Who Helped Build You?

We all have them. People we met during our impressionable years that made an impact on our lives. Those rare souls that influenced our major life decisions without even realizing that they were doing it. Special people that came into our paths, beyond the obvious family members. I know that I have a few. People that helped shape and build me without even knowing that they made such an impact on my life. I fully realize that there are many, many people who grew up with horrible adult influences in their lives, but this post is about the good in humanity.

When I look back on my growing up years, several people come to mind. The kindly bus driver that delivered a big basket of fruit to my house when I was out sick with the Chickenpox in second grade. My sweet neighbor and Godmother that patiently taught me how to sew and emphasized that the most important thing was pressing as you went. (She was right.) Then there was gentle, kindhearted Father Jennings. I grew up Catholic and my mom would invite this “elderly” priest (he was probably only in his 60’s… smile) over for a homemade dinner every so often. He gave me a huge box of Almond Joy bars when I was out sick with pneumonia as a kid. That was unheard of because the only sweets we had growing up were homemade. When all of the issues came up with the priests in the Catholic church, his friendship helped me to know that there were also a lot of Godly, kind priests out there that would never abuse a child. These adults that came into my young life gave me faith in mankind. They helped me believe that I was worthy of kindness and love, without having to earn it. But one person stands out in particular.

Let me give you a little background first

From the time you can talk, people constantly ask what you want to be when you grow up. I would confidently explain to them that I was going to be a model. Well that never panned out, for obvious reasons. By high school, I had reasonably narrowed my focus a little more. I decided that I wanted to be either a journalist, an interior decorator or a boss lady that worked in business. It did not matter what business as long as I could wear fashionable suits and heels to work every day. When I made the obligatory visit to the high school counselor to discuss a career path, she quickly squashed my idea of being an interior decorator. There were just not enough jobs in that field she explained. Wet banket.

That left journalism or business. I figured that I would need typing skills for either of these career paths, so I took an elective business course my junior year of high school. Never mind that the course included how to take dictation by hand and was geared more to being a secretary (that is what we called them back then) than a boss lady. The best thing about this course was that they would help place you in a part-time job to apply your new skills. I was given the opportunity to work in a local ophthalmologist’s office to type and file patient records. It was a huge step up from taking food orders and making ice cream cones at Topper Too, although I really enjoyed that job. Working as a file girl at an office was a big girl job!

Ophthalmologists, with their vast knowledge, framed medical degrees and certifications on the wall, can feel very intimidating to a naive teenager. The founder and owner of the clinic was Dr. Toyama. He was a smart, kind, gentle man. He and the staff took me under their wings and kept giving me increasing responsibilities until eventually I was promoted from a file clerk to an ophthalmic assistant. I continued to work there through high school, but I had to quit when I left for college. However, Dr. T generously allowed me to work there in the summer when I was home from college. Looking back, I am quite sure they did not need my vital assistance but were just helping me out with college expenses. That is the kind of person Dr. T was.

The year I went off to college, I sold my car. So, when I worked at the clinic that summer, my mom would give me a ride there and my dad would pick me up afterwards on his motorcycle. I think we made quite the scene with me in my white uniform and helmet puttering down the road. Did I mention that my dad is a fun saint?

I clearly remember one day when they were training me in the minor surgery room to assist with a simple removal of a cyst on an eyelid. Dr. T made a clean, precise cut on the lid when suddenly the room got fuzzy, and I dropped down to the floor with a thud. I recall waking up to the whiff of an ammonia capsule under my nose and Dr. T smiling. He never let me forget that experience. Nor the fact that I did not faint when I observed Dr. W doing a minor surgery the week before.

Their kind influence, encouragement, and positive exposure to the healthcare field is what made me to decide to become a nurse. Well, that and the fact that I took a beginning accounting class my first two weeks of college and promptly dropped it when I realized I hated working with numbers. So much for being the business boss lady. I ended up trading business suits and heels for scrubs and white Crocks and never looked back, all because of Dr. T and some wonderful ladies that worked for him.

Thank you Dr. T

This morning, while scanning the obituaries in our small city paper, I read that Dr. T passed away at the age of 98. My heart sank as I reminisced on what a great man he was and what he did for me. He was one of the good ones. The obituary said that he was a World War II veteran. I never knew that. As a self-absorbed teenager I never thought to ask him about his life. Several years ago, I sent him a note and thanked him for his kindness and influence in my life. But I wish I had another chance to say, thank you for being the kind of man, and doctor, that changed a young, insecure teenager’s life for the better. So today, I shed a few tears for the loss of a great man. And I vowed, in a world full of sharp edges, to be that positive influence for younger people. Who helped build you or influenced your career choice? If they are still alive, be sure to take the opportunity to thank them while you still can.

On the home front

We are busy getting ready for Easter around here. We host an extended family brunch and egg hunt on our property. My mom started the tradition years ago when her grandkids were small. Now they are hiding eggs for their own kids. It has grown to about 35 people. It is wonderful, fun chaos. The stuff that family memories are made of for the kids and their cousins.

And in case you have not noticed…it is March Madness baby! Our beloved Zags have made it to the “Sweet 16” for the 9th time in a row. We are excited to watch them play Purdue next weekend. Gonzaga (aka Zags) played Purdue earlier this year and lost by 10, so it will be a fun match up. Mr. U and I made the five-hour drive over to Seattle to watch that game in November.

I hope you have a great week and go Zags!

8 comments on “Who Helped Build You?

  1. Thank you for this post. It is very well written AND it has reminded me who these people are in my life. Because of your post I am now planning to contact those wonderful individuals and tell them what their influence has meant to me. Enjoy your Easter and the special time with your family.

    1. Hi Don –

      I am so glad that this post prompted you to reach out to those that helped build you. All four of the people mentioned in my post have passed (I wonder what that says about my age?!?) Unfortunately, I only thanked two of them and wish I had told all of them.

    1. Hi Janis –

      Sadly, I always think I will do it later…until it is too late. Thanks for stopping by and have a Happy Easter!


  2. Hi Marian! Happy Belated Easter. I’m sure your day was magical. And thank you for the reminder to remember and thank all the people that helped us be us. It is sort of the way it is with our parents huh? There are so many things I wish I could ask and tell them that it never occurred to me to do while they were still alive. Today would be a good day to look back over my life and take the time to reach out and touch those who are still around. ~Kathy

    1. Hi Kathy –

      Belated happy Easter to you! I was so grateful for the beautiful sunshine we had on Sunday. This was the second Easter since my mom passed. My sister and I were talking about whether we told her enough how much we appreciated all she did and the holiday traditions she created. My sister gave us a 75%.😊 (She was a schoolteacher-what can I say.) It is easy to let those thoughts slip away unmentioned, particularly with our parents. I need to tell my 96-year-old dad that more too, while I can. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Thank you again for making Easter so special. 🐣 We had a delightful time and it was fun being a part of the chaos❣️

    1. Hi Janie –

      Easter was fun. BTW – thanks for being one of the people that helped build me!

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