We were a very non-descript crowd of people who took the bus every day many years ago. During the early morning ride from the suburb, we sat drowsily - a cheerless bunch. One of the passengers was a small grey man who took the bus to the center for senior citizens every morning. He walked with a stoop and a sad look on his face when he, with some difficulty, boarded the bus and sat down alone behind the driver. No one ever paid much attention to him. Then one day, he said good morning to the driver and smiled down the bus before he sat down. The driver nodded guardedly. The rest of us were silent.

The next day; the old man boarded the bus energetically, smiled and said in a loud voice: "A very good morning to you all!" Some of us looked up and murmured "Good morning". During the following weeks, our friend was dressed in a nice old suit and tie. His thin hair had been carefully combed. He said good morning to us every day and we gradually began to nod and talk to each other. One morning, he had a bunch of wild flowers. The driver smiled and asked: "Have you got yourself a girlfriend, Charlie?". He nodded shyly and said yes. The other passengers whistled and clapped at him. Charlie bowed and waved the flowers before he sat down.

Every morning after that, Charlie brought a flower. Some of the passengers began bringing him flowers, gently nudged him and said shyly "Here." Everyone smiled. The men started to joke about it, talk to each other and share the newspaper. One morning, Charlie wasn't waiting at his usual stop. When he wasn't there the next day and the day after that, we started wondering if he was sick or -- hopefully -- on holiday somewhere.

When we came nearer to the senior citizens centre, one of the passengers asked the driver to wait. We all watched as she went to the door. Yes, the staff said, they knew who we were talking about. The elderly gentleman was fine but he hadn't been coming to the centre that week. One of his very close friends had died at the weekend. They expected him back on Monday. We were silent the rest of the way to work.

The next Monday; Charlie was waiting at the stop, stooping a bit more, a little bit more grey and not wearing his suit and tie. The bus was completely silent. Even though no one had talked about it, all those of us on who he had made such an impression, sat with our eyes filled with tears and a bunch of wild flowers in our hands.