Paying a Delayed "Debt of Gratitude"

As we get older, we think about the many people who were a positive influence on your life. Expressing a debt of gratitude is meaningful to them and for you. The time to make an effort is now.

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Paying a Delayed "Debt of Gratitude"
8 Min Read June 14th, 2020

Do you have a person in your life who you feel you owe a "debt of gratitude"? Is there a person you always meant to thank for something, but never took the time or had the chance to? I have several people like that in my life. 

My family members and friends know my love for them, or at least I hope they do. I've noticed that as my friends and family and I grow older, we vocally express love to each other more often. "I love you," closes phone conversations. In personal contact, the spoken expression of love is accompanied now with a tight hug. So, to many, I've told them directly what they mean to me, while others I think I've shown my caring and appreciation for them in various ways. 

Then there is that remaining category of people who impacted your life. Those who have NO IDEA what they may have done for you and how much you appreciate it. How do you show them your appreciation if you would like to, assuming it is even still possible to?

We get caught up and swept away in the current of our own lives. People and the gratitude you feel you owe them gets left behind as your own, busy "river-of-life" rolls on. You do not forget what they did, and your appreciation of what they did is always there, but your expression of gratitude was never shared with them. 

Losing Track … Is It Too Late?

People lose track of each other, the current of your river speeds up, and priorities in your life shift. You seem to have less time. People and events that were once important in your life may become less important with time. You prioritize, and sadly, good intent becomes failed action. The gratitude you once felt you owed them may fade into the shadowed perimeter of your life. It's there, but its power in moving you to action is diminished.

With those thoughts in mind, I pose this question to you: In your life, how long is a "debt of gratitude" held before the need for you to express it is abandoned? 

I've found that as I've grown older, I have become more appreciative of many events and people in my life. Sadly, in my youth and with a lack of learning from life's lessons and maturity, I took what they did and the sacrifices they made for me for granted. 

Maybe it's partially because I'm retired now and have more "free time" to think about my life and everything and everyone who has brought me to this point of my self-awareness today. 

Our Mind’s Focus Changes Over Time

In the past, my thinking and efforts were all about work and paying bills, raising children, schooling and schedules, meeting deadlines, and all other things that became "external" influences to shaping me. But now, 

I've turned more to thinking and processing the "internal" influences that I seemed to have little time for before. Those are the events and people who guided me and opened doors of opportunity for me that I chose either to have walked through or closed. 

They helped to shape me morally and emotionally to be the "me" I am today. I've found that reflecting on "unpaid debts of gratitude" is both healthy and rewarding. The best people and events of my life and yours should never be forgotten. They should be cherished by us, shared with our loved ones as a part of our life histories, and, most important, become a "debt of gratitude" from the past that we seek to pay in the present.

Tech Will Help You Locate Key People from Your Past

Technology today has made it much easier to locate and reach out to people with a phone call or an email. I know first-hand the rush of smiles and joy that a simple gesture of personal contact makes. 

I received a surprise phone call recently from a student I taught in high school almost forty years ago. I remembered him clearly. I had even heard where he had settled and was living before we spoke. We laughed and talked about memories from days long ago gone by. 

We reminisced for thirty minutes, talked about what had happened in our lives over the intervening years, and exchanged invitations for visits, though he and his family live almost a thousand miles away. 

I thanked him for contacting me and told him how much I appreciated his kind gesture of friendship. Before ending the call, I asked him if there was some special reason for him reaching out to me when he did. He said, "You know Mr. "B", we had some great times together in high school. I have never forgotten the lessons I learned and the way you helped me as a teacher, both academically and as a friend. Over the years, I've thought a hundred times about calling you to say, "Thanks," and to see how you were doing. I finally decided today, to stop thinking about it, and do it." 

Debt of Gratitude is Always Meaningful

I can't tell you how much that call meant to me. That call proves the point of all I've shared with you here. YOU and your actions of simple kindness and caring, impact people, and the people you impact will never forget you. If possible, take the time and make an effort to let those people know what them being in your lives has always meant to you. Doing that is free. The resulting memory you will create for both of you is priceless. 

No matter how old you are, no matter how long ago a "debt of gratitude" was created, it can be resurrected as someone's shining moment and memory, TODAY.

With that in mind, I want to pay a debt of gratitude to a woman whose gestures of kindness and professionalism, shaped my life and set me off on a career that lasted forty-two years of my life. 

