Some time ago, I had the experience of making a difference, one on one, in the life of another human being. It’s difficult now to describe how it affected me, but it must have, because I have never forgotten it. It is said that one frequently comes away from an experience such as this with a feeling somewhat akin to euphoria. I don’t know about euphoria, but when I play the experience over in my mind, I do get chills.

I believe it necessary to relate some background information in order to give you a more complete picture. In our business travels to Arizona, my wife and I met many very nice people and there was one couple, who owned a store, with whom we became friendly. We spent one or two Thanksgivings with them, staying in their home and enjoying their company.

The lady, I’ll call her Mae, had been married two or three times before (I had never been able to figure out the exact number). The gentleman was either husband number four or five. They had not been married long and it was simple to figure out (from their conversation which came across like an article in Playboy), that they thoroughly enjoyed their marriage!

Mae had a 12 year old daughter from one of her previous marriages, and the small family traveled on vacations in their motor home. I could not, for the life of me, imagine what went on, while that child was in the next room in a motor home.

They turned up at our home one July evening, plugged their electrical in and we proceeded to our patio for snacks and something to drink. The young girl went into our den, which could be seen from the patio and sat down on a hassock. After awhile, I looked in the den and she was still sitting there staring off into space, looking for all the world like a lost puppy. I could not stand seeing the child like that, so I went into the den and asked if she would like something to drink. No thanks. I then asked her if she would like to watch TV. No thanks.

In those days I played the guitar a little (our dog was the only one that would stay in the room while I played), and my guitar was in its stand in the den. I asked if she would like me to teach her how to play a little song on the guitar. To my surprise, she said yes! I got my guitar, placed it on her lap and showed her how to hold the guitar and how to hold her fingers on the frets. To make a long story short, that little 12 year old was playing a little two or three chord song called, A peanut sat on a railroad track, in about one half hour, as if she had been playing guitar for six months. Had I not  been sitting down, I believe I would have fallen off the chair. I went back to the adults and made her mother promise  when they returned home, she would get her daughter a music teacher.

Fast forward two years. We had the opportunity to see them again and the child was then 14. I asked her how her music was coming along and she told me that she was in the school band and was learning one or two additional instruments. (I don’t remember which.) After talking together for some time, I asked if she would like some ice cream (there was a place across the street) and as we crossed the street she took my hand. I have always felt that more was being said by that child taking my hand than would have been said by speaking.

We lost track of them after that, although we did hear that Mae’s mother had passed away and it seemed to me that Mae could have been waiting for just such a turn of events. Her mom owned some property called downtown Phoenix and Mae was an only child. Almost immediately (if you can believe local gossip), she closed her store, divorced #5, moved to Colorado and met #6. The last we heard, her daughter was enrolled in university in New Mexico and her major was…Music. As I write this I’m getting a bit emotional but that’s O.K. I get this way when I think back to when I was able to make a difference in someone’s life.

The moral of the story? Making a difference in someone’s life will usually make a difference in yours.

—–Don Weston

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