Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Caboose

There is a train that runs from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon.

Larry & I were visiting my aunt and uncle about five years ago at their place in Sedona. Three of their kids (and their families) were also in town so we extended a business trip and went up to Sedona for a visit to see everyone.

Larry doesn't have much family. He has no siblings and about three cousins, all of whom he's seen less than ten times in his life. I have 12 cousins and am closest to the four daughters of this particular aunt and uncle.

With all of these guests, my aunt and uncle suggested a trip to the Grand Canyon. They really wanted to try this train ride, but none of their girls would do it. Having driven to the Grand Canyon once before, we thought this could be a fun way to experience a second time.

On this train, there are five different classes of service. The cheapest is a "cattle class" in which you sit much like a grey hound bus. The nicest class is in the luxury parlor car. That car, the last car on the train, is reserved for only 25 people and has all the food and drinks you can consume. Plus, there is an open-air rear platform allowing you to look out over the pristine beauty of untouched land.

At first I was hesitant on the added expense, but my aunt & uncle pointed out that sometimes you only experience things once in your life and you should just do it the best you can.

So while my cousins and their families drove to the Grand Canyon, we rode in style. We had our own server for 25 people, wine & cheese platters, and comfortable, cushioned, high-back chairs where the four of us could just talk for hours. We took turns with the other passengers in our car, looking out over the landscape from our private platform. And we enjoyed the 'staged' train robbery.

The day was one I will never forget; both the enjoyable time with my aunt & uncle and the lesson learned along the way.

We buried my uncle yesterday. On Monday, he died of a heart attack, in bed watching TV, while my aunt while making dinner. He was 61.

I don't see my relatives that much with them being in Chicago and me being in DC. Even the short visits to see my folks never seem to include stops to see them anymore.

Life is busy...sometimes too busy.

I will miss my uncle a lot. He made me laugh and he loved me for who I am, good things and bad.

But most of all, I will always remember that train ride and how sometimes paying a little extra, gives you ten times the benefit in return.

11 Comments:

Blogger Lola and Ava said...

Oh, sweetie, I am so sorry about your uncle. That age is just too, too young for such a thing to happen. Anything else I would say would just be too pithy . . . so, love you and Larry and Corey bunches!

11:56 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

My condolences. I love your aunt and uncle's attitude though. "Sometimes you only experience things once in your life and you should just do it the best you can." That's perfect. I have an aunt and uncle like that too. They live pretty modestly, but have traveled to many countries most travelers never get to. They've even take the QM2 around Cape Horn.

I hope your aunt handles this as best as possible. My best.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. What a great story to remember him by.

1:18 AM  
Blogger Bacchus said...

My thoughst go out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing such a warm memory of someone with such great insight.

3:13 AM  
Anonymous L.A. Daddy said...

Sorry for your loss. I lost an Aunt this week - not a super close one, but a lot of good memories there - and it can be tough.

Sounded like a very fun trip, too. We might have to try something like that sometime.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Whit said...

I'm sorry as well.

I'm glad you had the chance to create the memories you have. Sounds wonderful.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Oh, I am so very sorry. This story is incredibly sweet. I'm glad you have great memories of him.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Sorry to hear about your uncle.

I learned a long time ago that you should never wait to make memories, even if you have to pay a little extra for it.

3:35 AM  
Blogger Kelly O said...

What a beautiful tribute to your uncle.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Mitch McDad said...

Steve,
Very sorry about your uncle. 61 is too young.

And nice message at the end. You're right. We too often pass up good opportunities in life and it's nice to have a few good ones to look back on.

11:19 AM  
Blogger georgia said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Here's a link to the book I gave my mom a few months after my dad passed away. She still reads passages from it almost every day. http://www.amazon.com/Widow-Thoughtful-Practical-Ideas-Rebuilding/dp/0738209961/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-0747861-7863315?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183130263&sr=8-1

11:21 AM  

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