This weekend my sister and I helped host my Mom's retirement party.
She was a teacher for 40 years (with a couple of years in the middle where she took a break to run her own business and do some child-rearing).
Over 200 people came to the party, most of whom took a turn at the microphone to speak about how she had helped them and made their lives better.
One of the speakers was a man who had been a student of hers when he was in a car accident and then a coma for 45 days. When he woke, he had a diminished memory and couldn't speak. He couldn't remember many things, but he remembered my mom. And after he finished physical therapy for over a year, he returned to her classroom with a speak-and-spell (he still couldn't talk) to finish high-school and graduate.
I couldn't help but think that it was highly unlikely that my retirement party would be anything like it. No matter how good I am, have been, or will be at the jobs I've done, am doing or will do -- I probably won't have a positive professional impact on anywhere near as many people as she did.
Teaching really is a noble profession.