The Gift of Sharing Life at the Same Time

Dear Reader:

How many times have you stopped and watched a moving performance and thought how lucky you were to be watching this artist/celebrity or sports champion or political leader… a stand-out in any field of life… at that very moment.

Then your thoughts grew universally broader and you thanked the celestial beings for allowing you this gift of time on earth that aligns itself with people you admire from afar .

Until one day you realize how fortunate you are to be sharing your life-span on earth with people you admire upclose and personal…. family, close friends and community leaders.

One of my favorite projects I had my eighth graders research in American history was finding famous historical figures who lived at the same time and knew each other. Even becoming friends.

The first to pop up in my mind was the friendship between Mark Twain and U.S. Grant.

Grant’s home in Galena, Illinois/Eva Cate shares the same birthday as Grant ( April 27)

As good as US Grant was a general… the Presidency proved to be a more challenging struggle for him than the war itself. His two administrations were marred by scandals -of which none were of his direct making but from poor choice selections for key leadership roles in his administration.

” Grant once admitted that he trusted in men long after others ceased to do so ( but by the end of his life) he sadly noted… ” I will never trust another man again”

He had been swindled out of his life savings and discovered he had lung cancer and not long to live. He didn’t want to leave his family in poverty and then help arrived in the form of Mark Twain/an ardent admirer of Grant. He convinced him to write a book of memoirs from his personal perspective of the Civll War. Grant died only days after completion… having fought his greatest personal war against weakness, accelerating pain and loss of his vocal chords- his greatest victory!

Twain took over the costs of publishing it-a monumental best-seller that brought in close to a half million dollars ( over 10 million in today’s market) and saved the Grant family from complete bankruptcy. ………………………………………………………

Then there was the amazing story of Joe Louis ( ” The Brown Bomber”) and German Max Schmeling… advertised as the boxing match where America was fighting Nazism in the ring. But as far as the two fighters went-they were friends and corresponded after WWII. Many years later… when Joe fell on tough times… Max helped pay his debts and financed his funeral

And then the final amazing friendship that took place between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave who bought her freedom and became a famous seamstress in Washington. Mary ,so delighted in her styles, hired Elizabeth to be her personal dressmaker. But she also became Mary’s best friend, traveling companion and especially confidante. Elizabeth was the only one who could calm Mary’s frayed nerves. ( Mary suffered from several forms of mental illness.)

So until tomorrow… Stop and think of the people, living on earth, during your earthly sojourn. who have become close friends to you and made your visit to this planet so much the better! Let them know what a difference to you they have made by sharing the ride!

Today is my favorite day – Winnie the Pooh

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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6 Responses to The Gift of Sharing Life at the Same Time

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    I had never read this story about Grant and Twain. I learn something new every day. Isn’t life grand that way? You are the consummate storyteller. Thank you for always making history live through your stories. You could have given Scheherazade a few stories had she needed some. Again, I loved all three of these stories today, but the first made me want to venture back in history. And that is so easy today with google. Glad to be living today when knowledge is at your fingertips.

  2. Johnny Johnson says:

    I really enjoyed this writing! In case you didn’t know already, I am a History lover. I wanted to major in History in college but my Father talked me out of it. Anything Historical, I just love it! And I learned a lot from this writing today about Historical friends and the overall message. I am happy that I have found you and happy to be sharing the ride with you. I call what you post a writing because it’s to good to be a blog. Just can’t bring myself to call your writing a blog.

  3. Honey Burrell says:

    I too love history and enjoyed todays blog! But the person I would say I have most enjoyed this earthly ride with would be no other than Becky Dingle! Yes you mean so much more to me than you will ever know. Oh the lessons I’ve learned from you! Yes, you my dear friend are greater than any historical figure. Love you and admire you so!

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