She and I struck up a conversation prior to my scheduled presentation at a Rotary Club (proud to be a Rotarian) at which I was going to share thoughts and stories regarding effecting change. One of the components of my message is that in life one should always “play your heart out.” To do so helps make for a wonderful life. Little did I know her role in the message until we engaged in genuine conversation.
She worked in the kitchen at the church where the meeting was held. A luncheon meeting, attendees were to gather their plates of burgers and beans, and then go to the gathering area for the meeting. It was in the latter area where she stood, along with other women from the church who pointed out where the drinks and condiments were, carried dessert for those who hands were full with a plate full of burger and beans, and generally make everyone feel welcome. Clearly, her heart and soul were made for service and for smiles; the evidence was overwhelming.
One comment led to another, and before long I had learned of her high school teaching career of more than 40 years, including a variety of subjects. She challenged me to guess which ones. I guessed one, she nodded, but then quipped, “You’ll never guess the other.” I guessed and guessed, egged on by her smile and by her pride in my failure. I surrendered. She paused and grilled me with a couple more questions while also providing hints (“What color are my eyes?” she asked) to stimulate my thinking processes. I thought she must have been a master with pop quizzes and the Socratic method of teaching.
“German,” she said, clarifying the mystery. The answer, of course, spawned new questions and she obviously enjoyed the give and take. She was…playing her heart out.
The conversation became a bit more philosophical as she reviewed the path that life has taken her and “how life goes.” There were twists and turns, ups and downs, surprises and predictability…such is life.
More Rotarians began to show up, serving as a call to duty. She said that she needed to get back to her work, reiterating how much she enjoyed the work, the journey…and, “How wonderful is life.”