"an interesting story" joke

Written by: Sister Helen P. Mrosia
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
mischieviousness 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
Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice-teacher's mistake.
looked at him and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape
mouth shut!" It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark
talking again." I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch
but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to
on it. I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I
walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll
of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk,
off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I
returned to the front of the room. As I glanced at Mark to see how he
doing he winked at me. That did it! I started laughing. The class
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
my instructions in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade
as he had in the third. One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We
worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students
frowning, frustrated with themselves - and edgy with one another. I had
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,
a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest
they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.
It took the remainder of the class period to finish the 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
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
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
about the trip - the weather, my experiences in general. There was a
light 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
"The Eklunds called last night," he began. "Really?" I said. "I
heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is." Dad responded
"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
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,
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 had 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
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
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
drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put
this in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her
wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry
with me at all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think
all saved our lists." That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried
for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again. The
purpose of this letter is to encourage everyone to compliment the people
you love and care about. We often tend to forget the importance of
our affections and love. Sometimes the smallest of things, could mean
most to another. I am asking you, to please send this letter around
and spread the message and encouragement, to express your love and
by complimenting and being open with communication. The density of people
in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And
don't know when that one day will be. So please, I beg of you, to tell
people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell
them, before it is too late. I leave these messages with you and ask you
to continue to spread the message to everyone you know.
^l^ May Peace Prevail on Earth^l^

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