The Power of Thank You
Summer of 2020 is behind us, loneliness still abounds, and I continue to miss our friends and family in spite of technology that is meant to keep us connected. Today I was reading a story of volunteers who write letters to people living in nursing homes isolated from their loved ones and to doctors and nurses on the front lines. Their simple acts of kindness made me feel encouraged and hopeful.
That story took me back to the home of my friend and mentor Laura Carmichael. Her desk was always filled with note cards, rolls of stamps and a sharp set of sheers, a City Directory (this is an old-timey book of names and addresses of everyone who lived in the city), a telephone book (another old-timey artifact that had phone numbers and addresses), and her coveted address book. For more than 60 years Mrs. Carmichael would clip pictures of the brides from the Sunday paper (remember those?!) and mail the copy with a congratulatory note to the bride and her mother.
Laura didn’t know these people but as she would say, “when my mother died someone clipped her obituary from the paper and mailed it to me, and it meant so much”. Each month elementary school students selected as “Students of the Month” would receive a crisp $1 bill (remember those?) with a congratulatory note from Laura. She did this out of the goodness of her heart, to bring a little joy to another.
Mrs. Laura’s thank you notes were as famous as her peanut brittle and she shared both widely. Laura became a widow in her 60’s had no children and no family. On her 100th birthday, she declared her newspaper clipping days were over and stuck with just the thank you notes. She died at age 101 and her funeral at the First Baptist Church where she had been a member for 80+ years was filled to the brim; TV cameras and reporters were documenting the passing of a community treasure. All because she reached out to strangers and said, “thank you” or “I appreciate you” or “Congratulations” never expecting anything in return. She was one of the most joyful people I have ever known.
“Thank you” is a simple and powerful prayer. The receiving of it lifts up another, the giving of it lifts up the giver. Do something today to lift up another, even something as small yet powerful as saying Thank You.