This Woman Just Took Thankfulness to a Whole New Level

It’s easy to lose sight of the most important t-word of the holiday season: thankfulness.

Somewhere between last-minute grocery runs, all-day football games and a “Black Friday” tradition that has officially crossed the border into Thanksgiving night, we’ve let go of the grateful spirit that makes this time of year so special.

Rather than prattle on about the physical and mental merits of appreciating the good things in life—of which there are many—here’s the story of one woman whose display of gratitude can serve as an inspiration for all of us.

Teachers support inspires incredible act of gratitude

When Marty Hayes, the choir teacher at Kimball High School in Dallas, Texas rescued a bored 15-year-old girl from study hall, she had no idea the impact that one act would have on both of their lives.

That 15-year-old’s name was Carolyn; she wasn’t a singer, but that didn’t matter to Marty. “She let me sing my heart out, even though she knew it wasn’t one of my talents,” Carolyn told Marc Ramirez, a staff writer for Dallas News (Read the full story here). “You could just make a joyful noise—it didn’t have to be a beautiful noise.”

Marty’s support during the typically turbulent teen years inspired Carolyn to pursue a career in education herself.
35 years after their first meeting, Carolyn decided to check in on her former mentor and tell her how much their relationship had meant to her. She wanted to thank the woman who had changed her life.

But the woman Carolyn found was not who she had expected. Marty had been diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia, a form of progressive cognitive decline marked by hallucinations, drowsiness, disorientation and Parkinson-like motor symptoms. She also had diabetes.

Carolyn and her husband were determined to help. Marty had no husband or children to care for her, so the couple started helping the older woman with her bills and important paperwork. They regularly drove the half-hour commute to check in on Marty in her home.

But as Marty’s condition deteriorated, periodic visits weren’t enough to keep her safe, so Carolyn and her husband welcomed Marty into their home and have become her de facto family caregivers.

Marty is overwhelmed by their gesture of love and gratitude. She views her support of teenage Carolyn as part of her responsibility to a fellow human being. “I believe that’s one of the reasons we’re all here. To encourage each other,” she says.

What have your mentors inspired you to achieve? When was the last time you reached out and thanked them?

Related
How Being Grateful Makes You Healthier
20 Ways to Say ‘Thank You’
How the World’s Oldest Woman Spent Her Last Day
The Best Way to Support a Caregiving Spouse
12 Ways to Make the Holiday Season Better for an Elderly Loved One
How to Keep Relationships Strong While Caregiving

Image credit: Kye R. Lee Dallas News

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

100 comments

Bea W.
Bea Wilson1 years ago

A touching story. So inspiring. If people all over the world would do one kind act, or say a kind word, it would lift up the spirit of someone.

Donna Ferguson
Donna F.2 years ago

my life utterly changed for the better when I began to focus on Gratitude!

Jeramie D.
Jeramie D.2 years ago

This is such a wonderful story. Thank you.

Jenna Summers
Jennifer B.2 years ago

Still this is a beautiful, touching, and inspiring story. Its nice to see people give back. This Carolyn sounds like a wonderful person, as does the woman who changed her life.

Jenna Summers
Jennifer B.2 years ago

I dont understand why the concept of being thankful only seems to apply during the holidays. We should be thankful for what we have every second of every day!

Dave C.
Dave C.2 years ago

thank you again...wonderful inspirational.....

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Christine Little
Christine Little2 years ago

That's amazing! It just goes to show that giving, even seemingly small gifts can have an enormous impact. Love this.

Dale O.

A fabulous and interesting story. Mentors are wonderful and inspirational. There are many teachers out there who give their time and give hope to many students. Sometimes mentors come where one least expects it. Animals can also be mentors, especially to children suffering from bullying and other forms of abuse or those who have lost loved ones.

Deborah W.
Deborah W.2 years ago

Stories like this are great, as all here acknowledge. QUESTION: In your own space, do you (or have you) ever had such life-changing friends and/or family, not just acquaintances that pass through and are gone, but REAL people who stay/stayed when the going gets tough?

If you do, you're one of the lucky ones ... give proper thanks and pay it forward so another, somewhere, somehow, sometime feels the love and may be able to do the same.

If you don't, keep involved in life and keep an open mind. Payback comes when least expected and each day is brand new, filled with what's possible. Lead by example, NEVER quit trying -- sometimes the final straw is the game-changer.

TDid you happen to notice that this story is one of the few, anywhere in media, that promotes the true meaning of THANKSgiving rather than the GREED STAMPEDE we've come to know. (I get that for the struggling Black Friday and all its hype might just be their main chance for affordable purchases and a holiday like they once knew and would like to share with their kids. To the rest who don't need (but think they do) more, and camp out, replacing or shortening the meaning of family/friend-share, shame for interferring in their space -- it's not a game. Get a life with more meaning than additional stuff, can't take it with when you go. Accumulation of stuff should never define who you are, the sum total of your worth. You really are better than that.