During World War 11, Irena Sendler got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto as a plumbing-sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive. Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the toolbox she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck for larger kids. Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The barking covered the infants’ noises. Irena managed to smuggle out 2,500 infants. Ultimately, she was caught and the Nazis broke both her legs and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of all the kids she helped in a glass jar that she buried in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived; most had been gassed. The children of those parents she helped got placed in foster homes or adopted. In 2007 Irena was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Al Gore won for his work on Global Warming! Irena Sendler died on 12th May, 2008, aged 98.
If I had my life to live over again (Nadine Stair, aged 85)
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time * I’d relax * I would be sillier than I have been this trip * I would take fewer things seriously * I would take more chances * I would take more trips * I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers * I would eat more ice cream and less fibre * I would go to more dances * I would ride more merry-go-rounds * I would pick more daisies * I would travel lighter next time.
Thoughts of Oriah Mountain Dreamer (Indian elder)
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrows, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty. It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair and do what needs to be done. It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
The mother of invention!
One day as a small child Thomas Edison, America’s greatest inventor, came home from school and gave a sheet of paper to his mother. ‘Mam’, he said, ‘my teacher gave me this and told me only you should read it. What does it say?’ As she read the letter her eyes welled up with tears, wiping the tears away she then read the letter out loud: ‘Your son is a genius. This school doesn’t have good enough teachers to train him. Please teach him yourself.’ Edison’s mother did just that until she died. Years after she died Edison became one of the greatest inventors of the century. One day he was going through his mother’s things and found the sheet of paper that his old teacher wrote to his mother. He opened it. The message went as follows: ‘Your son is mentally deficient. We cannot let him attend our school any more. He is expelled.’. Edison became emotional reading it and wrote in his diary: ‘Thomas Alva Edison was a mentally deficient child whose mother turned him into a genius of the century.’
To err is interesting!
Finally, a favourite quotation of mine: ‘Life is very interesting if you make mistakes’. Well I know it. Well I know it.