Written by Carol Waldman Friday, 07 August 2009 00:00
In the early morning hours, when most of the world was just beginning to turn over for a few more hours of sleep, George Leckie’s day would be well under way. As a veteran bus driver for the Glen Cove Senior Center for over 30 years, George knew his responsibilities, he knew his buses, he knew his roads, and most importantly, he knew his seniors. It was one of his seniors who called me three weeks ago in tears to say we had lost him forever.
Through all the years I have been working with an older population, I have come to understand that there is no language for loss, only for life. Where does one begin to describe a life as impactful as George’s? He did all the big things people are recognized and commended for – fought for his country, devoted himself to his family, supported his community. But it is really in the quiet corners of life that George shone – in the gentle hand he extended to a senior in need, or special smile he would put on someone’s face after teasing them that would change the course of their day. With his humor and artist’s soul, George knew how to make you feel good; with his expertise, he knew how to make you feel safe and with his worldly experience, great book knowledge and healthy perspective, he made you stop to think about what really mattered in life, In the end, to all of us at the Senior Center, he was a real friend.
George not only worked wonders behind a wheel with patience and good judgment, he knew how to negotiate a dance floor. It was at his very special retirement party that we danced our last Lindy together. As he twirled me around to Take the A Train I watched him smile. He looked around the room, filled with seniors and staff he had known and loved for decades, and with bittersweet fondness and a twinkle in his eye, he took his last bow.
Thankfully, George went on to live out other dreams and build new families. We just feel lucky to have been a part of one of them.
Blessing us with another wonderful driver, George has left a legacy of talent, patience and compassion. But as Tilman Brown steps in the driver’s seat each morning, he knows there is a beacon of light he follows, and that is George.