Words of Encouragement

by Joseph Hili
Gozo, Malta

I live in the island nation of Malta. When I was young and attending the secondary school in the late 50’s, I had to study by the light of a kerosene lamp. Since there was no electric service in our area, we had no electricity at home. When finally the electricity passed our house, in 1961, I called a local electrician to come and install electricity in our house. He promised to come, but he never did it.

I was so frustrated that I went to a hardware store, bought all the material necessary to wire two rooms, and from my knowledge I installed them myself.

Then I applied to get the electrical meter. The day the meter installer came, I was so frightened that he might tell me to take everything away because it was not a good installation. His helper, who was always with him just to carry his tools, looked at me and said, “Bravo, bravo, good work. You will pass the exam”.

These words were so encouraging for me that I decided to continue installing electricity in all of our house. Then my neighbors asked me to install electricity for them also. I made many mistakes, but from them I learned a lot.

In the meantime, I began to take evening classes in electricity, to get the relevant certificates to be licensed. Eventually, I got them.

Then, instead of continuing to study for a common clerk typist, which I had planned to do before, I became a professional electrician. I took big contracts until I retired.

In about 1997, I was returning home from an urgent electrical repair request from a farmer who had given me two big melons to take home. I once again saw the gentleman who had told me “bravo” 45 years ago. He was standing with his son waiting on a bus-stage.

I stopped to give them a lift, which he accepted. I offered him a melon and told him that it was as a reward for what he had said to me 45 years ago. I told him he had changed my entire route of life.

He answered that he didn’t remember anything about that encounter, but he was very happy to hear it, and thanked me heartily. I told him that it was I who had to thank him.

I always remember him and mention this story frequently, for he changed my life completely.

Originally published as HeroicStories #732 on Nov 30, 2007

3 thoughts on “Words of Encouragement”

  1. I am so glad you had the opportunity to thank the gentleman 🙂
    This story is a wonderful reminder that we never know the impact our words have on others. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. I really like this one. A reminder that a bit of advice or a few kind words can sometimes change a person’s life entirely. Sometimes advice can backfire, but in this case it didn’t.

    The poster may have been happy enough as clerk, but he was probably a damned sight happier as a tradesman with a valuable skill. He was lucky on the timing too, becoming the ‘go-to’ man just as the need was arising.


  3. What a great story! So fortunate you got a chance to thank the gentleman and let him know how much his simple encouragement affected your whole life. Bravo!


Leave a Comment