He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary’s School in Morri Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million1). Very neat in appearance, he had that happy-to-be-alive2) attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness3) delightful.
Mark often talked incessantly4). 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 of5) it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.
One morning my patience was growing thin6) when Mark talked once too often7), and then I made a novice8)-teacher’s mistake. I looked at him and said, “If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!”
It wasn’t ten seconds later when Chuck, another student, blurted out9), “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 clas I had to act on10) 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 tape11). Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark’s desk, tore off12) 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. When I walked back to Mark’s desk and removed the tape, his first words were, “Thank you for correcting me, Sister.”
接下來的一幕我至今仍記憶猶新，仿佛就發生在今天早上。我走到講桌前，不慌不忙拉打開抽屜，拿出一卷膠帶，然后一言不發地走到馬克桌前，撕下兩截膠帶，在他嘴上貼了個大大的“X”，然后轉身走回教室前面。我瞟了瞟馬克看他有什么反應，結果看到他朝我眨了眨眼睛。而當我回到馬克桌前給他撕下膠帶時，他說的第一句話便是：“謝謝你指出我的問題，修女?！?br /> One Friday, I asked the students 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 remainder13) of the class period to finish the assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the paper.
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 the whispers. “I never knew that meant anything to anyone!” “I didn’t know others liked me so much!” Then Mark said, “Thank you for teaching me, Sister.”
星期六的時候，我分別把每位同學的名字各寫在一張紙上，然后把其他同學對他的評價列在上面。到了星期一，我把各人的單子分發給他們。很快全班同學臉上都揚起了笑容?！罢嬗羞@么好?”我聽見有人輕聲說?！拔覐牟恢滥菚e人有意義!”還有人說：“原來大家這么喜歡我啊!”而馬克說：“修女，感謝你的教導?！?br /> No one ever mentioned those pieces of paper in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents.
Soon I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by14), and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome and more polite than ever. Maybe since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the “new math15)”, he did not talk as much in the ninth grade as he had in the third.
That group of students moved on.
Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. Mother gave Dad a side-ways16) glance and simply said, “Dad?” My father cleared his throat as he usually did before saying something important. “The Eklunds 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 Vietnam17),” he said. “The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend.”
幾年后的一天，我度假歸來，父母來機場接我。媽媽斜斜地瞟了爸爸一眼，只說了兩個字：“她爸?”爸爸清了清嗓子——但凡有要事宣布，他都會這樣。他說：“?？寺〖易蛲泶蛄藗€電話過來?！薄笆菃?”我說，“好幾年沒他們的消息了，不知道馬克怎么樣了?！卑职州p聲地回答道：“馬克在越戰中犧牲了，葬禮在明天舉行。他父母希望你能去參加?！?br /> I had never seen a serviceman18) in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature.
After the funeral, Mark’s mother and father found me. “We want to show you something,” his father said. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.” Opening a billfold19), he carefully removed two worn and frazzled20) pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the pieces of paper were the ones on which I had listed all the good things that Mark’s classmates had said about him. “Thank you so much for doing that.” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark behaved better and better at school. It’s all because of you and your list.”
葬禮結束后，馬克的父母找到了我?！拔覀兿虢o您看一樣東西，”他爸爸說，“馬克犧牲的時候他們在他身上找到了這個。我們想您可能認得?！彼蜷_皮夾，小心翼翼地取出兩張破損不堪的筆記本紙。很明顯，這兩張紙用膠帶補過、反復折疊過。不用看我也知道，這就是當初那兩張紙，我當時把馬克的同學們對他的表揚都寫在了上面?！澳龅倪@些，我們感激不盡，”馬克的媽媽說，“您也看到了，馬克在學校里的表現越來越好。這都歸功于您和您的這張單子?！?br /> Mark’s classmates started to gather around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly21) 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 this in our wedding album.” “I have mine too,” Marilyn said. “It’s in my diary.” Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook22), took out her wallet and showed her worn list to the group. “I carry this with me at all time” Vicki said without batting an eyelash23). “I think we all saved our lists.”
這時，馬克的同學們也圍了過來。查利靦腆地笑著說：“這張單子我現在還保留著，就在我家書桌最上面的抽屜里?！辈榭说钠拮诱f：“查克讓我把這個放在我們的結婚紀念冊里?！薄拔业囊苍?，”瑪麗蓮說，“就在我日記本里?！苯又?，另一個同學維姬從手提袋里取出錢包，給大家看那張已經磨損了的紙?！拔乙恢卑堰@個帶在身上，”維姬眼睛一眨不眨地說，“我想我們都保存著自己的單子?！?br /> That’s when I finally sat down and cried.
Sometimes the smallest things could mean the most to others. The density of people in society is so thick that we forget life will end one day and we don’t know when that one day will be. Compliment the people you love and care about, before it is too late.