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Tribute to a Special Friend with Terminal Cancer

Last week, my dad shared a story that really touched me and has been on my mind for a few days, so I thought I would share it with you.

Dad had just returned from a two-week trip to his hometown of Eau Claire, WI. While there, he visited with Gerrie, a former classmate that is terminally ill with cancer.

Dad has known her since they were four years old and had a great time reminiscing about kindergarten, grade school, and high school with her. Dad has always spoken highly of Gerrie and clearly enjoyed his visit and their trip down memory lane.

Gerrie recently became a grandmother and has been soaking up the precious moments with her new grandson. She volunteers her time on weekends to counsel and assist abused children and their families.

She plans to donate her body to the Mayo Clinic for research and is proud that she will make a contribution to the early detection and treatment of her illness. Nine months ago, she was given three months to live,yet she still sounds so full of life!

Ironically, as they talked about their children, Gerrie mentioned that her daughter has a hobby of learning about study skills. Dad was shocked and explained, “My daughter wrote a book on study skills.”

As you can imagine, Gerrie thought he was joking. (After all, there can’t be too many of us Study Skills Geeks in this world, can there?) So, Dad retrieved a copy of the book from his car (he’s my best marketing agent), and brought it in to her.

“Her face just lit up when I handed the book to her,” he said. She flipped through it for a while and then quietly exclaimed, “I AM going to read this!”

Now, when I wrote that book, I was certainly hoping that it would be valuable for students, but I never imagined that it could bring such a big smile to the face of a dying woman. And she wants to read it, too!? I am honored and very humbled.

I am also impressed that she is still excited about learning. As human beings, we are all born with a strong desire to learn. (If you doubt me, just watch a toddler explore the world.)

Once we enter school, however, we often lose that fire for learning because we associate learning with sitting still, listening to topics that other people tell us are important, but for which we have not yet developed an interest.

School is a great and necessary institution (although improvements can always be made), but the structure of it often convinces us that we hate learning. This attitude is such a drag!

In this country, we are very fortunate to have such wide access to education through our schools, libraries, educational TV programming, and the internet. We can all learn something from Gerrie and turn our perspective around to recognize that learning can be fun! And, there is no time like summer to start looking for fun things to learn.

Please help me honor a great lady by learning something this summer, just for the FUN of learning. You will not only make Gerrie proud, you may also have a different (and better) appreciation for school in the fall!

-Susan Kruger

 


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