Posts Tagged ‘service’

If the Walls Could Talk: Thanksgiving 2012

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

If the Walls Could Talk: Thanksgiving 2012

Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2012
Mussari-Loftus Associates
All Rights Reserved
The Face of America Project

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.  Johannes A. Gaertner

Wellstones of Gratitude

The walls in the room where I work are covered with symbols of affirmation, encouragement and gratitude. On the difficult days they give me hope, on the good days they remind me of my responsibility to be the best person I can be.

On this day before Thanksgiving, I decided to sit back and think about what they tell me about life, love, happiness and gratitude. 

From the Heart of a Child

By far, the largest collection of mementoes came from my grandchildren.

Thank you for the GIANT marshmallows, chips, pretzels Cracker Jacks and the popcorn.  I really like them.  Love Julia

Dear Papa Tony and Grand Kitch, Thank You, PJ.

To our Grandpa, We love you.

I always marvel at the honesty of children.  They say what they mean and they mean what they say.

Through the Eyes of a Child

Pictures of my children are everywhere. They capture various stages of growth and development.

For some reason, my eyes always land on two pictures, one with my daughter, the other with my son.

Both shots are joyful. Both scenes are memorable.

In each picture the eyes and the body language say everything about a perfect moment of happiness, joy and security.

These are the moments a parent lives for, hopes for, and prays for. These are memories parents cherish forever, because they help us navigate the bumps in the road of life.

Classroom Moments

Two of my favorite notes were handcrafted by students. Both speak to gratitude. One reads, “Thank you for coming to our classroom.”  The other addresses what I like to call a learning attitude, “Thank you for asking me those questions. I liked it.”

Notes like these remind old teachers like me that teaching is a noble profession, and teachers have an obligation to help students grow. To do that, we must make an effort to grow in the ways of the heart and mind every day of our life.

Art from the Heart

A number of the items on the walls are original works of art:

Two paintings of Windsor Park by Sue Hand;

A magnificent photograph of the Amish given to us by Bill Coleman;

Children’s art designed by Julia and PJ;

A beautiful representation of the American flag that welcomed people to one of our screenings at the North Plainfield High School;

A picture taken with the North Plainfield cheerleaders at the Memorial to the Heroes of Flight 93;

A handcrafted gratitude note designed by Adriana, one the students in our Gettysburg Project.

Collectively these images spell HOPE, LOVE, GRATITUDE and SERVICE


Messages from friends fill in almost all of the empty spaces on the walls. Some are handwritten, others are typed and a good number are cards with inspirational sayings:

Thanks for being so nice, so thoughtful and so giving;

Thank you for the phone call;

Tony. I thought deeply… prayerfully about you and Kitch…

Wishing you a day that makes you feel good…

I can’t begin to tell you how your kindness through taking the time to write this letter has elevated my spirits in a way that monetary bonuses and superficial job titles could never affect;

Hope is stronger than death.

Each one speaks to a quality or a value that makes life worth living.

The Face of America

A very select group of mementoes represent magic moments from our Face of America journey. They include:

A map of our travels;

A postcard from Mount Rushmore:

A note from a student who attended the guest lecture I gave in Julie Marvel’s class at, St. Mary’s College in California;

A post card from Little America, Wyoming; and a gift bag that proudly proclaims the Little America philosophy, “A Tradition of Excellence Since 1934;

A gift bag from the book store at the University of Iowa, a place of great significance in my life;

A picture of an outdoor advertising sign featuring Abraham Lincoln and these words, “Failed, failed, failed And then… PERSISTENCE, Pass It On,

Kitch’s Magic

The final group I will mention without any elaboration. They are handwritten notes from Kitch. They speak to her beautiful heart and her wonderful spirit. They reflect the light of her love and partnership.

Every day I am surrounded by these images. Needless to say for me they are priceless. They help me bring a gratitude mindset to my work, but more important they remind me to affirm others, to care about others, to share with others and to appreciate the opportunities I have, and the freedom our country guarantees everyone who lives here.

To paraphrase the words of William A. Ward, God gave us 86,400 seconds in this day. I took a few of them to stare at the images on my wall, and they reinforced the words of the ancients:

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues. Cicero
Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart. Seneca

Kitch and I agree with those who believe that “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates vision for tomorrow.”

Thank you America for the freedom, justice and liberty we enjoy.

Thank you North Plainfield for giving an old teacher a new classroom.

Thank you Gettysburg for giving life and meaning to the words of Abraham Lincoln, “We cannot escape our History.”

Thank you Dan Kopen, MD, Sal Lawrence, MD, David Greenwald, MD, and Norman Schulman, MD for giving Kitch a second chance at life.

Thank you dear friends and relatives all, you light the way with profound and poignant examples of caring, kindness, and goodness. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about, and that’s what America is on its very best day.

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