My friend’s son lives at the far end of a 1,497-mile trail of iron rails. For him, the distance might as well be a million. Divorce can do that to a man.
“We’re hopping the Amtrak to California,” my friend said.
Church services are over, and we’re standing outside giving hugs. He looks down. I can see his head shake thinking about his son’s visit time coming to a close.
“Yeah, we’ve driven it lots of time, but the train kind of slows things down,” he said. “All about making the memories these days.”
They are hopping the train in Houston. The end of the line, ironically, is at the Pacific Ocean — four blocks from his son’s home.
“He can literally walk from his house to the train station.”
While I’ve only known my friend for a few years, I feel as if somehow, we’ve known each other for decades. Maybe that happens as you get older, the ability to see through the murky veneer of people and more quickly recognize what makes them tick from inside.
“We’ll get to sit in the double-decker car, play games and just talk,” he said.
I think my friend is more excited about being locked on an island on iron rails with his son than anything else.
My friend is a good man. He works long and hard. He loves his kids, and he hurts for having to live apart from them. I’ve seen smiles as large as the Pacific Ocean cross his face; I’ve seen tears roll off his strong and deeply tanned checks only to be wiped away by his pride. He’ll freely admit he is not perfect. But he’ll also freely admit God is always working on him, and he’s listening best he can.
If you know the makeup of a good man, odds are, you pretty much already know my friend.
What is so moving to me is how my friend’s priorities, even with half a continent separating him from his kids, are so solidly grounded in them. Never are they far from his thoughts or far from his actions. He is all in.
We never really know what life will deal us. But what we do know is, most times, life must be embraced and measured between sunrises and sunsets. Bank accounts run empty, fancy cars eventually wear out and big houses get sold. But what really matters in life is the blood we share with others.
Families, genetic or by choice, are really the only things that matter. From them, we reward our souls like ice water on a hot Texas afternoon. Droplets make deposits in memories, our hearts and help keep our internal compass from being pulled from our true north.
My friend is on this journey — one where his compass is now aligned to invest in his kids and making the best of a difficult situation. But I also know my friend is just the man to do it, and he is not alone.