After I read the book “The five people you meet in heaven” I decided to meditate and figure out who those people were that have been so instrumental in my life. If you haven’t read this book I strongly recommend you do it.  It is a fiction novel with a message that there are five people in our life whose interaction with us made us what we are.

But the message goes very deep in the sense that we meet people for short period of time, sometimes we forget those people but that interaction is paramount in our development. In other words, it doesn’t have to be a forever friendship or relationship.

I have thought about this topic so many times. In fact, I have made several lists, and every time a lady comes out in first place. Her name is Mrs. Irma – My kindergarten teacher.

In order to understand why Mrs. Irma has been such an important person in my life, you must understand the following:

There are important transition/phenomena that occur when a child is first exposed to the school system.  If you are a parent, you know how you felt when you saw your child going to school first day. There is separation anxiety going both ways, from parent to child and from child to parent. But it isn’t just the separation from home; it is also the exposure to strangers – the society.

Please notice that during my childhood we didn’t have pre-school or pre-kindergarten, we started at kindergarten. 

So many bad things can occur with this initial exposure of a child to the school system, to strangers, to the society.

I had the joy and privilege of having a kindergarten teacher that had such special gift from the Lord.  She had so much grace, in fact I believe she was born to facilitate that transition of those children between home to school.

My first day, I was so scared going to school until I met Mrs. Irma.  Immediately my fears disappeared and a special connection occurred. Somehow she changed my name from Jose to JoShe and from that moment on that was my new name - Joshe.

My school was located in front of the central park in my hometown. During the break, there were some vendors that gathered outside the gates to sell ice cream, fruits, and cookies.  Now imagine this: The Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean where it is extremely hot.  The ice cream that we bought used to melt very quickly and made such a mess on our faces, hands and uniforms.  I am sure this situation would drive anybody crazy having to deal with twenty plus kids that were completely dirty and sticky with melted ice cream. Well, what I remember is Mrs. Irma placing us in line formation to go to the sink and she washed our hands and faces one by one as well as cleaned our uniform the best she could. I call that patience and love!

Those memories are still so fresh in my mind; I had always wondered what happened to her. I used to wonder if I could have the opportunity to say thank you, well, three years ago I was invited to go to a special event in NY/NJ. The Dominican community was going to recognize a legendary teacher from my hometown. They wanted me to present an award to my teacher Irma. Obviously, I couldn’t refuse and immediately made arrangements to travel for this special occasion.

I must admit that I got very nervous when I got to the place. Maybe, until that point I didn’t realized how much I appreciated her. One of the hosts came to me and asked me to follow her so I could see my teacher. My heart was racing so fast and when she saw me her reaction was – "JoShe!!" Can you believe, she still calls me that after forty seven years?

My eyes flooded with tears.

This blog today is about gratitude, it is also about taking a moment of our time and meditate about who we are and how we got to this point.  I invite you to think about those important people other than your parents, and pray for them and if you have an opportunity to say thank you, then don’t waste any time and do it.