Sometimes we get a wake-up call from out of the blue. Mine came within an email, from a woman named Pat.
Here's her email:
I found your website but for other reasons. I just learned I have brain cancer. It is inoperable. I was an active, productive teacher of children (grades 3 and 4) and suddenly realize I am having difficulty doing simple things. Gosh, that sucks.
I made good, sound educational decisions and now my brain has trouble doing little things.
You're young and your life is ahead of you. I'm looking back and I see so many regrets. And I shouldn't because I did a lot of good things. I taught a generation of students, I influenced a generation. But I'm looking, glaring at the few errors I did make. Like, why didn't I make better financial decisions? Why do I hold on to past regrets? I am a child of an alcoholic and I can't get past that? Why?
I have no idea why I am writing these thoughts to a complete stranger, but I am. Maybe because a complete stranger may have an answer. And who knows? You may never even look at your own website. But I needed to write and get it on paper.
Any way. Have a good life. And I have a feeling you make a difference in a lot of people's lives.
- From someone in NYS.
I saved Pat's email but didn't follow up. That was back in late 2008. It was one of those things that make an impact for me. And why, after receiving hundreds of emails about the Bucket Quiz, that I decided to keep it going, and even to create the present website. Pat didn't even see this latest incarnation, but saw the previous version of the Quiz.
Pat battled her cancer until June, 2009 and then passed away. I wasn't aware at the time but in writing about her email, I discovered this news, almost three years later.
Pat didn't know exactly why she bothered to write me that email. But perhaps by publishing it now, others can appreciate what Pat saw, and turn to live life to the fullest. Rest in peace, Pat - you continue to teach others even today.