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.
Teacher‘s 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?
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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