While we were at dinner last night, one of the discussion points was about our favorite teachers growing up. I gave my answer, and will put my favorite teacher at the top of today's list. I wanted to write a list about ten people who were grown ups when I was a kid that had an impact on my life. These are people who are not family. I don't know if I am ready to be that transparent yet.
1. Mrs. Hageman - Whenever anyone asks the question about who my favorite teacher is, the answer is super easy. I was going through a lot in 4th and 6th grades when she was my teacher. And when I was the after school sweeper at the school in later years. I know that I was not the most dedicated student. I was pretty well behaved I guess, but I was not very consistent at getting my work in. I missed a lot of school for... ahem, 'being sick'. Yet, despite all of those things I always knew that Mrs. Hageman cared and that made a huge difference to me. It was more than just caring though. She had a genuine interest in me. When I was working at the school and I would be cleaning her classroom, she would always ask me questions. She made me feel important, which to my recollection was somewhat of a rare occurrence. That feeling stayed with me and gave me confidence as I started looking at what I wanted to do with my life. Now that I work in education, I try to model Mrs. Hageman's skill of being genuinely interested in others. In fact I would dare to say that if I have had an influence in the life of a young person over the years, it is a direct result of the influence that she had on me years ago. One billion thank yous.
2. Miguel Chavez - A few years ago the restaurant that I worked at went out of business. It was a sad day. Much of who I am today came from the experiences that I had working at Rafael's during high school and after my mission. A friend from those days stated it correctly when he said that we 'hit the teenage lottery'. We were like a family, always hanging out after work, helping each other through hard times, and marrying each other. There are quite a few love interests at the restaurant that turned into wonderful families. Michelle and I are not one of those families. Our story is awesome though. Anyway, we still get together from time to time to catch up and reminisce about the good days. That atmosphere was facilitated by Miguel. I don't even know if I can put into words how influential he was in my life, as a boss, young mens leader, and friend. If there is anyone who genuinely wants to help people it was Miguel. And I must thnk him for not firing Cory and I when we were up to our shenanigans... which was always. Oh, and thanks for offering to give us a ride home that day when we were walking home and it was snowing. Even though we didn't take it.
3. Larry Fullmer - He was our home teacher. Some families don't really need a home teacher. Growing up, ours did. And Larry came every month. We were pretty bratty sometimes, but he came. We knew he loved our family. As a member of the bishopric he would go on lots of scout camps. He would ask us to try to make him grunt by punching him in the stomach. He never did. He had this cd called Round Up that had some cow sounds at the beginning. He would let us play it full blast with the windows down as we drove through town. We thought we were pretty funny. He was the model of consistency in living the gospel. Recently he fixed up my shoulder and it is good as new. It was awesome to catch up with him and to hear that he is now the bishop of a singles ward. Which I think would be the best, and worst, calling in the church.
4 & 5. Bishop Stradley & Bishop Gregory - I think that a young man growing up and preparing to serve a mission develops an affinity to the bishops that help them through the process. I drive by the church that I went to when I was a kid, almost every day. I remember many conversation that happened in the office that was in the northwest corner of the building. I remember that these two men talked me through some crisis situations. Well, I thought they were crisis at the time. Thanks for being patient with me.
6 & 7. Enrique Velasquez and Spencer Blake - I was basically in my last year of community college when I started to take school seriously. There is a saying that the mentor will show up when the mentee is ready. It was true in the case of these men. Enrique Velasquez had the ability to know what you were thinking just by looking at you. He was one of the best persons that I have ever known at reading people. He took an interest in me after he told a joke in class and I put my head down for the last 40 minutes of class and laughed non-stop. We were pretty much opposites about political views and well, almost everything. But we had some great conversations that got me thinking about things in different ways. I have also tried to develop his skill of awareness, but I call it my 'psychic ability'.
Spender Blake kept talking to me after class and would tell me how smart I was and ask me tons of questions and then help me work through the answers. He might have been the first person that I remember verbalizing that he thought I could accomplish a lot in life. Yeah, I think that was where I started to believe it.
8, 9, & 10 - Steve & Penny Allison, Kay & Debbie Alldredge, and Larry & Becky Curtis - These are the parents of some of my best friends during high school. I could write a whole post on each of these families and the impact that they had on my life. But for now I will say that they probably had the biggest impact on me of this list, because they impacted the family that I have now. Each of these families often invited me into their homes. My own family was somewhat dysfunctional while I was a teenager. And, I was a teenager. So I may not have been super easy to be a parent or a sibling to. During that time I appreciated being welcomed into homes where the families, though not perfect, were strong examples of what I wanted my future family to be like. I don't think they knew that I was watching them as parents. Especially the dads. Having not grown up with a dad, I watched how they treated their wives and their kids. I made mental notes and made decisions about how I was going to treat my wife and kids. And I still try to live up to those examples. Michelle and I also do our best to make our home open to the youth that we know. We want to emulate what the Allison, the Alldredge, and the Curtis families did for me during my time as a teenager.
That felt good getting all of that gratitude out. Who are the adults that impacted your life when you were a kid?