The Impact of One, a reflection

Dear friends,

I just received news of the passing of one of my college professors, Dr. Rodemeyer. He was not a regular professor who came to work, taught his subject and left. He ran our Honors program at Fresno State, which was more like a family. He was our dad-away-from-home. I wanted to take a minute to honor him.

When it comes to writing, math, and life in general, the impact of a life is profound. One person can have a huge impact on your life and affect so many others. Please take a moment to share in the comments about someone you’ve lost who made a profound affect on your life, who you’ll never forget and miss dearly.

Heart made from wave

For me, Dr. Rodemeyer was a man who was naturally kind and caring, who’s smile was infectious, who made me—and everyone around him—strive to be my best self.

This is for you, Dr. Rodemeyer:


At first, I’m sad.

Then, I start to remember…

Suddenly, sobs rack my body as true realization washes over me.

When someone so impactful, so pure-hearted, someone I haven’t seen in so long but did so much for so many, passes away, all I can do is frantically search to see if his wife—the only person more naturally kind-hearted than he—will be okay, and relief and more sobs come when I realize, they’re reunited; she left this earth before him.

Then, the tears flow, the memories flash, the ball in my throat appears, dissipates, appears, dissipates and repeats, trying to reach my tears.

Regret creeps in. I should have thanked him more.

I should have seen them more…

But his smiling face, his wife’s smiling face join in my mind and say, “We knew; we miss you, too. We’re proud of you all, our Smittcamp Family, each and every one of you, we are proud.”
I should have thanked him more.

I should have seen them more…

But his smiling face, his wife’s smiling face join in my mind and say, “We knew; we miss you, too. We’re proud of you all, our Smittcamp Family, each and every one of you, we are proud.”

And I know it’s true. So I wipe my tears and say, “Thank you, for making our lives so much better, for being there, smiling and helpful always. You will be missed more than words can express. Rest in peace, Dr. Rodemeyer, rest in peace.”

So I wipe my tears and say, “Thank you, for making our lives so much better, for being there, smiling and helpful always. You will be missed more than words can express. Rest in peace, Dr. Rodemeyer, rest in peace.”

of Risa and Stephen Rodemeyer from Lisa Hardamon
Picture of Risa and Stephen Rodemeyer from Lisa Hardamon

Please do your best to thank those in your life who are there for you, so when they’re gone, you can think, they knew how much I appreciated them.


Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

20 thoughts on “The Impact of One, a reflection

  1. Beautiful tribute. I hear the admiration you have for this man, and I feel sad inside at your sadness. I feel quiet too and will take a moment to pray for peace.
    My friend Chuck and Dr R would have made amazing professional development seminars together. My friend Chuck made every person he was speaking to feel like they had the most fascinating stories to tell. He was that principal that made kids want to come to school. And one night while I was missing him terribly he sent me the mantra, “More Love. Less Worry.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maureen,
      Thank you so much. I almost felt bad for sharing, like needing to share was wrong, and it’s not, you’ve made me feel that. Chuck sounds wonderful, we are so lucky to have had people like this in our lives, the truly wonderful, that strive to help others feel great about themselves. Chuck sounds like he was amazing!😍


  2. I’m so sorry for your loss, Kaitlyn, and for the world’s loss. He sounds like an amazing person. And you’re right–he knew. He knew how thankful you were, because YOU know as teachers that we know we’re making a difference. We know we’re changing lives. Even if we don’t always hear the gratitude, we know it’s there (and knowing you, I’m almost certain you thanked him). The beauty is also in the life you’ve made and the lives you’re now changing due to having this wonderful person in your life. And you are. Everything you’re doing is a beautiful trickle-down of the kindness he shared with you.

    One of the people who made a profound effect on my life but is no longer with us is my cousin Daron. He was like an older brother and he was the only cousin of mine who lived geographically close. As a little girl, I wanted to marry him, even though I’d heard that was somehow wrong. I just wanted to be with him all the time. When he became a teenager, I didn’t see him as much, but when his mother remarried, he was there at the wedding, and I was, too. I was 8 years old and felt like a princess in my dressy clothes. When Daron saw me, he said, “You look pretty . . . ” As I was getting ready to thank him, he said, “Pretty ugly!” As he laughed, I shouted, “I hate you!” I didn’t speak with him again that day, and that was the last time I saw him. Later, when he committed suicide, I blamed myself. My harsh words, my anger. I’ve mostly processed through that. I know now that I don’t have that power and that my words most likely didn’t send him further into depression. But. There’s that tiny bit of unknown. That bit of guilt. And if I could go back and change my words, even if it still meant that Daron later took his own life, I would. Of course I would. I’d tell him how much I love him and how much he meant to me. I’d hug him one last time. The only blessing I can see that came from his death is what you’re reminding us of: when you are blessed enough to have people you love in your life, tell them. Share your gratitude.

    So Kaitlyn, I’m so grateful for you and your hilarious creative brilliance. You are impacting this world in such big and beautiful ways! You are a mother, wife, and teacher. You are a friend to so many. You are a support and inspiration to so many more. You’re paying forward the gifts that Dr. Rodemeyer gave to you every day, and through you, he lives on. Sending love, hugs, and prayers to you and his family. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to support you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This, this is what I needed from you, this is what you can do to support me. Remind me that how he affected me lives on in what I do. I only met his wife a few times but I remember thinking on our first meeting how could she be even sweeter than he is. They were truly amazing people. Sounds like Darin was too, sometimes those that hurt the most inside are somehow the sweetest to others, maybe their pain makes them more sympathetic amd caring. I’m so glad you k ow it wasn’t your fault, and I’m so glad there are more resources these days to help people who feel this pressure to end thier lives. I don’t think I’d be over exaggerating when I say, at least one of your students has probably felt this way, and I bet you’ve made an impact on his/her/they life that stopped them, because you notice and you care.

