An ordinary woman once taught me a very important lesson. Please comment nicely!

One day I was life guarding over at the swimming pool, and this woman came over and started talking to me. Something about swimming laps, and how her doctor told her she had to start exercising or she'd die.

"Today I swam fifty laps," she told me. "I swim laps every day now. Six months ago I couldn't swim a single lap."

I felt really sorry for this woman. Something told me she was truly alone in the world. I felt like she was talking to me only because I was the lifeguard at the swimming pool.

All this happened forty years ago, when I was seventeen. I still remember that woman's name, too. Lucille Singleton. I remember because I was just as lonely as she was. I never dated girls. I never even smiled at girls in the hallway. At home I did nothing but listen to records and read books. My father never left the house except to work. He sat around all day smoking and drinking. That was life and I couldn't change it.

I thought that poor woman was just like me, helpless. I thought she was all alone. I thought she was telling me her story because she needed help, support, someone to care. But I couldn't think of anything to say, except "that's nice." Having nothing to give her made me feel sad and ashamed.

Back then I believed that nothing in my life would ever change. But life is change. Life changes all the time. Lucille Singleton changed her life, and she wanted me to know it. She was trying to tell me that I could do it too.

That woman had the courage to share something about her life with someone else. I could never do that. I made myself believe that I was ugly and disgusting and kids didn't like me. I made myself believe my father was sick and getting sicker because that was how it had to be. So when Lucille Singleton proved that wasn't true, that people can take control and make a change, I pushed it out of my mind. I told myself she was all alone with nobody to talk to. But she was talking to me.

And I didn't even listen.

Now I understand why older people share their stories. Sharing is strength. Listening is strength. Every story is a precious opportunity. There's a special kind of strength in people who often seem very weak. Lucille Singleton, thank you for talking to me. I still remember who you were and what you were trying to say.