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Reaching out to the past?

 
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Have you ever reached out to someone from your distant past to say "thank you for having a positive influence on my life"?  
 
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r ranson wrote:Have you ever reached out to someone from your distant past to say "thank you for having a positive influence on my life"?  



All the time.

I am 45, but I have always hung out with people much older than me, so they were good influences upon me. As an example, one guy I used to be around, would point to a car coming down the road and say, "Do you see that car coming at us? They smoke cigarettes", and as they went by, and I saw them smoking, I would ask how he knew from a half a mile away that they did. He would say, "because they drive a crappy car, if they did not smoke, they could afford a car payment of $100 more per month." Because of observations like that, I never smoked, drank or did drugs; a lifestyle that has saved me a lot of money over the years, and for a multiple of reasons.

So occassionally I write these people a thank you note, mostly because these guys are getting old now. I do not want to say this stuff as a eulogy at their funeral, I want THEM to know before they die, that they were a popular influence. They deserve to know, not a worthless "I wish I had told you this" eulogy after they are dead.
 
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I have, too.  Sometimes by letter or phone or email — and occasionally, if circumstances are right, by in-person visiting.  People who were important or interesting to me at one stage or another in my life.

I’ve got a story about someone who reached out to me, though.  This was a guy I’d known since elementary school and even after graduation from high school.  We respected each other.  At one point he was down on his luck, and I loaned him $500 (that he said he’d gradually repay within six months).  That didn’t happen, and I heard he’d relocated to Puerto Rico, for whatever reason, and then some international traveling.  Exasperating, but I sucked it up as one of life’s lessons.

Decades later, this guy was now back in N. America and had gotten my email addy from a mutual friend.  He contacted me and said he wanted to pay the debt.  Of course, inflation had somewhat ballooned the amount owed.  A few emails bounced back & forth, and he wound up using his credit card by phone to purchase me a Lincoln MIG welder… something I could make good use of!  Wow, that was heart-warming!  (And so 'all forgiven')
 
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Whenever I can I reach out to old friends that had a positive influence on my life.  Unforturnately, I don't have that many "old" friends left, but I do have a lot of new friends in the form of my childrens friends.  They are hard working people and upright citizens.  I call them friends and they do make me happy.  I have thanked them a few times for being real friends to my kids and me.
 
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I find it ironic that this is posted in the "meaningless drivel" forum, because it's pretty meaningful.

I'm still just shy of 25 years old, so at this point in life I am currently getting that positive influence from a lot of people in my life.  I thank them now, but I will thank them later too.  By then I'll realize more fully the impacts they made.

This also makes me think of people in my past who, at the time, made my life a living hell.  After finally moving on from those experiences, I get the urge to forgive them for what happened and thank them for being a part of my life.  Unfortunately, most of the time these people are still bitter about the past and just can't hear it from me.  I've even reached out to ex girlfriends for this reason (just to show respect and gratitude, not to attempt to re-kindle anything) and more often than not, they'll react with aggression, which shows me that they still haven't dealt with the past.  It's sad, and I just have to say to myself "oh well... that was a waste.  Maybe in another couple years... or not at all."
 
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This may not follow the thread, as it is not about someone from my distant past but recent, but I hope it will help others in similar situations.

I'm currently dealing with a lot of different emotions while holding Death Watch over my best friend, 82, who is in hospice care just waiting to die from lung cancer and heart problems.  He's had a rough time these past few months with pain, constant wracking cough, and unable to swallow due to his trachea being targeted by the radiation.  He's hoping the cancer gets him before he has a stroke or something that messes up his brain.

His wife passed 8 months ago, and he'd been going downhill ever since.  Lung surgery, chemo and radiation may have prolonged his life, but didn't cure the cancer.  He never smoked, but he was always exposed to second hand smoke from family, friends, and co-workers, and as a builder he was exposed to asbestos and strong chemicals.  Plus he never ate properly, mostly fast food, junk food, and colas except when his wife cooked for him, so anything could have caused the cancer to form and spread.

I've thanked him repeatedly for his friendship over the past 30+ years and all the times he came to my rescue.  He is mutually grateful for my loyalty and support when he needed it.  I've helped him get his affairs in order, so everything will go smoothly after his passing (I'm trustee of his family trust and have power of attorney to manage his finances and administer his will).

His heirs are already circling like vultures and are impatient to receive their shares of his assets.  They don't know me well enough to trust me.  But he does.  I have to keep reminding them that he's still breathing and still in charge of his life and property, and I'll follow HIS instructions, not his heirs', until he takes his last breath.  Then and only then, will I distribute the Trust's assets to the beneficiaries.

I know they are under a lot of stress right now, they are a thousand miles or more away and don't know what he has been going through.  He never wanted them to know.  When they called him, he told them he was fine.  When he was in ICU, he told them not to come and not to worry about him.  He'd either die or he'd recover, and there was nothing they could do for him.  He told them to remember him from the good days.  When he chose to go into hospice care, they objected and wanted him to keep fighting.  If they were here watching him waste away, as I am, they'd understand his decision to let nature take its course, but their crying and grieving are premature and just upset him.

