Apparently, I skipped from #7 to #9, so here are two more things I have learned in 55 years bringing me up to 13.

#8 Kindness is never wasted 

Over the years, I have donated a lot of money, anonymously, to various causes. In more cases than I want to admit, I have seen signs that it was misplaced – the scholarship donor quit school, the athlete really did not train all that hard, the recipient bought a car or went on a trip overseas, making me wonder if they really needed the assistance . Maybe it is helping a person out who, when I needed assistance, didn’t lift a finger. Yet, I still give my time and money whenever I can.  Today, my darling daughter #3 did a mixed martial arts seminar that raised over $11,000 for a mental health clinic to assist people with eating disorders. Certainly some of the people who attended the seminar benefited. Maybe others did not. However, they may have been a partner for those people who did learn something.At the very least, they donated $200 to the mental health clinic as the price of attendance. Maybe some people who are in the Didi Hirsch residential program will not get anything out of the services and be just as ill as previously. There are five reasons kindness is never wasted:

The fifth reason is also

#13 You never know the reach you have had


After Ronda’s fight last month, darling daughter #2, also known as “The Perfect Jennifer” commented that she was the least accomplished of my children. Ronda is a world champion in mixed martial arts and Maria is an award-winning journalist who has been published in two languages and on three continents.

I told Jenn that nothing could be further than the truth. She teaches in an inner city middle school. Truly smack in the middle of the city. Her students respect her and really do their best to achieve in her class. It shows on their standardized test scores, in their behavior in her classroom and in their work adorning the walls. When I went to visit her class, I thought she had made the posters and flyers on the wall – “political ads” supporting the Magna Carta.

I told her that when you talk to people about who made a real difference in their lives, it’s seldom some sports or literary figure, and far, far more often a teacher. There are several teachers I can remember as significant in my life – my eighth-grade social studies teacher who told me that it was time to stop saying I could do all of the work and start to prove it by doing it. I’m still not a big fan of history, but I never forgot his lesson about no one having earned a reputation on what they were going to do. Pretty much every math teacher I ever had from sixth-grade on sticks out in my memory. Sister Marion, who I am sure passed away  many, many years ago was the first. She gave me math textbooks to take home after I had finished all of the sixth grade work, so I could learn more. I did very, very few problems in those books because – hey, I was in sixth-grade and there were more exciting things in life – but that confidence that I should be good at math has stuck with me for the next forty years.

I’ve had a pretty wonderful life, in part because I benefited greatly from scholarships to Logos High School, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Minnesota and the University of California, Riverside. I wasn’t always the most rewarding student. In fact, until graduate school, I went to more parties than I did classes. Because of those scholarships, though, I am in a position now where I can give back. I am sure my high school teachers would have considered me one of those students on whom their kindness was wasted.

Which just goes to show, you never know.


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5 Comments so far

  1. Jon Peltier on March 10, 2013 12:47 pm

    You never know who is driving that car who just cut you off, or who might be driving a little slower than you want to go. Sure, maybe it’s some idiot talking on their cell. But maybe it’s someone paying as much attention to driving conditions as you should be. Or maybe they’re having a rough day. Or maybe it’s someone you know, whose respect you value. So cut them a little slack.

  2. AnnMaria on March 10, 2013 3:37 pm

    Exactly. As my darling daughter number 3 likes to say, “Everyone has a back story”. Maybe they just found out their mom was diagnosed with cancer and can barely see for the tears. You just never know.

  3. wetzel on March 10, 2013 4:15 pm

    damn, annmaria…great blog! miss you. talk soon, I hope.

  4. AnnMaria on March 10, 2013 4:33 pm

    Hey, Mr. Missing-in-Action , miss you, too!

  5. Alan on March 11, 2013 4:31 pm

    Dr. De Mars
    Thanks to you and your lovely daughter Ronda for taking the time to organize and conduct this fund raiser. About two doors down from me in my office building is the office of a therapist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. A few times I have seen patients of hers entering or leaving her office who are obviously suffering from anorexia or a similar eating disorder. It is heartbreaking to see the condition they are in. You pray for them to recover.


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