When You Know Your Worth No One Can Make You Feel Worthless – Because You Really Do Matter.

Unsung Hero


I have been driving to and from my daughter’s elementary school for the past 5 years. The school isn’t in a walking distance, so I never happened to walk to the school.

All these years, twice a day, I received a grand salute and a toothless grin from the crossing guard, Ivan.  Ivan, a septuagenarian, enjoyed his job a great deal and I heard that he had been a crossing guard most of his life.  He was posted at the exit and did his most and the best in keeping the children and families safer at the cross walk. 

He never forgot or missed flashing that lovable smile and the hearty salute to every passerby –even if they were in a car or strangers to him.

I didn’t even know his name until two weeks ago. I referred him to my daughter as “thatha” for grandpa in my mother tongue. My daughter found out his name from her friend and told me.  Rain or shine, Ivan was always there with stop sign in one hand and an umbrella in the other. When his hands were full he raised the stop sign and gave that grand salute.

For the past few days, I didn’t see Ivan at the cross walk. Instead, everyday there was a new person helping people cross the road.  Initially I didn’t pay much attention to Ivan’s absence. When he continued to be absent, I thought maybe he was on a vacation or unwell.  Almost 3 weeks passed by and I started to feel his absence. At one point my normal missing feeling turned into a concern. I asked my daughter but she had no information to share with me.

I couldn’t wait anymore. I grew anxious and wanted to ask someone about Ivan.  One day, I went to the school early and parked my car and walked to the lady posted in Ivan’s place.  Upon talking to her I found that Ivan passed away a week ago due to some illness.  She also told me that Ivan had no family or relatives and he shared an apartment with another crossing guard.  Last month he developed some congestion which grew into some serious health condition. No medicines would work and one fine morning he didn’t see the sun. While I was listening to her, my heart tightened and a strange feeling churned in my stomach and I couldn’t stand there for another moment. I thanked the lady and walked to my car and picked up my daughter. Tears trickled down my cheeks and I felt as though I lost my own Thatha. I had to explain to my daughter why I was sad and crying. 

My daughter said, “We have to pray for him for helping everybody cross the street.”

Absolutely. Ivan, I miss you so much forever remembering your pure smile, your hearty salute, and care for the children and families.  My prayers are with you every minute and forever. Thanks for everything you did for us, Ivan.

Ivan was a real soldier who spent his whole life protecting our children from dangers and accidents. Indeed, service was joy for him. Now, it’s my turn to salute him every day, twice a day, imagining him standing in the same place flashing that lovable toothless grin.


Comments on: "Unsung Hero" (21)

  1. What a beautiful tribute to this crossing guard, Priya! You should send a copy to the school office.

  2. Wow Priya
    Your blog bought tears to my eyes. There are so many people that effect our lives and none of us have time to think about them and how they have helped us over time. We go on with our lives and take things for granted.
    A BIG THANK YOU to all cross guards for keeping our children’s safety a priority.

  3. Priya, I’m sure Ivan felt the joy in service that you quoted.

  4. That was beautiful! We have a crossing guard who is quite similar in that he ALWAYS waves and says hi (whether you’re in your car or on the sidewalk). Thank you for sharing this…

  5. Thanks your compliments, Clysta

  6. Priya,
    This is the heart touching story. I never used to miss to wave my hand to the crossing guard at my daughters school. I used to feel I waved at a celebrity on the red carpet.
    Very expressively written.
    I think I will improve my reading skills. I never read more than 4,5 lines in a book.
    I can’t wait to see more inspiring stories.
    All the best.
    With love,

  7. Very true. We often forget such people. This reminds me, next week is teacher appreciation week, i should probably go and appreciate the crossing guard also. Thanks for sharing, Priya.

  8. Beautiful Soul. Beautifully Said.

  9. Priya,
    Your seemingly effortless thoughtfulness for everyone else is heart-warming. You are the living expression of “Give to others, and you shall receive all that God has to give”.

    God is certainly shining down upon you, and it is true that “more will be revealed”…

    Today IS A GIFT and that is why it is called “The Present”!

    Best to you in all you do,

    • Thanks for your warm and kind words, Lynda. I learned a bit of giving back to the society from you. You do a lot for the needy. May God give you that strength forever.

  10. What a lovely post. It sounds like Ivan had found the key to taking joy in his job and his life. Many people would have found such work beneath them, but Ivan brought his whole self to it.

    He’ll be missed, but he’ll be remembered because of his joy. This is a good reminder for all of us…whatever you set your hands to, find joy in it and your actions will go beyond the demands of the job — they’ll touch hearts.

  11. Sangeeta Bhagwan said:

    Ivan really was an unsung hero but you brought him to our notice. Thank You!!

  12. amruta hema said:

    Hi sis,

    U brought unsung hero to my notice to feel n thank about him always who protected the children from unwanted situation.v all pray for his soul.

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