rosellam.jpgIt’s so strange how things happen.

I plan on discussing mentoring in my speech during the Massachusetts Conference for Women today. And last week I had an incredible thing happen to me that has to do with the topic…something that lends credence to the idea that we all touch people in our lives whether we know it or not.

When I was in my early twenties I rented an apartment on a busy street in Astoria, Queens, from a sweet Italian woman named Maria Rosa Mulone who gave me the apartment for $150 less than it was listed for because I couldn’t really afford it. She was like my mom away from home, fixing me incredible Italian meals and looking after me.

She had a young daughter named Rosella who would often knock on my door and visit. I shared my love of painting with her, and gave her some art supplies.

Well, recently I wrote a story for MSNBC.com about my doomed quest to boycott China and I got over 300 emails from readers. I read many of them but was too busy to look at them all.

A few days after my story came out I went back to read through the emails and I came across this one:

“I signed on this afternoon and saw your article about boycotting China. When I saw your name I knew I recognized it immediately. I believe you rented an apartment in Astoria from my mom many years ago on Astoria Blvd. I don’t know if you remember me my name is Rosella. I also remember you gave me my first canvas pad to draw on and that took me on a path that I have continued on even today. I decided to major in art in college and pursued an art degree for my masters.”

OK, I have to admit, I cried when I read Rosella’s email.

You go through life wondering if anything you do has meaning, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you find out that indeed you had tiny impact on someone.

I quickly sent an email to Rosella telling her I remembered her and her mom very well, and that her email to me made my week, month, year.

I decided to look up her name and see if any of her art was online. I came across a website for Rosella Mulone. (www.rosellamulone.com.)

As the website came up on my screen, I must admit I was hoping I actually liked her artwork. I mean, even if I didn’t it wouldn’t matter, but it would be nice to love it.
And I did. It is incredible.

I sent an email to Rosella, asking how her mom was and sharing with her how much her mother’s nurturing and kindness helped me at that point in my life.

Her response:

“Sadly, my mother passed away five years ago from colon cancer. I actually quit my job as a graphic designer in an auction house to take care of her the last year she was sick and I decided to finish my master’s degree in visual arts and then started family.”

Life is full of unexpected connections. You just don’t know what you mean in the scheme of things. But somehow, we are all connected.

I think the key is reaching out for help from people that you can learn from, and on the flip side, always reach out to help the people around you. Who knows what it will mean.

This is from her final email to me:

“Funny how someone leaves an imprint of themselves behind and it can remain for a long time.”

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