Every morning when my eight-year-old would get on the bus, he was greeted by a jubilant, "HELLO, CAEL! How are you, buddy?" "Hi, John!" Cael would excitedly respond, and then he would launch into his signature nonstop talking about anything and everything.
On that fifteen to twenty minute ride to school, John and Cael would discuss the Arizona Cardinals' latest win or loss; which bus they had that day; which busses were broken down; when Cael had a visit from the tooth fairy; the trip Cael had taken over the weekend; what Santa brought for Christmas; John's Cubs' World Series hat; and on and on and on.
They also discussed John's upcoming retirement from driving the bus.
I don't know who was more saddened by this news: Cael or his parents.
That greeting each weekday morning started Cael's day off with joy.
That short ride to school demonstrated John's patience and willingness to listen.
That interest in a little boy's life helped Cael feel special.
John would let him shut the bus door and be his little helper. He gave Cael jobs to do, which helped him to be responsible and to feel needed.
I observed all of this from the slightly ajar front door or from the window every day, and every day I smiled and felt a wave of gratitude that this bus driver was sent into the life of my son.
The amazing thing is, I know that John was this way with many of the children. I'm not the only mom who saw the way he treated the kids. He is an example of the Light of Christ that can be shared in small and simple ways. He is an example of how we should treat others in our lives. He is an example of the teaching of our Savior in Matthew, chapter 25, verse 40: "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done unto me."
John Poe is much more than a bus driver. He took his job and used it to reach out and to make someone else happy. His impact on my son's life and on ours will forever be etched in our hearts.
Being an only child, Cael has no siblings, but he now has an eternal brother, thanks to one man's selfless and giving soul.