by Dana Carrington
I grew up in a chaotic household. As an adult, my brother was diagnosed as manic-depressive, however as a child I just thought he was a troublemaker. Between my parents getting divorced and my brother constantly creating one type of crisis or another I felt alone and confused.
I made up stories of the kind of life I wanted — to avoid telling people my pain and confusion.
I found peace in a neighborhood church, however by my senior year in high school, even church didn’t help. My mom attended a different church and I felt very lonely watching families sit together, attending mass and youth events.
And, after high school graduation, many people I knew would be moving in separate directions, which only increased my stress and loneliness. Many friendships fell apart around me, as people started preparing themselves to move on with their lives. The drama in my life seemed to be never ending.
Easily one of the kindest people during this time of my life was a custodian at my high school in Minnesota. His name was Bob and he was easily old enough to be my grandfather. He’d been my bus driver when I was younger. Although I drove myself starting in my sophomore year, Bob and I kept up friendly conversations in the hallways at the school.
Bob was kind and took every opportunity to let me know that he cared, even waving at me while I sat in class if he passed by in the hall. Bob gave me a big hug on a few occasions when I really needed a hug, but mostly he simply helped me smile when I felt there wasn’t a reason to smile. He always gave a kind word, a wave, or a smile, and seemed genuinely happy to just see me.
At the end of my senior year in 1988, I was looking for a summer job. Bob’s wife offered to put in a good word for me at her company. Although I found a different job that paid more, I was honored that — of all the students Bob knew — he and his wife took the time to help me.
I wish I had kept in touch with Bob when I went off to college. Although it’s been almost 20 years, I still think of Bob fairly often. I hope that he, and his family he loved so dearly, had a wonderful life. He truly helped me relax even on the worst of days.
I wish Bob had been able to receive an award that showed people truly realized that he was an incredibly insightful man who loved his job, cared about the students — especially those that needed a kind soul to care about them.