003. Mrs. Bush: The Power of Belief

Mrs. Bush: The Power of Belief

Mrs. Bush: The Power of Belief

Mrs. Bush and the Safety Patrol: The Power of Belief

Michael J. Genevro
(Early 2003)

"We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time."
(from T.S. Eliot "Four Quartets")

Life is a circle - so often a vicious circle of frustration and repeated mistakes - but, sometimes, I catch a glimpse of something beyond the mistakes - something at the core of my life experience that becomes a doorway to a different world - a doorway that is always there, if I but pass through its boundaries.

Lord, was it really 40 years ago?

Where did the time go? Every day seems so full, so rich, so demanding, and, yes, so exhausting, but 40 years have gone.

I don't remember posing for the aging photograph. I don't remember anyone taking the picture, but there it is.

The picture was probably taken in the spring of 1962 during my eighth grade year at Nativity School. There is the young lieutenant, the head of the safety patrol duty that day, standing rigid, captured in time and memory. Behind him stand the patrol members, young boys, now middle-aged men, no doubt, with balding heads, graying hair and protruding bellies - the companions of my youth, alive in my memories.

Mrs. B stands at the rear left of the patrol - the adult figure responsible for the patrol.

Next to Mrs. B stands a young boy, just beginning to emerge from childhood. He wears the Nativity School uniform - but no badge, no safety patrol cap or belt, no stop sign, no symbol of authority. I look into his eyes and I see a seriousness - an earnestness - far beyond his youth. I look into his eyes and see myself - yesterday, today, and, I pray, tomorrow. He looks out of place - almost like he had wandered into the picture, a kind of safety patrol groupie - but he is the "Generator" (as Dr. Cutter called him at the moment of his birth) - the organizer, the implementer - the translator of Mrs. B's vision into reality. He is out of place, and yet, at his best, he is the glue that holds the picture together, the agent, the organizer that transforms a hope, a vision, into a living, breathing reality.

What can I say about Mrs. B? She was a beautiful woman, the mother of one of the students at Nativity School, a grade ahead of me. She was also one of those extraordinary people in my life who saw something special in me and gave me the chance to live up to my potential. She believed in me - when I did not even know who "I" was.

A few years before the picture was taken, she made me a sergeant in the safety patrol, then a lieutenant responsible for the one-person patrol on Glenwood Avenue. Later, she made me the captain of the patrol. In that role, I scheduled the patrols. I literally and figuratively held the key to the functioning of the patrol. Every morning, every afternoon, rain or shine, I opened the door of patrol room. Every morning, every evening, I did whatever it took to ensure that the patrol was on duty and then blended into the background, just another face in the crowd.

What can I say about Mrs. B? She was not rich. She was not famous. She did not change the world, but she changed my life. Today, more than 40 years later, whenever I think about my work as a project manager, the image in the safety patrol photo comes to my mind; Mrs. B remains an integral part of that image.

What can I say about Mrs. B? ...

A few years after the picture was taken, Mrs. B died.

I don't understand why so many good people die so young.

Mrs. B died too young - leaving a painful hole, but a beautiful memory and a promise of hope - a testament to a brief life well-spent.