by cindy

I visited my dad over the weekend. He’s 91 and he is struggling to face life without my mom who died sixteen months ago. His steps are now a shuffle; his posture is no longer straight. Were it not for his cane, he would surely topple forward. Once a vibrant force-of-nature, he now finds it difficult to remember what he ate for lunch. Or what book he is reading. Or where he placed his mail.

When we take him for drives out in the country, though, we discover that he remembers all sorts of things, things that happened eight and nine decades ago. He remembers, for example, this old railroad trestle not far from where he grew up in Lost Creek, WV.

He remembers how he and his older brother used to walk over the trestle and along the tracks.

“Dad,” I ask, “What did you do when a train came along?”

He grins. “Well, we ran like hell, that’s what we did!”

We visit because we can. We visit because we should. We visit because we want to bring some light into his days. It is not easy being there to witness his frustration with life as he now knows it. To be present, however, as he shares his stories—stories of the life he knew long, long ago—is truly a gift.

I would be remiss if I did not also tell you that had my siblings and I EVER been caught walking over a trestle that high or sauntering along the railroad tracks, he would’ve shot us.