Today, a very small group of us gathered to present a gift to our afternoon crossing guard who is retiring. He is a very kind man, but because his English is very limited my conversations with him have likewise been limited to hello, goodbye, thank you, and comments on the weather. In China, I am told, he was an engineer.
As six of us stood around a table, smiling enthusiastically, gesturing at his present (which, naturally, I wrapped), he smiled back and said "thank you." Then he held up the "wait just a minute" finger, as he reached into his inside pocket. He pulled out a small, slightly crumpled piece of paper from which he read, with difficulty, a speech he had written, perhaps with the help of his wife. He said that his work had been a pleasure. That it was unforgettable. That the time he'd spent at the school had been during an important part of his life.
We clapped. By some miracle, I didn't cry. He smiled broadly and shook some hands, but indicated his watch and moved toward the door. He couldn't be loitering around; it was time to pick up his stop sign and head out to the crosswalk.