This morning in the WSJ Bob Greene writes "I Actually Thanked a Teacher." He's writing about picking up the phone and thanking his first-grade teacher, Miss Ruoff., who is now 88, and long retired.
After explaining why she was so important to him--she taught him to read Look, his first word--he tells her that he's sure many other men and women, now grown, must have called to thank her over the years.
"None," she said. "No one ever has."
It reminded me of calling one of my teachers--Sherry Billings, my speech coach--and thanking her. But it also reminded me of thanking a artist, Robert McCauley. My husband and I had bought one of his paintings of a bear. It was a perfect fit for our place in Montana where we'd had a bear in the house once. McCauley's painting of the bear gives the bear personality, In many of his bear paintings he includes a microphone to facilitate communication. So he can hear what the bear has to say and vice versa.
I was so thrilled with the painting that I wrote him a thank you note, and invited him to stop in and see his painting front and center in our home the next time he was in Montana.
Robert--we're now on a first name basis--was floored by my thank you note and invitation. He said that in the four plus decades he'd been painting he could count on one of his dog's paws how many times he'd been thanked for his work.
I was dumbstruck. People acquire his art work, hang it in their homes or offices, and never reach out to the artist in appreciation?
It's another reminder of a important lesson I learned from my mom. "Thank yous are never too plentiful," said Babe.