January 10, 2011

Waiting for the Train

Dear Tom Selleck . . .

I had a blog for nearly 4 years.  I'll spare you the details of its life story, but there were a few things I wrote that will be important for you to read in order to set the stage for your big role.  I have included the first post I ever wrote because it sums things up nicely.  Personally, I think it would make a great opening scene accompanied by John Denver's Country Roads playing in the background.  Don't worry that this will be a tear-jerking drama though, there is plenty of comic relief to go around if you stick with me long enough.

It's a cold, damp, grey and gloomy day as we jump from the car and run to catch the train.  I have no idea what the hell is going on and why it's so important, but we have to hurry, we cannot miss this train!

Where is my mother?  My dad has my sister in his arms and me by the hand tripping over the gravel, "Come on Sis, run".  Although I am hand in hand with my giant father, I can see the whole scene from behind as if my dad has pulled my body into the future and left my soul in the past.  I have on my light blue jacket, the one the goats tried to eat at the petting zoo.  All aboard!  Oh shit, we're going to miss the train.  All aboard!

There's my mom.  She's running toward us.  No, right past us to the guy with the funny hat who keeps yelling.  All aboard!  She hands him our tickets and motions the rest of us to follow.  My dad pulls me up those steep steps onto the train just as my soul catches up to my body.  We settle into our seats where my mom has already plopped down and is waving to us.  I use the term 'settle' loosely because it was anything but settling at the time.  The under the breath talk between my parents starts about how much, how long, where are we going, I don't know, I thought you knew, and . . . cut to smiles for the kids.

This is supposed to be so much fun.  But I feel it.  My mom is in anxiety mode, my dad is masking it with his whistling, and my sister just sits there mute and smiling.  Oh - and me?  What was I doing?  Well singing of course.  I sang Country Roads over and over again to try and make everyone happy.  It didn't transform anyone but my dad who sang with me and whose eyes sparkled with pride as his tone deaf daughter belted out a little John Denver.

That was roughly 30+ years ago and nothing much has changed.  My mom is still in anxiety mode, although I have figured out that is a permanent condition for her.  My sister still smiles a lot but doesn't say a word, even when she speaks.  My dad's whistling killed him in 1997 when his insides were devoured by the cancer caused by masking everything.  And as for me?  Well I am still singing (and still tone deaf - thank God or I'd try my hand at rock stardom) and still trying to make everyone happy.

Sometimes I wonder how many trains have come and gone since then?  Growing up so close to the tracks, trains were interwoven into the soundtrack of my life.  There have been many times I have waited impatiently for the train to pass so I could cross the tracks, waited for the train to go by so I could have a conversation, waited for the train so I could impress someone with the flattened penny trick, waited for the train so I could fall asleep to its lullaby.

When my dad was sick we timed the trains and counted them every night all night until the sun came up and then we would both be disappointed he had lived another day.  There were nights he would disrobe and sit on the edge of the bed while I laced up his tennis shoes and packed his suitcase so he would be ready when the train came.  We would sit there for hours, him stark naked but his running shoes, with his suitcase by his feet and me still holding the hand of my dwindling giant dad praying tonight would be the night we could run and catch that train.

The day we buried his coffin, we pulled into the cemetery and I was overwhelmed by the number of cars circling and then I saw the people - hundreds of them seeming to materialize from every direction, all headed directly toward me.  It was the most beautiful thing and the scariest thing I've ever seen all at the same time.  I thought I was going to faint.

This isn't happening.  And then I heard it.  The train!  I didn't realize I was waiting for it that time, but I must have been because as soon as I heard it I knew it was him.   My dad.  He had finally caught that damn train!  This time he took a piece of my soul into the future and left my body behind.  There are days I swear I hear him calling to me, "Come on Sis, run".

It seems I run all of the time.  I ran all the way to Atlanta and back again once.  I run from hurt.  I run from fear.  I run from loneliness.  I run from anger.  I even run from happiness.  I run from truth.  I run from myself.

I want to stop running.  I have to stop running.  This time I want to sit stark naked and wait for the train.

true story.

Edie B. Kuhl


  1. As you know, I love this post. Powerful stuff.

  2. Stacey - Thank you. This will always be my favorite post.

  3. I never knew this post. And I have sat in silence for the last several minutes, trying to think of a response, but I don't have one. It makes me ache ... but in a beautiful way.

    "Although I am hand in hand with my giant father, I can see the whole scene from behind as if my dad has pulled my body into the future and left my soul in the past." This is my favorite line, though I have yet to figure out why. Beautiful, my dear.

  4. ThePeachy1 - Thank you.

    inkpuddle - I remember grasping for words when I originally wrote this and that line was just 'given' to me. Maybe by my dad. :) Thanks for the beautiful comment!

  5. Vittoria - Don't be weepy. It's all good. Humor to come soon. Pinky promise.

  6. I'd never read this back on ye olde blog... this is a wonderful story. You've almost got me in tears!

  7. Ms. Salti - Aw. Thanks. And especially thanks for making the move with me!


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