A Life Well Lived: Kathleen Schwartz

Today’s post is not about any of the principles of influence, rather it’s about the influence one person can have on so many. Yesterday Jane, Abigail and I visited a good friend, Kathleen Schwartz, after she’d been admitted to a hospice care facility. Barring a miracle she will not be with us much longer, so as you can imagine we’re all filled with sadness.

During our time there I told her husband Mark we’re all better people because of knowing Kathleen. We met her when she was Abigail’s middle school gym teacher and volleyball coach. She was tough, once calling a time out during a volleyball match to make the girls do finger tip pushups because of a mental mistake. She’d warned the girls she would do that and she was true to her word. As parents we loved seeing that kind of disciple instilled in the girls.

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Despite being hard on the girls they knew one thing above all – Kathleen loved them. There was correction for mistakes, but it was always balanced with hugs and lots of affirmation.
She was also the girls’ teacher for a life skills class. As 8th graders getting ready to leave the relative shelter of Polaris Christian Academy’s school environment, Kathleen prepared them for many of the changes they would encounter as teens in public high school. One bit of advice we laughed at and will never forget is when she told the girls, “If you hear a zipper, run!”
During my high school years Todd Alles, my football coach, instilled things in me that still impact my decision making nearly every day. When coach Alles told us, “You’ll learn a lot about life playing this game,” it rang hollow to most of us who played for him. However, as is the case with most people who grow up, we look back now and marvel at his wisdom. Kathleen was Abigail’s Todd Alles because what Kathleen taught Abigail will stay with her the rest of her life and Abigail will be a better person because of those life lessons.
Everything was fine in early December when Kathleen and Mark stopped by for Abigail’s 16th birthday party. Not feeling well towards the end of the month she was diagnosed in early January with a very rare form of cancer. Now in early March we all wonder why God seems to be calling her home so quickly. However, as Christians we adhere to the Apostle Paul’s words, “God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Difficult times are ahead for Kathleen’s family, her students, and for her friends but we cling to Paul’s promise. Good things will come from this and great things have already come from her life.
The influence of her life stemmed from her love of God and desire to live as His son lived. Love isn’t a principle of influence but it’s the most powerful force of change in the universe. When we unconditionally give ourselves to others it changes them. Our world would be a much better place if we all looked for ways to love more and thought of ourselves less.
Jane and I will never forget seeing Kathleen comfort Abigail, hugging her and telling her everything would be alright. That’s love when someone dying is still giving! 

This was not the post you may have expected but I hope it influences you to go out today and look for ways to genuinely love someone. Doing so will help spread Kathleen’s influence far beyond what she ever would have imagined and that would be a fitting tribute to a live well lived. God bless!

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Brian, CMCT 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

6 replies
  1. Jim Dooley
    Jim Dooley says:

    Brian, I have been impressed with your writing for some time, yet this one really struck home. What a vivid reminder that Leadership isn't only some specialized extension of management in a professional world, but a role model impression that we can call to mind in the darkest of times. You have extended Kathleen's reach with this posting. Thank you.

  2. Brian Ahearn
    Brian Ahearn says:

    I appreciate your compliment on my writing because you're one of the most creative people I know.

    As for Kathleen, she's a great example of AN authority because of who she was vs. being IN authority due soley to position.


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