Ideas: Think Especially About People At Life Marker Times 

This idea is excerpted from  Barbara’s book “What Can I Do? Ideas to Help Those Who Have Experienced Loss”,  (Augsburg Fortress, 2007).

Penny Wallace of Battle Creek, Michigan, writes about how her son’s classmates thought of her many years after his death:

I have an angel who is always looking over me—my son, David.  On May 25, 1989, David was killed in a head-on collision caused by a reckless driver.  David was 8 years old.

David was in the second grade with only 3 weeks to go before the summer vacation was to begin.  He was a very active 8 year old, involved in ice hockey, soccer, and baseball.  He was especially looking forward to his first year in rocket football.

His death was devastating to the entire community.  We received an overwhelming response and support from his classmates, teachers, fellow teammates, coaches, and friends.

The parents of his classmates collected money and purchased benches for the playground at the school in memory of David.  The Ice Hockey Association, David’s teammates and parents, had a dedication ceremony on his 10th birthday.  A flag pole and bronze marker was permanently laid outside the hockey rink in memory of David.

With those big blue eyes, smiling face, and shining personality, David made a lasting impression on all those he knew.  Over the past 10 years, I have had contact with David’s friends and classmates and watched them grow into young adults, in my heart, always wondering what David would have grown to be.

May 25, 1999, was the 10 year anniversary of David’s death. This year was especially difficult to overcome.  On June 1, 1999, David was supposed to graduate from high school. Another milestone missed, another hurdle to overcome.

As graduation neared, those around me were planning celebrations for their graduates, and graduation announcements were being sent.  What would have been David’s senior year was coming to an end; the air was filled with excitement.   As I tried to share in the excitement of those around me, inside my heart was breaking.  One of the most exciting times for a child and his or her parents was one of the most miserable for me—I had nothing to celebrate.

Then my earth bound angels appeared—a day never to forget.  It was a Sunday, May 15, only 16 days till graduation.  I had just returned home when several cars pulled into the driveway behind me.  I turned to see what all the commotion was and there before me stood my son’s classmates.  As they approached me, they tearfully presented me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a 1999 Yearbook—dedicated to my son. There in the pages of the senior class portraits was an enlarged picture of my son, David.  Beside it was a special poem written by his girlfriend from the second grade.  Each page was signed by his classmates with poems, stories, and goodbyes.

His classmates gave us special passes to attend the Baccalaureate and Graduation ceremonies.  On graduation night David’s best friend tearfully gave me a graduation tassel to keep to honor David. A unique Senior tradition in our community is making a video which includes snap shots of special events, special times, and special friends during the school years of that class. The video is shown during the Baccalaureate ceremony. To my surprise, the video included pictures of David with his classmates in their younger years, together with a special dedication in his memory.

Words cannot express the heartfelt joy and pride these individuals have brought to me.  They have grown to become very exceptional young adults; how proud their parents can be!  I, too, am proud of my son for becoming the person he was in eight short years.  His classmates demonstrated how special he was to them by celebrating and commemorating his eight short years of life and the impact that life had on them.

These individuals made a very difficult, almost unbearable, time for me very special.  They made me feel very much a part of this milestone in their lives, as well as in what would have been a milestone for David.  Thanks to my Earth Bound Angels for making the impossible…..possible.

Barbara Glanz Biography

A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at and

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