Thanking Mrs. Evelyn Engelking

My high school guidance counselor, Mrs. Evelyn Engelking, was instrumental in securing a college scholarship for me to become a teacher and, later, a school administrator at both the PreK-Grade 8 and grade 9-12 levels. 

EMrs Evelyn Engelking

She and many of the other teachers I had as a student, or later worked with professionally, were and are some of the finest people I've ever had the privilege and good fortune to know in my life. 

Though I've had the opportunity to express my gratitude to many of them through the years, it was a failure of mine not to take the time over the last five decades to find Mrs. Engelking and thank her personally for what she did for me, and to let her know the huge difference she made in my life. 

I want to let her know that though I may be only one of the hundreds of students she guided as a school counselor, I'm one who will never forget her. 

I don't have any idea where Mrs. Engelking is today. If she's alive, I hope this reaches her in some way. If it does, it's doubtful she will have any memory of me. Her memory of me does not matter. What does matter is who she was to me, what she did for me, and that she and my memory of her is shared with everyone who reads this. That gives her the recognition she deserves. 

People need to be reminded that educators like her are in every school across our nation and that they are truly unsung heroes who forever change the students' future lives they teach and guide. 

I don't want Mrs. Engelking to be forgotten. Hopefully, my effort here to pay her a "debt of gratitude" is worthy of what I have long felt I will forever owe her.

Who are the Special People of Your Lifetime?

You all have your own "Evelyn Engelking" in your life. If you are blessed, you have many of them. Your children and your grandchildren have theirs' too. I just opened the door to yours from the depths of your memory. Opening that door makes you smile and feel good about your life, and those special people who touched it to make a lifelong memory. 

I hope that you take the time to reach out to express your "debts of gratitude" before it's too late. Don't wait too late for you and these special people to experience how meaningful and rewarding that contact will be. 

Take the time. Make an effort. Enjoy the treasure of the personal reward waiting for you to give and share. Now is the time, Today!

Giving Kindness Takes Many Forms

In its own and thoughtful way, providing Long Term Care Insurance is an act of kindness and love you extend to your family members. It's a thoughtful "Debt of Gratitude" you provide for all they have done for you. 

LTC insurance will benefit both you and them. It will provide expenses coverage security for you to provide for unforeseen long-term health care issues you may experience.

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About the Author

Gene Beltz is a retired, professional educator. Having spent 12 years teaching high school Language Arts, 30 years serving as a Grade School Principal, and State and Federal Programs Director. He has a great interest in current events, politics, family, and travel. "I see learning and sharing as life-long experiences to embrace and grow from. I have friends across the spectrum of issues that I respect, admire, and often discuss differing sides of issues with. Above all, I love family and cherish my wife, children, and grandchildren. I hope my comments create smiles, thought, and sometimes even stir people to action. I think a well-informed public makes our nation wiser, safer, and stronger. I love our country, rejoice in her greatness, and am proud of her efforts to constantly move forward to be better. There is much more about me and my life you may sense as you read my stories and comments I share here with you. I hope you find them enjoyable!"

LTC News Contributor Gene Beltz

Gene Beltz

Contributor since January 23rd, 2018

Editor's Note

When we think about the consequences of longevity, do we think about kindness and gratitude? We should. Our future aging will impact not only you but your family and finances. 

People require long-term care services due to an illness, accident, or the impact of aging. The cost is very expensive. Often, families must step in to provide care. Without an advance plan, your family will face crisis management, and you will see your savings disappear over time. 

LTC Insurance – a Gift for Your Family

An affordable Long-Term Care Insurance policy is a gift for your family as they face the consequences of dealing with your future age or health issues. Caregiving is hard on those you love and creates a myriad of problems for the caregiver and their family. 

Give your family the gift of time - time to be family. An LTC policy will give you access to your choice of quality care - at home or in a facility. You will have the guaranteed tax-free benefits to obtain your choice of care, safeguarding savings and income. 

Start your research before your health changes, ideally in your 40s and 50s. Use the resources on LTC NEWS to begin your search. Start by clicking here.

Obtain the help of a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist. As helpful as they are with your other needs, general insurance agents and financial advisors lack the skills and experience you need to make an important decision about long-term health care planning.

Find a trusted and experienced specialist by clicking here.

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