Thank you Mr. Wilson

I don’t think there is enough gratitude shown in this world. At a recent interview, an HR director followed up on a remark I made. I claimed that one of my strengths is staff mentoring. I am an effective mentor and I enjoy it. I am good at identifying people’s strengths and helping them overcome their perceived barriers. I love it when they succeed. I often have people state to me that I have had a great influence on their life and on their professional career. They gratefully tell me that they have never experienced someone like me who took the time to bring out the best in them. The HR director asked me “what if you don’t get those accolades, can you handle that?”

“Yes I can.”

In fact, after many, many years of doing what I do best, I have long gotten over the disappointment of not having someone fawn over me for the wonderful thing I have done for them. Of course, I am being facetious because in order to be an effective mentor, you have to proceed with zero expectations of reciprocity or gratitude. Very few will give you back what you gave to them.  At least that will be your perception of what giving back means. The reward is the satisfaction of what you contribute.

This brings me to Mr. Wilson. Tom Wilson was a grade school teacher at Forest Glade Elementary school. From my vantage point, he was a man’s man: serious, fit, action oriented, to the point, and strict but fair. I had just moved to Forest Glade in the middle of the year and was the new kid in school. I was an awkward child but obedient and smart. The teachers liked me but Mr. Wilson saw that I could be more. I can’t pinpoint it but I knew he paid special attention to me. One day, in lineup to get back into school after recess, he came to me, asked to see my baseball glove and asked if I like playing. I said yes. He said “good, come join my team in practice.” He was a coach for the Forest Glade Optimists little league softball team. I joined. I was a lousy player but I developed my skills over the years and became pretty good. What is more important, I developed a sense of self confidence and team participation. That was something I didn’t have before. I don’t know what would have become of me had Mr. Wilson not given me that attention but I know I am much better off for it.

Years went by. I grew up but Mr. Wilson and I still lived in the same neighborhood. Though I was aware of what he had done for me, I never acknowledged it. The most I would do was give him a respectful salutation when I ran into him at the store or the community center. From his vantage point, there was no idea the value I placed on his relationship to me.

Mr. Wilson went on to become a city councilman. I saw him years later on television, he looked and acted just the way I remember. He was no nonsense and to the point. He was demanding but fair. He was a leader. I believe that he still serves on the Windsor city council to this day.

This may be late but the sentiments are just as strong as they would have been when I was a child: thank you Mr. Wilson.

(I think I’ll see if I can’t contact him and send him a personal note.)

There were others. There was Mrs. Proulx who helped me with the multiplication tables that I was having so much trouble with. I wonder if she could foretell that I would go on to win a mathematics scholarship. There was Mr. Wheeler, my high school art teacher at Walkerville Collegiate Institute. He was a great art teacher. He expanded my knowledge of what art is and the ability to apply art in a way that I could understand its significance. That we could express ourselves and expand our consciousness into the realm of what we do not necessarily have a complete command. Thank you Mrs. Proulx and Mr. Wheeler.

One thought on “Thank you Mr. Wilson

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