Photo: My grandson, 5, waves as the parade approaches.

An unexpected reminder

This article appeared in The Winchester Sun on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

I am fortunate to be able to work remotely these days.

There are five of us living in our home: my wife and me, our son, daughter-in-law and grandson.

The rest of the family knows that when I’m in my study working, it’s the same as if I were at the office. They don’t disturb me, but go on about their own business.

This is a useful and necessary state of affairs, but it sometimes keeps me in the dark about the goings-on in the home.

Last Friday was a typical work day here, but it was a beautiful spring day, and all morning I longed to go outside. The family was all out there.

At one point, I took a moment to gaze out the street-facing window of my study to take in the sights outside. I noticed my family members were all writing on the sidewalk with chalk. I watched for a few moments, then went back to my work.

Later, during my lunch break, I took a walk and saw that they had written “HELLO STRODE STATION” on the sidewalk. I didn’t overthink it. I know that several students and at least one teacher from our grandson’s school live in our neighborhood. I figured they were just doing the socially distant version of a friendly greeting.

Sometime later, back in my study, I became aware of a police siren in the distance. As it grew louder, I became concerned. One doesn’t often hear sirens in our quiet little subdivision. Outside the window, I saw the family again gathered by the street, looking toward the sound of the siren.

Naturally, at that point, I headed out to join them and see what all the commotion was about.

It took a few moments for my brain to register what my eyes were seeing. Coming around the corner a couple of blocks down our street was a police cruiser with lights flashing and siren blaring. Behind it was a line of cars decked out with signs, balloons, stuffed animals and other paraphernalia.

As the line of vehicles approached our house, it suddenly dawned on me that I was witnessing an impromptu parade. Apparently, the teachers and staff of Strode Station had organized this event. I later learned that the procession toured the neighborhoods served by the school.

As the parade passed by our house, we all stood by, waving back to the riders as they honked and also waved to us. A few shouted out greetings to the children watching from the sidewalk.

My 5‑year-old grandson, a kindergartener at Strode, had been playing basketball in the driveway as the parade began. I watched as he walked to the foot of the driveway for a better view, then stood there in rapt attention for the duration of the procession. I’ll never forget that image: his basketball tucked under his left arm, he waved with his right hand at the occupants of the passing cars.

To say this was an emotional experience would be the understatement of the year. I work with teachers, and I know the special bond between them and their pupils. I can feel their pain as they miss getting to see them every day, to interact with them, to hug them.

Some of my family members were moved to tears by the experience. I noticed my allergies were acting up at that moment, causing my eyes to water profusely.

Times like these can bring out the best and the worst in people. I prefer to focus on the best.

I am reminded of our shared humanity. We are not Christians, Jews, Muslims and “nones.” We are not Democrats, Republicans and independents. We are not Americans, Italians, Chinese and Mexicans. We are not gay or straight; we are not male, female or trans.

We are humans.

We live. We love. We share. We care.

And we will beat this thing together, as our governor says. We are strong, and we are determined.

Our children deserve no less.

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