Posted with permission of Tom Wrona
originally written on August 1, 2011
“My greatest accomplishment…
had nothing to do with my career.
Like many people who’ve led interesting lives I’ve had some moments of which I’m not so proud. But I’ve also accomplished many things of which I’m very proud. I’ve had a couple of books published that got great reviews from people who didn’t know me from Adam. I’ve written hundreds of articles, features, profiles, columns and reviews. I’ve taught thousands of students who gave me glowing evaluations. I served my country as a sailor in the Vietnam era.
But all of that is so much dust compared to my greatest accomplishment.
I taught a little girl not to cry when there was nothing to fear.
Some years back I dated a woman who had a little niece I’ll call Laura. I knew Laura from the time she was 18 months old until her third birthday. I adored her. My girlfriend once accused me of loving Laura more than I loved her and I never outright denied it. And Laura loved me back. She would get giddy with excitement when my girlfriend told her I was on my way over and even when she went through “the terrible twos” she always had kisses for me.
Like many small children Laura was easily startled by loud noises. A loud car or motorcycle roaring down the street would have her in tears in an instant and she would still be crying after the noise had died down.
One day my girlfriend, Laura and I had gone to lunch and were standing in the parking lot of a cheesesteak joint on Route 70 in southern New Jersey. Route 70 is a busy, crowded, six-lane highway lined with strip malls and fast food places. As we stood there I could hear the roar of an unmuffled motorcycle coming our way. I immediately looked down at Laura.
You know how a little kid’s face gets all scrunched up just seconds before they’re about to bawl? That was the look on Laura’s face. Suddenly, in a voice loud enough to drown out the approaching motorcycle I said, “Boy I hate loud motorcycles! Don’t you?” I had disrupted Laura’s imminent crying jag long enough for her to look up at me with her big brown eyes and nod her head in agreement.
As the motorcycle reached its maximum roar I raised my voice above it and said, “They’re just so inconsiderate!” Laura was now totally absorbed in what I was saying. “They don’t make me cry but I sure do find them annoying! Don’t you?” Laura nodded again. Not a tear in sight.
By now the sound of the motorcycle was Dopplering off into the distance and the crisis had abated. “I’m glad that’s over. How annoying,” I said with scorn in my voice. Laura’s eyes were still glued to mine. After a moment she smiled. And she never cried at loud cars and motorcycles again.
I’ve never done anything more important, or more gratifying.”
(c) 2011 Tom Wrona – republished with permission
Thanks Tom! It’s the seemingly trivial things which often leave a mark on our lives. They make us stop and think. Thank you for sharing it with us.
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