Copyright © Louis Schmier

Date: Thu 3/9/2006 2:29 AM
Random Thought: A Chance Meeting

I was walking down the sterile, colorless, and depressing hall in the hospital towards the room in which my 84 year old mother-in-law was slowly recovering from severe flu induced pneumonia. For a few seconds, however, tears of joy were filling my eyes. I wiped away the one or two that overflowed my lids and were running down my cheek. I pushed the door open and went in to share with Susan what had just happened.

I had been leaning on the counter at the nurse's, station kidding around with my mother-in-law's floor nurse, Libby, to get my mind off what was going on in Room 516 and to recharge my depleted battery. A floor nurse from another wing came up close to me. I turned my head towards her. She looked straight at me with a delightful, almost impish, smile. She had a twinkle in her eye as if she was about to spring a trap. And, she did. "Still using triads and journals to help students learn about life and history?" I looked at her stunned. Knowing she had gotten the better of me, she asked, "Do you remember me?"

"No," I answered as I started an intense gaze at her, "but doggone if you don't you looked familiar. I think I'm supposed to know you."

She introduced herself. Her name didn't ring a bell. She reminded me that she had been a non-traditional student in our class twelve years ago when I was beginning to apply in the classroom the life lessons I was learning from the inner journey set off by my epiphany.

"My god," I quietly said. "that's been a while back." I still didn't specifically remember who she was. She was making me feel old. Then, suddenly, a long lost memory jumped into my head and I felt a wave of youthful exuberance sweep over me. I remembered her journal entries as if I had just read them a few minutes ago in which she had poured out her heart. Now it was my turn to broadside her. "I remember you now. You wrote about.....We used to talk about....."

"Yes!" she was no less surprised than was I. "After all these years you remember. Isn't that something....I struggled with a line or two at first as if I didn't want to read what I had to write, and then I started pouring out my heart. It was as if I couldn't stop. I had to get a lot out about......."

"That was the first quarter I tried student journaling. It was on a voluntary basis in those days. Yours was one of those that convinced me to keep using them and make them a requirement so I could get to know each student.....You know, for whatever reason, I kept most of the journals from those early years. They're hidden away in two file cabinets. Since they weren't cluttering up the floor in my office, I've left them sitting there doing nothing all these years. Every now and then I thought of chucking them, but something always stopped me. I figured they weren't doing any harm. So, I left them alone. I still may have yours stuffed away there..... I'll check to see if I still have yours and I'll send it to you....."

"That was some class. "That was some class. The triads, group open quizzes, discussions, the projects, and especially you and climate you created for each student to grow.....It took all the hesitation and doubt about myself out of me....It helped me see I was not too stupid to become a nurse as I had been told by.....You helped me find the answers to my questions about what I was doing there.....It was a defining experience. And, as time passed, I realized more and more that you were the defining teacher to me.....You've been with me ever since, inspiring and motivating me to know there isn't anything I can't do....I'm thinking about going back to school soon to get more education so maybe I can teach and prepare future nurses....It's all about touching people, isn't helped and touched me and now I help and touch others....I'm a good nurse because of what you helped me teach myself..... I glad I happened to be on this floor at this moment and had a chance to tell you this....Go figure. I guess sometimes you just don't ask about such things."

We chit-chatted for a few minutes as she told me about herself and I told her about myself and how the class has been evolving. Then, she hugged me and whispered a soft, "I never thanked you. Now's the time. 'Thank you.' Keep doing what you're doing."

Thinking I had just passed what my good friend, Don Fraser, calls "the five year test," I returned the hug. "In those days, when I was wondering, you helped me know that I was not wasting my time. You're one of those who convinced me to keep at it. And, now you're doing it again. It's my turn to thank you."

Have you ever been so happy that you cried? Remember the sheer happiness that swelled up inside your body. Is there anything more powerful? More reassuring? More affirming? More inspiring? More motivating? I'm sure most of you don't have to imagine it. I'm sure all of you have had the chance to feel that way. If you have, you know what I mean when I say in those moments, in that place, I felt: happy, humble, and blessed. I still do.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

Return to The Complete Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Return to the Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier