The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter, the soul heals with joy.” — Proverb
Stansbury resident Louisa Norman has seen this simple truth play out in her life over the last several years when devastation grabbed a hold of her, but then a ray of opportunity pierced the clouds, giving her a chance to play, laugh and in the end find joy again.
What’s unique about this circumstance is that you would never guess when you see Norman three times a day at a street crossing near Stansbury Elementary School, shuttling youngsters from sidewalk to sidewalk, that this is the source of her newfound joy. Yep, she’s a crossing guard, and it’s one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
“I love it,” Norman said. “It’s the best job ever.”
Three years ago, Norman was in a bad place. Her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away quickly.
“I was so depressed,” she said. “I hated getting up in the morning, and then I would go to sleep until the kids got out of school, and I would make dinner and then go back to sleep. It was terrible.”
Not long after, the crossing guard who chatted with Norman occasionally when she took her kids to school suggested that she apply to be a substitute crossing guard. Why not, she thought, and soon found herself substituting for that same crossing guard when she fell ill, and subsequently was hired on full time at the same post.
Then, by perhaps an act of providence, Norman dressed up in costume one day during the morning crossing and was greeted by shear delight by the children frequenting her post. Not only was this a chance to connect with the kids, but unbeknownst to her at the time, it also started to push the gloom away and bring some joy back into her life.
“I didn’t always want to dress up,” Norman said. “But it would really get me out of my funk.”
Then 15 months after the passing of her father, Norman’s mother was also diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away shortly thereafter.
While their passing feels like yesterday and the pain is still very present in her life, she credits her job as a jovial crossing guard as the compass that steered her past some of her grief.
That’s because making people happy is the key to finding happiness yourself, she said. And that’s evident in the daily interactions Norman has with young students. Even on a rainy, dreary day, Norman can be seen with her long hair pulled up around a balloon to mimic a Who from Dr. Seuss’ Whoville, giving high-fives and words of encouragement to youngsters hurrying across the street toward the school. She knows the name of each child and typically remembers things about them too.
She claims to be have the type of personality that clams up around adults but that flourishes around kids, but really her bubbliness is infectious all around, with even passing motorists cracking a grin at her Evil Knievel costume complete with a stars and stripes-covered helmet and white polyester cape and pants.
She doesn’t dress up every morning, trying to draw less attention to herself on days she heads over to the school to volunteer after her shift. But for all those other days when she needs a pick me up, adults and kids alike may have noticed other ensembles, including a bee keeper, Maleficent, a black widow spider, a doctor, clown, Batman, Luke and even Darth Vader holding up the red sign.
“It’s been good for me,” she said. “It’s nice to make people smile.”