Every morning, in my elementary years, rain or shine, my father and I would wait at the corner of 45th Ave. and Kissena Blvd. in Queens, NYC waiting for the yellow school bus to whisk me off to school while most of my classmates were either in bed or eating breakfast.
Many people may believe that New York City is a never sleeping city, always crowded and always busy. The truth is, the early morning hours of NYC are usually quiet and have their own rhythm. The place where I live is always quiet and peaceful in the early morning in the beautiful time before most people begin stirring in bed. However, by the time my father and I were at the bus stop, the city was already waking. The sounds of frantic people chasing their buses, tired people walking their dogs, busy people walking around, angry drivers yelling at each other and honking their horn, and Lina the crossing guard escorting people safely across the streets filled the air.
Even with all the general hubbub and distractions, from far away, I could always spot the school bus approaching. As if on cue, my father would help me adjust my backpack and put it on. Then, just as he finished, the school bus arrived.
What I never understood in elementary school was why my dad would always tell me to go on last. At first, I believed that he merely wanted me to be respectful to others by letting them go on first. Now, I realize that he just wanted to spend as much time as possible with me. As others were boarding the bus, my father whispered, “Behave son. I love you.” I responded, “Dad, I love you too.” I would then give my father a hug. At that moment, my turn came and I walked up the stairs. I quickly hurried into my usual seat (second seat on the right side) and strapped on my seat belt. I looked at the window and as sure as day, my father’s hand was already there. I followed our time-practiced ritual, and I put my hand in front of his.
Even though there was a glass window between us it was almost as if we were actually touching each other, my small hand in his bigger one. For a moment, we were connected as one, and it seemed that all outside noises were filtered out, and the whole world was revolving around the two of us. My mind was calm and full of love, and it seemed to me that we were out of sync with the surroundings. Everybody was moving around with the hectic morning, but we were there as calm as ever.
As the bus roared to life, I watched my dad wave goodbye to me. I leaned back in my seat and felt the warmth of my father’s hand soak into me. I remembered all the things he had done for me. I remembered when it rained, he made sure that he covered me with his umbrella even if he got wet himself. I remembered when it was windy, he protected me and took the wrath of the wind for me. I remembered the scrumptious breakfasts he always prepared for me. I remembered in the winter, my father would always put my clothing on the heater so that in the morning when I woke up, they would warm me up. At the end of my pondering, I would always realize that I was proud to have my father as my father.
The hand on the bus window has aided me in learning what perseverance means. Whenever, I needed help, it always appeared in front of me and gave me the energy and vigor I needed to pursue my quarry.
In 4th grade, I was trying to make into 5th grade band (I played the trombone). I could play the scale, but I could not handle Can-Can, so I threw a tantrum. I started throwing my mouthpiece all over the living room. Then, all of a sudden, my father’s hand appeared in front of me. It gave me courage to continue, and so I did. That night, I practiced for three hours before finally going to bed. I knew that I was ready. The next day, tryouts continued. When I tried, I saw my father’s hand on my stand, and I smiled. I played perfectly that day and I made it into 5th grade band. Afterward, at lunch, I silently thanked my father and his hand for helping me make it into 5th grade band.
November 19th, 2011 was a day I will never forget. It was the day that I attended my grandfather’s funeral. When I looked down at the casket, I felt a sudden pang of sadness overwhelm me. I looked down and remembered my grandfather, a strong, proud and great man who was no more. He was as stiff and cold as stone and that was just more testimony to the death of a great man. All of a sudden, I felt like a young boy so helpless as if any moment now my tear ducts would open and a thousand gallons of salty tears would come pouring out. But then, out of nowhere, a strong warm hand appeared into mine. When my father stood firm next to me, my grief began to ebb, and I was reminded that even though grandpa was gone in this life, he would have a wonderful existence in heaven where he could watch over us and see grandma again.
We all have hands, some hands make masterpieces while others write stories that last for centuries. My father’s hand though rough and coarse has taught me about love, sacrifice and overcoming difficulties. In my life, I will face many difficulties, yet, my father’s hand will carry me to bypass them. I know that one day my dad will leave me physically like my grandfather did. However, I am sure that he will always be with me spiritually. I know that no matter how hard the problem I face is, my father’s hand will give me strengths to overcome it.
Age 12, Grade 7
Hunter College High School