News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists


Long journey begins with single step

The school bus that stopped each school day outside Wright Deas’ second-floor bedroom window didn’t seem all that large. Not until Monday when its doors swung open and invited our eldest grandchild aboard.

From his window, the yellow bus cast an inviting glow on his budding emergence; no more booster car seats.

Wright looked forward to that day when he would scramble aboard. He had watched the gathering of children below his window each morning of the school year and saw the bus disgorge them in the afternoon.

Kindergarten was to be neat but riding the bus was to be his next great adventure.

But Monday morning that walk across the street to the bus stop was longer than he had imagined. The friendly yellow bus threatened him.

The bus was longer, higher and wider than Wright remembered from the spring when it unloaded students on the final day of school.

Wright stood at one of those forks in the road people of all ages travel. Would he take a detour or live his dream and get aboard, even as scary as that moment was to him?

He had a cheering section he couldn’t let down, too. The entire cul de sac turned out for the event, with doughnuts and Starbucks coffee.

He held back the tears; his father held back his mom, who held back her tears and he timidly went into the bowels of this great bus.

“He looked so pitiful sitting there all alone,” Mary Grace said later.

That first step onto the bus turned out to be a gigantic leap. He’d made a new friend, sat with an old friend on the bus ride home, and had money in his pocket by the time he returned.

The money was for his milk at lunch but when the cafeteria cashier gave him the option of getting it free, he opted not to pay.

The threatening tears of morning morphed into high fives for his family that afternoon.

In all, it wasn’t a bad first day.

Tom Wright is executive editor.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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