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A voice from the past reminds John of the power of one.

Do you ever have days where you ask yourself the self-defeating question: Why do I even bother? Sure, sometimes it’s asked in different ways- Do I matter? Do I make a difference? Does my work here impact anything?– but we’ve all had those days.

Last week, my friends from Hollywood filmed a scene for the On Fire movie that reminded me of the unseen impact we all have the potential to make- even if it takes 25 years to realize it. Let me explain.

You may remember that when recovering in the hospital as a nine-year-old boy, I had a nurse that challenged me every day to get up, look forward, and dream again. He was a giant man, bore a striking resemblance to Apollo Creed, and he’d carry me just above the ground, my feet dangling between his, and say, “Boy, you are going to walk again. And I’ll walk with you.”

That encouragement (abuse?) went on for the entire five months I was in hospital. Although I wouldn’t take my first step for several more months, it was that one man, his vision and his encouragement that empowered me to walk again.

After being released from the hospital, I kept in touch with many of the nurses and doctors who served me. An entire table at my wedding reception was filled with those friends. But Roy had left the hospital shortly after my release; and we’d never been able to find him.

Nearly 25 years later, though, Alabama Power- a client I had spent all summer with- tracked down this amazing man who was so instrumental to my story. They contacted him, explained to him how I spoke about him, and asked if they could fly him in to reunite with me.

And apparently, he’d said yes because I was soon staring at a man I hadn’t seen in 20+ years. Nurse freaking Roy!

He hadn’t aged. He still looked just like Apollo Creed. And he was giving me a huge bear hug.

I was speechless.

Tears filled my eyes.

What a moment.

Roy and I sat down to dinner that night. The last time we’d eaten together, I was on morphine, tied to a bed, with nutrition coming in through a feeding tube. Now we were sitting at dinner, flanked by new friends from Alabama Power, celebrating this amazing reunion, and absolutely on fire with joy. It was a night I’ll never forget.

Near the end of the night Roy and I had a few minutes by ourselves to reconnect. We talked about my time in the hospital, those brutal bandage changes, and the daily walks to the tub. We talked about difficult nurses and old friends. We shared what we’d both been up to for the last twenty-four years. I told him about my family; he shared with me about his. He then leaned over and said, “You know, John, it surprises me that you did something with your life.”

The same sentiment has been shared with me several times by high school teachers from my past. But this time I felt it was intended as a compliment. You see, when a child is burned, sometimes he or she makes it out of the hospital, but not back into life. The emotional journey is just too painful. I understood what Roy was saying.

So, I said, “Thanks, Roy.”

“You know what surprises me even more, though?”

I shook my head no.

“How you were able to marry such a beautiful woman!” He chuckled.

“Wow. Thanks, Roy. I am glad they found you!”

We both laughed.

Then he said, “John, in all seriousness, do you know what surprises me the most about all of this? About this dinner, this reunion, this whole thing?”

“I don’t think I want to hear this one, Roy!“

“Well, I am going to tell you.”

He took a sip of his ice water. He looked into my eyes. He took a long pause. Then he said, “It is to learn that after twenty- four years, I mattered. John, I did my job, I loved my work, I loved my patients. But I never really understood until today that I mattered.”

“You did, man. You did.” I swallowed, the emotion catching up with me.

What about you? Do you ever wonder what impact you could make through your life?

My friends, today, I remind you that those who serve others put themselves in line for great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation and great joy.

Choose to be like Roy. Choose to be a difference maker. Choose to tap into the power of one. Choose to actively serve others professionally and personally.

And then rest assured the great return granted those who choose to make a significant impact.

Today is your day. Live Inspired.


14 replies on “Your Work Matters!”

Thank you John for the incredible work you do, sharing inspiring stories and helping people understand their purpose in life and helping them better serve the world with the unique gifts they have been given is a blessing to me and the world. Keep up the great work. I can’t wait to see the movie.

John, I am working on the film with you doing make up. I am enjoying keeping up with you through your blog. I also want you to know that I have worked on many films. You have been there daily and it is your positive attitude that I think is contagious throughout the film. This has been such a wonderful project to work on and I think all of my local 493 brothers and sisters would agree that this has been one of the most positive projects we’ve worked on together. Thank you for this opportunity.Rommie

On Saturday (12/2), I had the opportunity to be called in to be a background extra. There were probably 30-35 people there to be extras. By 6 pm, I was the only one not to get called to be in a scene (I think it was because I followed the instructions and was sitting in my mother’s 1980s robe…lol). When I got the email Thursday night, I started to listen to the book “On Fire.” I began to realize that on that day, I was not meant to make it in front of a camera, but what I was meant to do was to serve and be curious. I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people (extras plus the behind-the-scenes crew). I am a pediatric cancer survivor from 1980. I was an experiment for radiation and chemo and I was not to make it longer than 5 years after my diagnosis statistically. Today, I am 56, and I know that I am blessed to be here and serve each day. I never got to thank the nurses and techs who got me through the radiation, the chemo, the extras, the surgery, the blood draws, and the stays in the hospital because my counts were too low. But what I did get to do on Saturday was to thank two of Mr. O’Leary’s nurses (Nurse Sue and Nurse Mary). I told them my story and said “Thank You for what you did then and because I never got to thank mine, I am thanking you. When my parents were not able to be there with me, they loved me like I was their own and knew that it was scary for a twelve-year-old girl, in a hospital 75 miles away from my home. I know now that it was their selflessness that made me the person that I am today.” I got the opportunity to talk to three of the producers of the film (Amy, J. Todd, and Linda). I thanked them for supporting and making this film because what I had realized that day was that I was not just seeing Mr. O’Leary’s story play out, but my story and all the other kids that have experienced medical traumas play out. Through On Fire, all our stories are being told and people need to hear them.

As a nurse for 30 years now, I really love and appreciate this story. I love being a nurse and hope that I have touched some as much as Roy has touched your life. What a great story, thank you for sharing!

Thank you, John. This is so encouraging and reassuring to know the lasting impact that acts of kindness can have on someone’s life. We may not know right away, but in due season, the fruit of kindness ripens and presents itself.

Great story John. Thanks for finding Roy. I can’t imagine the reunion and how great it was to get together. I am sure many memories flooded back to you. This is a great reminder that all people matter and we all can make a difference each and every day. We just need to choose to do that. “What more can we do?” is something I do my best to live be each day. I am very excited to hear about a movie being made and can’t wait to go see it!

Wow! What’s really sad to me is that for 24 years Roy didn’t know, from anyone else, that he actually mattered! Thank you, John, for always being such an encourager! You remind us every single time how important it is to honor others so deeply that THEY KNOW!!

Thanks for the inspiration, John. Thanks for telling that beautiful story and continuing to find ways to make a difference for people, including Nurse Roy. It’s such a small world and we’re all in this together. I love you and there’s nothing you can do it about, John!

Thank you for this John. I pray every day to make a positive difference for someone(s) every morning before work, and every day. You have always been inspiring to me. I’m so glad that you were able to reconnect with Roy! I’ll be looking for the movie. Bless you!!

Thanks for this John. This weekend we put our incredible dog down. One of the hardest things I had to do in my life. I know that sounds crazy but he was part of the family. This story reminded me that Tucker made a huge difference during his life and was our gift and a reminder that we all need to find our purpose to make a difference.

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