When William Stidger taught at Boston University, he once reflected upon the great number of un-thanked people in his life. Those who had helped nurture him, inspire him or who cared enough about him to leave a lasting impression.
One was a schoolteacher he'd not heard of in many years. But he remembered that she had gone out of her way to put a love of verse in him, and Will had loved poetry all his life. He wrote a letter of thanks to her.
The reply he received, written in the feeble scrawl of the aged, began, "My dear Willie." He was delighted. Now over 50, bald and a professor, he didn't think there was a person left in the world who would call him "Willie." Here is that letter:
"My dear Willie,
I cannot tell you how much your note meant to me. I am in my eighties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely and, like the last leaf of autumn, lingering behind. You will be interested to know that I taught school for 50 years and yours is the first note of appreciation I ever received. It came on a blue-cold morning and it cheered me as nothing has in many years."
Not prone to cry easily, Bill wept over that note. She was one of the great un-thanked people from Bill's past. You know them. We all do. The teacher who made a difference. That coach we'll never forget. The music instructor or Sunday school worker who helped us to believe in ourselves. That scout leader who cared.
We all remember people who shaped our lives in various ways. People whose influence changed us. Bill Stidger found a way to show his appreciation – he wrote them letters.
Who are some of the un-thanked people from your past? It may not be too late to say, "Thanks."