surgery. I now have a plastic joint, pins, and donor tissue. it’s a small miracle that my arm works at all.
Here’s what I didn’t know/remember. Only mom and I had moved. I remember dad had to stay behind for work (at the time he was a pretty popular recording artist), but that’s just what they had told me. They were actually separated. Dad didn’t want to quit music/drugs, and my mom wanted a cleaner, simpler life. When he got word that I had surgery he drove straight through to get to WA.
While here, he decided to stay and get a “real” job with health insurance. My broken arm led to my parent’s reconciliation, the end of my father’s music career, and eventually the end of his speed addiction.
43. Root Cause
When I lost my virginity, my girlfriend bled a lot, and took the blanket we were on (from a couch, not my bed) and tried to wash it before anyone found it. My Dad found it and asked me about it. Of course, I denied any knowledge of the semen/blood/sex sweat-stained blanket. Flash forward a few years and my parents are divorced.
Flash forward a few more years and my dad finally tells me the catalyst to their divorce. He found a blanket that someone had sex on and since it wasn’t mine or his, it had to be hers. I still haven’t told anyone. Basically, I caused my parents to divorce. For real.
44. Can’t Put a Price on Education
On September 14, 1986, my dad dropped me off at boarding school and gave me a five-dollar bill. I never heard from him again. He never paid my tuition bill. So, from the age of 14, I took every job I could get and worked my way through. At $4 an hour, I didn’t even come close to paying off my entire bill, but the school let me stick around because I was a model student in and out of the classroom.
We get to graduation. I opened my little diploma thing expecting to see a bill in five figures. Instead there was a note: “Congratulations on your graduation. A group of us who believe in you and love you have taken care of your bill. We are proud to present you with your diploma.” I later found out that one of my friend’s dad, a fairly well-off dentist, went fundraising among his golf buddies because he didn’t want to see me enter life at 18 under crushing debt.