Mel, a rural school bus driver, would rise before the sun to wend his way along quiet country roads. And, his acts of kindness were as bright as the sun in the lives of the children he served. In fact, he hasn’t driven the big yellow bus for more than 15 years now, but his goodness still shines in the hearts of those he served. You see, Mel never saw himself as driving a bus exclusively; he saw himself as a vehicle, a deliverer of goodness.
In the darkness of early morning, I would stare into the black, watching for a good view of Mel’s school bus lights. He completed his path in a timely way every morning, timelier than we would be, as we hurried our children to be ready for his arrival. There were lots of days when he would wait patiently in front of our house, knowing that in a few moments the front door would spit out a couple of dashing kids. Then there was one day in particular when only one of our girls emerged to walk the path toward his bus. So of course, he walked a different path on a later day as well.
One late afternoon revealed a smiling Mel, striding up our sidewalk with his hands gripping a bouquet of balloons and a small stuffed companion. He came to give hope and express his loving nature to our daughter, who had just returned from a hospital stay and was battling a severe eye infection. To this day, we believe he is one of the reasons she recovered fully and didn’t lose that eye to blindness. She looked forward to the day when she could be back on his bus each morning and afternoon.
One day I asked my girls if they minded being two of the first ones on his bus in the morning and virtually the last ones to get off in the afternoon because of the design of Mel’s route. They had a quizzical look on their faces and said, “No! We really like it!” Mel created an atmosphere they cherished and looked forward to five days each week. He acted as their sunshine when there was none because of the early hour or because of a storm.
During a recent winter storm, I walked up the road in front of my home, with our little dog tethered to my hand. It was in the early morning and I watched a big yellow bus approach. I looked hopefully in the window to catch a glimpse of the driver. I knew it wasn’t Mel driving. But even in the cold darkness of an early morning winter storm, I saw Mel was still delivering goodness into the depths of my heart as I remembered him with fondness.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.