He says he's done everything he wanted to do and went everywhere he wanted to go and is ready for death.  He's forgiven his enemies and told his kids and friends goodbye.  He's received his last rites as a Catholic.  He doesn't know why it is taking so long.  He hadn't been eating more than a bite or two a day, but he quit eating entirely almost two weeks ago, but something is keeping him alive against his will.  I think it is all the people who are praying for him to live.  His prayers and theirs are in conflict and negate each other.  I've asked his friends, neighbors, and relatives to stop praying for his life and join him in praying for a quick and painless death.  In unity or at least harmony, prayer works.

He tells me I should go home now as I've completed my work here, and he is being well cared for by the hospice service.  I told him I wasn't staying to take care of him, but because I didn't want him to die alone amongst strangers.  I hope he will die quietly in his sleep having a pleasant dream, but if he needs someone to hold his hand as he passes, my hand will be there.  I believe we will see each other again when my time comes, in a better place where there is no pain or sorrow, and we will still be side-kicks like Buz Murdock and Tod Styles in Route 66.  He's Buz, I'm Tod.
 
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r ranson wrote:Have you ever reached out to someone from your distant past to say "thank you for having a positive influence on my life"?  



Not as much as I would like, but then I also am a Facebook Resistor which makes reconnecting with people a bit difficult.

But I definitely have done it when I can refind people from my past. It gets hard though since I have been rather nomadic living all over the US up until recently.

I also tend to do something similar with the present. I really work at letting people know when they do things right, or do something amazing, or even just make an impactful moment. It is so easy to complain and make the negative comment, and forget to congratulate people when they do good. So I try and make sure to let people know when I see or hear them doing good. Instant positive reinforcement.
 
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Facebook has allowed me to do that with several people that I've lost touch with over the years.  I left home for a college 300 miles away as soon as I graduated from high school.  Then I joined the Army and traveled all over the world.  Forty years ago I couldn't wait to get away from home and all the people from that time.  Over the years, life has knocked a lot of the smartass off me.  I'd like to think that I've become a better person than I was 40 years ago.  There are people whose words and actions made an impact and helped me make the right decisions in some very difficult situations throughout my life.  It has been good to reconnect and tell them they were appreciated and that they had a positive impact on my life.  That, to me, is a greater legacy than a big fat bank account for people to fight over.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Bob Gallamore wrote:There are people whose words and actions made an impact and helped me make the right decisions in some very difficult situations throughout my life.  It has been good to reconnect and tell them they were appreciated and that they had a positive impact on my life.  That, to me, is a greater legacy than a big fat bank account for people to fight over.


👍 You've made a good point there, Bob.
 
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A little story 'bout that. My third grade teacher was Ms Widener. I was living in the Netherlands and was visiting my brother, where I was in primary school. I was hell on my teachers in primary school, in fact, she was the only one who taught the next year. Not. One. Other Teacher. I stopped by the school and introduced myself, and said I was no longer a miscreant and was now a productive member of society and everything, and I thanked her for her work with me. She said she didn't remember me! I was somewhere between crushed and happy.

After finally moving on from those experiences, I get the urge to forgive them for what happened and thank them for being a part of my life.



This is a beautiful sentiment. There are three phases of healing: forebearance, forgiveness and community. Most of us escape the situation to find a modicum of forebearance. That was easier before the internet. Now we have a choice to engage and work on forgiveness. Or not. Forgiveness heals the forgiver, not the forgiven. Community is a whole other thing, but without someone engaging in forgiveness, it isn't a possibility. Well done Connor!

 
Conner Murphy
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Thanks, Tj.  I wonder, is forgiveness "fulfilled" for the forgiver even if they are unable to express it to the person they want to forgive?  As in, if they avoid speaking to you.  I feel like I tried, and there's no point in hounding this person if they aren't willing to talk, but then I still think about it.  When someone actually slanders me, I feel more justified in letting those things go unsaid, but what if they are just avoiding a conversation in general?  I guess that's a form of disrespect... but, it's hard for me to let things go when I know the person isn't evil, but just reacting to their own insecurity.

I'd really like to get to the point where we understand that we have common goals, regardless of certain disagreements.  From there you can have a sense of community, as you said, although with healthy boundaries.  Unfortunately this kind of thing seems to go over most people's heads. :/
 
Tj Jefferson
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Especially 4:25 or so. They are referring to Matthew 6:14, which is, I suppose, something that somewhere around 70% of the country think is valid advice, but the best among us fail at.

I am no expert, but I think you can. I think it is much easier to have a closed circle, and have a visible body language, and that gives hope to continue on the path. It is hard without feedback, either positive or negative. The flip side of forgiveness is humility, which is my challenge. Forgiveness done so I feel better is an act of pride, done so I act better is an act of humility. Only one benefits others, and that is, I think, a failure of the current positive psychology movement. It's not about me, it's about us- and 99.999% of us is others.

 
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