One of the real perks of writing this weekly column is often I hear from readers who offer an inspiring message that I can then pass along to others.
Recently David Eaton, of New Braunfels shared a letter addressed to me from his 88-year-old sister, Elaine Macejek, who lives in Evanston, Illinois Her message is a powerful one and one I am pleased to share. (Due to its long length I have taken the liberty of editing it):
“Four years ago, Mary Schmich, of the Chicago Tribune asked her readers to submit one word for their New Year’s resolution. She then ran the column with their replies. At the end of that column she wrote ‘Elaine Macejek submitted her word the old-fashioned way — handwritten on letterhead stationery: the word was ‘SMILE’.
“Smile — that’s one word that changes everything. It makes you feel better. It even works on days when you have to force it. It also makes everyone you come in contact with feel better. Best of all, it takes no extra time. You don’t have to work to fit it into your routine. It’s also the one resolution you have a chance of keeping.
“Shortly after that column appeared, I was walking by the post office in downtown Evanston when I saw written on the side walk in large letters — SMILE. I like to think my letter made a difference to someone.
“I once read, ‘We don’t smile because we’re happy; we’re happy because we smile.’ When you smile messages go to your brain telling you that you are happy. It’s like when you touch something hot, a message goes to your brain — ‘that’s hot.’
“I remember two special smiles in my life. Back in 1939 when I was 8 years old, I entered a new school in third grade. The first day the girl in the desk in front of me turned around and smiled. I recall her name was Shirley Robinson. We were not close friends but I still remember her just as a girl who smiled at me just when I needed it.
“Then in 1944, when I was 13, I went to a boarding school — again I was feeling all alone, a girl smiled at me and I have never forgotten it.
“People will forget what you did or said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. I try to expand the smile concept by sincerely complimenting people…
“At the grocery store, my cashier was looking very bored. I said, ‘You don’t know how important you are. For many people, especially the elderly, you may be the only person they have contact with — the only person to talk with all day. You can make a great difference in their lives.’
“Once a stranger approached me while we were sitting at a coffee counter. I was a reading a book and laughing. She saw I was reading Phyllis Diller’s ‘Housekeeping Hints’. We immediately bonded — neither of us caring much for housework. Well, she became my very best friend for 47 years until she passed away.”
Miss Macejek completed her letter with the words from a song from the movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “With a Smile and a Song…and life flows along, with a smile and a song.”
Thank you, Elaine Macejek, for your letter filled with cheerfulness and wisdom. Indeed you made me smile.