Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Traveler at Heart

This past weekend I was driving near our old home place. Off in the distance I heard the mournful sound of a freight train blowing the horn for the Old Dora crossing. I think it was in the key of C. It reminded of my childhood in West Pratt.
My dad did hard work all his life and often in summer after the sun set but before the shadows gave into darkness, he would sit on the front porch in an old handmade rocking chair and listen for the trains.
He married my mom when he was fairly young and soon my older brother came along. Not long after that, my older sister was born. He had a young family to feed and didn't have much time to think about life outside rural Alabama or what it would be like to ride the rails to places he'd never been.
We had an old tube radio that sat on a dresser in the living room and on some Saturday nights when the stars were lined up just right we could pick up WSM a.m. radio from the Ryman Auditorium. On those nights, my dad was in heaven.
In later years my dad did get to travel a little. As a welder his company sent him to Louisiana a few times and to Texas once or twice. When he returned he seemed a little taller and his spirit was lifted for a time. But then it was back to the daily grind.
I feel like he sometimes wondered to himself about what he had missed out on getting married so young and having a family. But leaving was not an option to him. So he worked on. I know he loved us all, but he was a traveler at heart. He passed away in 1986.
This past weekend as I listened to the sound of the train, I tried to imagine him sitting up front by the engineer riding the rails to Memphis and points west.

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