An elderly retired teacher in a nursing home. He had retired fifteen years before and rarely had visitors. He was lonely and often felt that the many years he had devoted to his students was long-forgotten. He still read a lot and his mind was active. But the thought that nobody remembered him made him sad. His wife had died seven years before and his three children lived far away and rarely visited. They did call him regularly, but day in, day out, the thought that what he had done for so long was not appreciated, weighed on his mind.
Then one day he received a call from a former student. He asked if it would be all right if he and some of his friends from school came to visit. The retired teacher was thrilled. "Of course, it's more than all right. I look forward to your visit."
Over twenty now grown-up students surprised him with a gala party in his honor. Each former student got up to speak and expressed appreciation for what the teacher had done for him. They related that much of their success in life was because of his positive influence on them. They taped the speeches and took many pictures. For the rest of his life those pictures gave him a glow. He was remembered. The work he had done lived on. He had asked them to call him every once in a while. They did and told their friends that their calls would be appreciated. Each call was a symbol of gratitude that added much light to his life.
(From Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's book: THANK YOU! Gratitude: Formulas, Stories, and Insights: Artscroll Publishers)