Last year, due to the pure luck of habit and timing — after breakfast making, lunch packing, shower wrangling, traffic, etc. — I started to arrive at work at the approximate moment when a father and his son took their final steps up Bloomfield Avenue to reach our school’s crosswalk and the traffic light that controlled it. In my usual arrival window, I witnessed this walk more often than not.
Sometimes the light was red, so the son crossed left. Sometimes it was green, so he pushed the button and waited with his father a few more beats before leaving, left. Always these familial walkers seemed so genuinely and sweetly content — similar stride, similar height, similar mug. Always they parted with what seemed like respect and acknowledgement. A pat on the back, a handshake, a smile, or the escaped birds of a good shared laugh.
I can’t say for certain that they were happy. I can’t say for certain that they were agreeing or agreeable. But what I can say — with utter certainty — is that they spent most of the days of the son’s senior year walking alongside each other on the way to his school.
Somehow, for me, the story gained a layer when I learned that the father was an executive at a big, global corporation. On paper at least, he was supposed to be busy. Important. A tough negotiator. Accomplished.
Off paper, I have no idea — except for the last word. He was an accomplished father, for sure, just because he kept showing up, kept walking alongside his son, did so openly and publicly. School, for me at least, always started when I saw these two. The lessons as simple as showing up, putting one foot in front of the other, grounding relationship in ritual, rain, snow, sleet, or shine.