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Old 12-20-2005, 09:02 PM   #1
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About Mark.

He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in
Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one
in a million. Very neat in appearance, but had that happy-to-be-alive
attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness delightful.
Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking
without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though,
was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving -
"Thank you for correcting me, Sister!" I didn't know what to make of it at
first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.
One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often,
and then I made a novice-teacher's mistake. I looked at Mark and said, "If
you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!"
It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking again."
I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had
stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it.
I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my
desk, very deliberately opened by drawer and took out a roll of masking
tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off two pieces
of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the
front of the room.
As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it!!
I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark's desk,
removed the tape, and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, "Thank
you for correcting me, Sister."
At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years
flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more
handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to
instruction in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he
had in third. One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard
on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning,
frustrated with themselves and edgy with one another.
I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them
to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper,
leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest
thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It
took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as
the students left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie smiled.
Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend."
That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of
paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On
Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class
was smiling. "Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything
to anyone!" "I didn't know others liked me so much." No one ever mentioned
those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class
or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished
its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again.
That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from
vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother
asked me the usual questions about the trip - the weather, my experiences in
general. There was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a side-ways
glance and simply says, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually
did before something important.
"The Eklund's called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I haven't
heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is."
Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The funeral
is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend."
To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me
about Mark. I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark
looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, Mark I
would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me.
The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister sang "The Battle
Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It
was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers,
and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk
by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water.
I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the
soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's math
teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. "Mark
talked about you a lot," he said.
After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's
farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting
for me. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet
out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought
you might recognize it."
Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper
that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew
without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the
good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.
"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see,
Mark treasured it."
Mark's classmates started to gather around us.
Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in
the top drawer of my desk at home."
Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."
"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her
wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this
with me at all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think we
all saved our lists."
That's when I finally sat down and cried.
Written by: Sister Helen P. Mrosla

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Old 12-21-2005, 04:43 AM   #2
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have you ever seen the musical HAIR?

long time ago maybe, right?
go borrow it on dvd - you will like it.

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Old 12-21-2005, 04:51 AM   #3
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ive seen that story before.
its wonderful thanks for postin it broheim
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Old 02-01-2006, 07:34 AM   #4
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I'm sorry if I appear a bit rude (I don't mean to), but wot's this got to do with u2?

Don't get me wrong, I really liked the story, and it did touch me.
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