You don’t need to win an Academy Award to make a splash in the movie of someone’s life.
I was reminded of this when I read Sam’s obituary in the Trail Times. As many readers will remember, Sam worked for the Village of Warfield. As a village homeowner, I quickly came to respect Sam for the precision and efficiency with which he did his job, but I remember him most vividly from my childhood days.
As children, we referred to Sam as “Sam, the grader man”, a nickname that expressed our universal liking for the man with whom most of us had never spoken. We called Sam “the grader man” because he operated the grader, which in those days, doubled as the snowplow.
The grader was a noisy, brute of a machine, and for some of us little kids trudging to and from school on a winter’s day, the grader would have been terrifying except for Sam. Whenever I heard the grader, I would pray that “Sam, the grader man” was on duty.
When I saw Sam at the controls, I always breathed a bit easier because Sam would pull the grader with its massive and frightening blade over to the side, and pause to let us pass. If for some reason he could not do this, he would slow down, make eye contact with us, and wave as if to say, “Don’t worry. I see you.” Sam’s wave allayed our fears of the adult world and reassured us that our little lives mattered.
Sam was not the only grown up who made a splash as a minor actor in the movie of my childhood. Two women readily come to mind. One was my first grade catechism teacher, and while I remember only one lesson from that year, I will always remember the teacher’s warmth, gentleness and kindness.
The other sponsored a sodality for teenage girls. We prayed around her kitchen table and discussed moral-ethical issues. More than any specific topic, I remember her non-judgmental approach that challenged us to expand our viewpoints, improve our relationships, and nurture our souls. In the movie of my life, Sam and these two women were like actors who make memorable cameo appearances. While they wouldn’t qualify for an Oscar, to my childhood eyes, Sam and these women were celebrities. They walked humbly and acted kindly and in doing so, they graced my childhood world in a unique way.
Often, as a society, we obsess over the rich and famous, yet the chances are remote that any celebrity will influence us personally in a lasting way. More often than not, the people most deserving of our admiration are right in front of us; they are the Sams of our life, and our movie would be less without them.
The film of my life will never be “Best Picture” material, but perhaps somewhere within my daily and ordinary existence, there will be an Oscar winning performance, one small scene where I will leave an indelible impression on someone with whom I briefly crossed paths.
Trail, BC resident, Louise McEwan is a freelance religion writer with degrees in English and Theology. She has a background in education and faith formation. Her blog is www.faithcolouredglasses.blogspot.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org