By Loraine Debnam
Days that change everything. When you read those words many memories come immediately to mind: births, deaths, graduations, weddings, getting your driver’s licence or moving to your first home.
They are milestones — which are indelibly etched into the journal of our personal history. But, there are other days, although we probably can’t put an exact month or year to them — which have made an incredible difference in our lives, even though we didn’t know it at time.
Only when we recollect do we credit them as life changing.
Near the end of my first year of university I was sitting in the library with all the paper work spread out before me that was going to be necessary to complete my last term paper — after many nights of cramming for final exams, I remember how very exhausted I was facing this daunting but vital requirement. I just put my head down “for a minute” and dropped into a deep sleep. An hour later another student sat across the table from me (Thank goodness or I may still be there now). She recognized my weariness and favoured me with the most beautiful smile of encouragement and a whispered apology for waking me up.
That brief connection has resulted in a 50-year friendship. We have seen each other through marriages, divorces, serious illnesses, having kids (and now grandkids), the loss of a precious and cherished parent, and many other failures and successes.
We have always been each other’s biggest supporter. Although we live many miles apart, we continue to stay connected and caring and our conversations just seem to pick up where we left off. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without her in it.
I was so fortunate to be able to stay at home after my daughter was born and we spent those formative years together doing some great things and making many happy memories.
But, I must admit, there were times when I longed for some stimulating adult conversation. The summer before she was going to start Kindergarten we were at a community function enjoying the time with other families.
When we sat down to share our picnic supper, it happened that the school principal and his wife and boys were sitting right beside us. As the talk ebbed and flowed around us, we made a connection that changed my life in a dramatic way. He looked at me and commented I should come to work for him and not let my brain go to waste (stagnate was actually the word he used).
For someone who loves to read, the thought of sharing good books with kids sounded like my dream job. It set me on a path a quarter-century long in a place I loved, doing work that never failed to be exciting and stimulating and so rewarding.
After I retired, I wasn’t really sure if there would be somewhere I might be needed and necessary once more.
But, once again, a chance encounter set me on an equally rewarding and fulfilling route.
I was sitting with a neighbour in church when another member of the congregation came over to speak to my friend. The exchange was a request to help with Operation Christmas Child that year and my friend agreed only if I would help her with the project.
“Absolutely,” was my immediate response and I have been involved now for nearly a decade and it certainly is a passion area for me.
You just never know where those unplanned links might lead you.
When you look back on those days that changed everything, it’s a good reminder that each and every day is a gift.