What one community learned from their crossing guard!www.flickrcom/photography/oldschoolsafetypatrol
Everyday at 3 O'clock, during the witching hour at my daughter's school, it would be chaotic to say the least.
Parents with their pets, infants and toddlers (not ready for this school) are trying to hold everything together while the non-pedestrians who come in cars beep, and beep, and beep, and wait and fight over parking.
Someone's always cutting the pick-up line because their world is more urgent, valuable, than the rest. I'm handicapped and I can't tell you how many people park behind me, blocking me in like they are crossing a T, and we have to go find help to get OUT of the space. That kind of defeats the point of handicapped parking.
Most people, however, are like family, and help me get out. Everyone has their own worries. Their own "somethings". I always remember this when I feel anger stirring because of someone's inconsideration.
The scene is funny looking in from the outside. There's always some staff, professional in a button down shirt (no names included), running through traffic, screaming, "You can't park there!" People vying for position to just get the heck out and home - and I get it. We all look rather silly, I suppose.
Save for one person...in the midst of this living storm that isn't a storm at all (we are blessed to have such troubles), is an older man, a little younger than my grandfather would be if he were still alive...Bob. The crossing guard.
Sometimes if my friend Frank and I got really bad parking, we'd pass Bob and we'd talk to him about something he did with wood that was in the school. We'd compliment and thank him. He liked to talk wood. He was an artisan. An artist. He knew what he was talking about. He is humble.
When Zoe graduated, he gave her a tiny "Zoe Utitus" carved to stand upright for her desk. he made one for every student graduating.T hat's a lot of work!
No, she wasn't graduating college, just grade school, but he made one for EVERY kid who graduated, while crossing them almost everyday of the week, while he was secretly dealing with an ailing wife at home.
It was a token, "For someday, when you are somebody. Don't forget the gentle man who used to safely escort you across the chaos corner. It was an honor to save you from all those road-ragers who took for granted that their lives were still blooming. Remember me. Hold hands. Look both ways. Remember that." and all the while, his "now" wasn't looking so sunny. How petty e must look to this man as we rally, stressed over parking.
I liked the idea that someday, wherever Zoe chooses to put that carving, she'll remember - Bob safely crossing her and her friends on that chaotic corner when life was still innocent. When she still skipped and let me put her hair in a pony tail. I pray she realizes that what he did and does was just as important as anything she was not doing with her life.
My sickness has become a cocoon in which I sleep or protect myself. I go everywhere with this bubble around me - protecting me from the outside world. That bubble would permit me to have small talk with Bob, but typically I block out the rest, and then go stand by a tree alone while waiting for my kid.
Illness makes you selfish like that. I feel my body so much, it is so heavy, that I don't have much time to look up and connect with others anymore. It leaves me stuck in my head, worrying about what is to come.
Peripherally, however, I can see him, crossing people in the snow, wondering how he had the time to do all that work. It turns out that was the least of it. I was hiding in my own head, worrying, and his wife was sick. He never used that to hide from people or from doing the things he loved, like I did. He had everything to worry about - but he didn't, not when it was time for the kids, or time for graduation (to carve all those names).
I cried when I read this letter this morning because it is Tony and I. In many ways I am him AND his beloved wife. Only, I shouldn't compliment myself by comparing me to him or Tony, but I empathize in way only sick families can.
This is the letter that we received from the crossing guard today. Read it; for perspective. For empathy. For strength.
I don't know where my kids will put their name plaques. I don't know if they will ever have the type of job that requires a name thingy. But whatever they do, I pray they always say "thank you" to the Bobs of the world, the people who gently guide them across one tough spot to another, and God I pray they grow up to be just like him. Read it. Bob. This was the only way I knew how to say "thank you" and I know I say it on behalf of all of us at your school. Peace be with you all, especially at 3 PM:
After spending 68 years of my life as part of my wife's life you would think that I knew her completely. Wrong. My wife was an intelligent, loving, caring, and perceiving person. She saw things I never picked up on until recently.
Several years ago Katherine had two serious falls that I believe caused her health to start going downhill. In the last nine months she still had periods of knowing what was going on. She said to me after spending a week in the hospital with a blood clot and two weeks in rehab that there were two things she wanted me to do - keep her at home and stay on this corner. Up until a few weeks ago I managed to do that.
The past ten months have been stressful and tiring but it kept her home. You wish things would turn out better, but we didn't expect to live this long and didn't plan ahead.
Hoping my health will hold up I will stay on the corner. This was like a second family to her and me. I have seen whole families go through Washington School and they have come back during college to say hello to me. I run into parents that were here when I started and they remember me. Gives me a good feeling.
So I say to my second family, thank you for your thoughts, prayers and feelings for my wife; for your generosity and cards for myself and my children.
Thank you, again. Bob Lewis
Click here if you want to see, Jamie Tripp Utitus, the author of Zoe Bowie Sings, Despite All Sad Things, and multiple sclerosis rights advocate speak at Patient's Rising on Feb, 15th in the Bay Area
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