30 September 2008

At the station

Took the kids to see an old steam train that was in town on display for a few days (h/t to Angie). It was just me and the kids. It would've been much better if my father was alive to be with us. He was a railroad engineer for 40+ years and his absence tugged at my heart while the kids ran around and in and out of the train. They never got the opportunity to meet their grandfather, nor he them.

I explained all I knew about the train, but was disappointed in myself that I hadn't paid more attention when my dad explained every gear and gizmo to me because I had the strange notion that he would always be there to give me a refresher course. I do think I impressed a few of the old-timers who were listening to me tell my kids all I knew about the train. Still, there was so much I had forgotten.

That's part of the blessing of having a large family, of growing up learning that pain and suffering are as much a part of life as the small moments that make you smile. I was blessed to have had a very close relationship with my father, appreciated him while he was here and it was a blessing he knew how much I loved him.

Having a large family provides great examples of kindness and charity, selflessness and giving. At times, you also learn some diplomacy and conflict resolution. You learn to share and take turns, to look out for each other. Large families are not easy, but I think they demonstrate nearly all we are supposed to learn and become in this world while preparing us, in a small way, for the next.

I think this, in part, is why I have such a hard time articulating things to my MIL. Her family is not close, they all have insulated themselves from each other. I guess it shouldn't be any wonder to me when she says, does and believes what she does. If she never had opportunities to visit and care for sick relatives, bring food to a cousin who just had a baby, pray for someone's job or health, or weep at countless funerals, then protecting life from conception to natural death is not such a personal, identifiable and valuable thing.

Using a train analogy, the wheels came off a long time ago when their family was splintered by divorce and fell away from the Church. Then it was a fairly easy, though gradual, transition to supporting birth control, euthanasia and abortion. Satan knew full well what he was doing when he attacked the family.

St. Joseph and Blessed Mother, ora pro nobis. Protect our families.


angie said...

Great post Monica! I'm glad you guys got to see the train, we didn't make it (mostly because I forgot)... sounds like it was great.

mum6kids said...

Such true observations. It's sad really. Those who don't take the time to enjoy the children in their family or offer the occasional casorole to a new mum or sick relative miss out in the end.
I'm glad the children enjoyed the trains.

Christine from Maryland said...

Hooray for loving families of ANY size! The number of children doesn't make any difference. What DOES matter is how children are loved and cared for within the family. As a teacher I've had the opportunity to observe close-knit loving families with one child and dysfunctional families with six children. Parents set the tone for the household, and if they ground their families in love and center their lives on God, they can't go wrong. Amen!

Ray from MN said...

What road did your dad work for, Swissie?

My grandpa was a conductor for the DM&IR out of Proctor for 49+ years. Greatest job in the world, being a conductor on a freight railroad, he said. He'd walk over to the yard office in the morning, pick up the train orders, walk over to the engine, hand them to the engineer, and then head for the caboose, where'd he'd grab his dime western novel and continued reading where he had left off the previous day.

At the end of the day he'd take the papers back to the yardmaster and walk home.

swissmiss said...

My dad worked for the Chicago Northwestern (C&NW), but when he started it was the "Omaha", but forget all the letters were, something like CMP&O. I have an old switch key with the letters engraved/stamped on it that I should dig out so I can get it right.

My dad loved his job until the 80s when huge changes happened and they began treating the employess terribly. Pretty soon, the railroad was absorbed by another railroad and all the lines in St. Paul are pretty much gone. Fortunately, my dad retired long before that happened.