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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

My commute has always been a source of inspiration for me.

When I lived in Philadelphia, I would watch people on the bus and wonder what their lives were like.

Here in Delaware, where we drive everywhere, I have less time to watch and more miles to drive, but still, I find inspiration.

I just have to absorb it faster.

On Monday morning, I was behind a bright yellow school bus. The weather was dreary, and the bus nearly glowed because of it.

The red hazard lights blinked and the stop sign folded out from the side of the bus.

I slowed my Hyundai to a stop.

On the other side of the street, a grizzled old man waited patiently for the bus to stop.

He wore a dirty neon safety vest, jeans, and worn-out construction boots.

He held his grandson’s hand.

The little boy was clean and well-dressed, with a hopeful, excited look on his face.

The man held the boy’s hand firmly and waited until traffic came to a complete stop on both sides of the road.

The old man looked both ways, daring any of us to move. Then he held the little boy close and they stepped into the street.

The old man didn’t walk as much as he shuffled from one foot to the other.

He was hunched. His pain was palpable.

The little boy paced himself, remaining alongside his grandfather as they made their way across the street.

The old man said something to the boy, and the little boy smiled up at him and laughed.

Still, the old man remained vigilant.

When they got to the other side of the street, the little boy hugged his grandfather and got on the bus.

The old man, still hunched, shuffled around the bus and crossed the road to the beat-up car that would carry him off to work.

There was so much love in that ordinary moment.

The little boy was so precious to the old man.

And the old man’s purpose was clear: to see that his grandson was on the bus and on his way to get an education.

Before he got into the car, the old man turned and waved goodbye to his tiny grandson.

I found myself thinking about the hopes and dreams of that little boy, and that a long time ago, the old man was a little boy with similar hopes and dreams.

Then, clearly, I saw it.

As a child, this old man wanted what all of us wanted as children: to do something special with his life.

To be a hero. An astronaut, maybe, or a soldier.

He wanted to do something important.

He didn’t hope to work until he was nearly 70 years old.

He didn’t dream of wearing dirty clothes and worn out shoes.

He didn’t hope to be in pain.

But life happens, and he adjusted his hopes and dreams to match it.

At some point, he realized not everybody can be an astronaut.

But he is a hero to one single person: his grandson.

To the little boy, the old man is his protector.

His defender.

His knight in shining armor.

The old man’s hopes and dreams were realized because of his love for one little boy.

They just took a little longer to come true.

Esther Hofknecht Curtis is an independent writer from Smyrna, Delaware. Go to https://www.facebook.com/TheArdentReader19977/ to learn more.

Book nerd and freelance writer finding gold in ordinary places. Email me at ejhcurtis@gmail.com Visit https://www.facebook.com/TheArdentReader19977/

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