      And thank YOU for being such a light in my life, who knew that social media would bring such an amazing friend in my life who truly knows what to say and when. I appreciate you more than you know, Jolene, and absolutely adore your talent which is bigger than you’ll ever acknowledge because you’re so humble to the core. And also I appreciate the surprises you give me about ghosts and liking SPAM, they help me laugh and gain new perspectives. Love you , my friend, and thank you

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, sweet Kaitlyn. ❤ Thank you. I'm speechless/wordless right now and crying (in a good way). I'm so grateful for you. Sending so much love.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I’m way older than y’all so LOTS of people are gone from my life, but I thought I’d share about a teacher, too. Sister Michael Mary taught me YEARS ago and yet, when I heard she’d passed, I got a little choked up just as you’ve been so moved by your Dr. Rodemeyer.

    I’m just gonna put the link because like you, Kaitlyn, I felt the need to share about my teacher out there on the interwebs. (Though to be fair, I write about all the people who up and die on me because why else have a blog if you can’t share that–or those–who’ve most impacted your life and made you the writer and person you are today?)

    Read at your own risk. Maybe grab a hankie…do people still use hankies? UGH. Kleenex. Whatever. (Also sending a hug your way.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry, Cathy, but so glad you have a blog for us to read about all these amazing people ❤️ thanks so much for sharing, heading to your link now. I don’t have a hanky or Kleenex so I may using my shirt sleeve if necessary, don’t judge me, it works just fine 😆😉😍


      1. I decided to pause today and appreciate life and my loves (kiddos). I’m sorry for your loss and thankful for the reminder of the previous things in life.


  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. Good, caring, dedicated teachers mean everything. From Kindergarten to a doctorate program, it doesn’t matter. We need them, desperately. For me, my first major loss came at 13. My grandfather, who was larger than life to me, died of a massive heart attack. He was a doctor in the mountains of rural North Georgia. He’d seen patients that morning (a Saturday) and I’d gone to a festival near Atlanta with my mom and siblings. Mom dropped us off at home and then ran to the grocery store. A woman called while Mom was gone and said she’d heard “in passing” that our grandfather had died, and wanted to know if it was true. I was absolutely positive she was wrong, but couldn’t wait for Mom to get home. I called up to the house in the mountains and when my grandpa didn’t answer the phone, I knew instantly it was true. I felt as if my childhood ended that moment. I don’t think I ever experienced a “carefree” day ever again. Even though I only had him in my life for 13 short years, his influence on my life is still felt to this day. He instilled confidence in me as a very young child. He believed I could do anything in life, if I was willing to put in the hard work. I’m grateful to have had him, but the sudden way he was ripped away from me still hurts all these years later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melissa, I am crying with you, my friend. That sounds absolutely devastating, and it sounds like he was more than amazing. They way you talk about him, he sounds just like my dad, always believing in me, empowering me, no matter what I’m striving for or how old I get, I feel like I can fly because of him. I’m so glad we’ve had people like this in our lives. I’m so sorry for your loss, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story with me and reminding us all how important motivational people like Dr. Rodemeyer and your grandpa are.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kaitlyn, I am so sorry for your loss. It’s always amazing to meet people that leave an impact on your life like your professor did, but it makes it that much harder when they leave us. Thank you for being so open about your grief and loss. Your words brought back fresh memories of my favorite boss and friend, Cynthia. I worked with her for nearly eight years and she was not only a wonderfully kind and patient mentor, she was also my friend. She had my back in a workplace that was very much an “old boy’s club” and her training empowered me so much as a woman.
    After I finished nursing school and got a different job, she found out she had lung cancer. Since I lived many hours away at the time, our only contact was through Facebook and not very frequently, I’ll admit. I still remember the shock I felt when I checked her Facebook page on her birthday to write a message to her and found a note from her daughter saying she had passed the night before. I cried uncontrollably all the way home, full of regret that I had not seen her at least one more time face-to-face. It will be three years on October 26th since she passed. Whenever I see a black corvette, hear a Texas accent, or see a woman with long red hair, she flickers to life, just for a moment, and again I am grateful to have had her in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, cousin, that’s so beautiful and sad. I’m so sorry you didn’t see her one last time too, but if I know anything about good ol boys clubs, your bond will definitely go beyond life. Thank you fo sharing and I’m so sorry the anniversary will be tough, but so grateful she helped you in such a profound way to be stronger than you already were.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My father was the single greatest teacher in my life. He taught me not just what to do but, through his humility, what not to do. I always felt his unconditional love and full support. He believed in me. He thought I was beautiful. He believed I was a gift. Without his solitary voice of positivity I don’t know that I could have stood against all of the negative voices out there. Even though he has gone I feel his love, he is with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww that’s the best tribute a father could ask for, mine is exactly the same, always cheering me on and helping me, forever guiding me with this words from the past and the present. Thanks so much for sharing, Kaylynn


  7. I’m sorry for your loss. I loved your tribute. I think it will make those of us who read it stop and think of who the special people are in lives that we need to thank. It is such a powerful thing to say thank you. Thank YOU for reminding us of this in the midst of your grief.


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