Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Greatest Journey of All



Daddy's "engineer" cap, journal and photograph.  The photograph was taken on a train, naturally!

Eight years ago today, my father took his greatest journey.
Daddy developed a love for trains in the early 1960's, and it grew only larger and deeper over the next 40 years. 
Daddy not only rode trains, he listened to trains!
You might pass our typical 3 bedroom brick house, located in your average middle class neighborhood, and double check to make sure you were not standing on the platform of a depot somewhere.
Recordings of actual trains were known to thunder past the front door or through the windows every now and then.  More than likely, my sister and I were barricaded in our bedrooms attempting to drown out his "music" with our radios blasting the top tunes of the day.  Mother, as mothers do, learned to tune us all out.

Our family vacations were always by train -- even if the itinerary first demanded that we fly or drive to board a train to our final destination.
Yes, Daddy loved his trains!

This is his handwritten log of his railroad travels, beginning in November 1964.
Daddy was an accountant.  Columns, ledgers, numbers and keeping records were his idea of fun.

The Number of Family column was almost always filled with the number 4.

 That would later change to 2, as my sister and I left for colleges, careers and marriages.
The destinations also began to extend overseas.

Following Mother's death in 1994, the number changed to 1, or more often "H" for Harley.

Daddy was on an excursion to Canada and Alaska when our country was attacked on 9-11.
The trip was cut short and the tour group remained in Denali Park, Alaska for a few days. 
On September 13, when commercial flights were again in the skies, Daddy flew home.  It was his last trip -- train or otherwise.
Over the course of years, in the United States and abroad, Daddy rode 463 trains, covering 120, 647 miles.
On that day eight years ago, I knew he was preparing for another journey.  I heard a train whistle outside his hospice window.  He climbed aboard for the greatest journey ever.  One that reunited him with my mother and sister.  Destination Heaven.
I thought I missed you then, I never knew how much I would miss you now.

Life is like a journey taken on a train, with a pair of travelers at each window pane.
I may sit beside you all the journey through, or I may sit elsewhere never knowing you.
But if Fate should mark me to sit at your side, let's be pleasant travelers --
it's so short a ride.
A writing found in my father's desk.  Author unknown.

18 comments:

Brynwood Needleworks said...

Jan:
I just finished sharing this post with Handsome. His father used to keep ledgers like this, too. Not for train rides, but for family finances, and other things that were important to him. This post is such a lovely tribute to your father. How very fortunate you were. Thank you for sharing this most intimate part of life with your daddy.
Love,
Donna

Kathy V said...

Oh Jan, what a beautiful tribute to your Daddy. (((HUGS))) to you today!!

Kathy V

Cheryl M. said...

Yes, Jan, this is a beautiful tribute to your daddy.

db said...

Jan - you have such a magnificent way of expression. Your story - poignant and beautiful. Hope you are feeling well and healing. You are in my thoughts daily

Martha said...

What a wonderful tribute. Thank you for sharing it. HUGS, anniversaries are always bittersweet.

ShirleyC said...

That is an incredible story. Thanks for sharing. Don't we all wish we kept records like that! I think we would be amazed at the things we do in a lifetime.
I love the quote at the end.

Mary Margaret Scott said...

Thinking of you and Granddaddy today, Aunt Jan. Beautifully written blog, and neat pictures of his log. :) Thanks for sharing.

Jan said...

Oh, Donna, you should have seen all the ledgers in our house. I especially remember the one in the car. We had to write down every drop of gas purchased, where it was purchased, the car mileage at the time, and the price per gallon. As I wrote this post, I wondered what happened to all those logs? They were kept in the same type of bound book in the glove compartment. Such sweet memories of our fathers and fathers-in-law!

Karen said...

I am smiling through tears. What a lovely post about your daddy. I miss mine, too. He died Feb. 13, 2006. I think about him and miss him everyday.

Beedeebabee said...

Oh Jan, This just touched me to tears. What a lovely post about your sweet father. I lost mine 2 1/2 years ago, and like you, I miss him more than words could ever say. I'm so sorry your mom and sis are gone also, how heartbreaking...My hubby is a locomotive engineer. I'll ask him to toot his whistle for your dad tonight. Sending a big hug, xo Paulette

Rettabug said...

Oh Jan...now you've got ME tearing up! Such a neat glimpse into your Dad's life & pleasures.
My Mom was the record keeper in our family. Voracious epistles of each vacation with, like your Dad, mileage, gas prices (shock!!) and persons along for the ride.

Thanks for making me remember all those wonderful trips & notes.

fondly,
Rett

Beedeebabee said...

It's me again Jan...I was just reading some of your prior posts and read about your eyes and the surgery you just went thru and the one still to come. I hope you feel better soon, and the surgery is successful. Keeping you close in my thoughts and prayers. xo Paulette

Julia said...

What a lovely, touching post. I lived next to a railroad track when I was growing up. I've not ridden a train too often, but I love the sound of the whistle. How fitting that this was the setting for his last trip.

Robin Hart said...

What a fabulous tribute. I really know how much you miss him as we have often shared. May he be with you in spirit over the next few weeks.

Cindy said...

Jan....such a sweet story about your dad!!! Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

Cheryl M. said...

Jan, my parents have kept gasoline purchase logs their entire marriage of 53 years...they still keep them...:)

Rachel said...

I am just seeing this now, lazy days on the beach! What a wonderful gift for writing you have. Thank you for sharing the gift of your daddy with all of us.

The French Bear said...

What a wonderful post, I really was touched by your caring and loving words......
It has touched my heart.
Hugs,
Margaret B

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