NORMAN — Editor’s note: The following story was submitted to the Transcript’s annual Christmas story contest.
Of course we all know with the holidays, come the warm, happy memories of our childhood.
For me those memories drift back to Norman, the sweet little town I grew up in. It was a place where people greeted each other as they passed, not necessarily because they knew each other by name, but because it was the kind and friendly thing to do.
Most of us had devoted families, many good friends, few real fears, and absolutely no concerns about the future of our town or the country.
With all these blessings, I had a very special one. His name was Willis. For five years, every single morning he was at the bus stop at exactly the same time. Not only did he drive the school bus, he gave us much more than a ride to and from school.
He would always be watching as I crossed the highway and then the tiny park. Usually I was just a little late and always I would drop my school books at least once.
Still he would smile asking if I had my lunch and homework.
Each afternoon, he would again be there with the same smile. Always he would ask how I did on my math test or what was the most exciting thing that happened that day at school?
Never, and I mean never, would he leave your bus stop if a parent were not waiting. Even if it meant others had to wait for a long time.
As you walked away, he would leave you with that wonderful smile (you know the kind — ear to ear, with a lot of heart in between), and the words, “sweet dreams” or “I‘ll see you tomorrow.”
Each of us on that bus loved Willis. Although he never told us, he loved us, too. We just knew; he lived it.
Not only did he give us love, he gave us something just as important — a sense of value.
And now, 65 years later, through living in two different countries and 15 different states, I still carry that feeling with me.
So again, this Christmas as with every Christmas past, I will count my blessings —and you can certainly count on one thing, high on my list there will still be the very same name — Willis.