Take Time

Thursday, July 09, 2015

My husband and I recently took two weeks off from work and our little family of three went on vacation. It was heavenly. It was the epitome of vacation and we tried to do as little “work” as possible. Which for me meant not only stepping away from my real job, but this little blog as well. We needed to take time to focus on our family.

After vacation, I planned to write something about our trip for my next post. Unfortunately upon our return, I learned that my grandfather had passed. Coming back to reality became difficult on an entirely different level. He had been in hospice care for a while, so I knew that the time would come to have to say goodbye, but I still wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be. So instead of writing about vacation, I’d like to write about my Grandpa - Lloyd J. Hill, Jr.

My family and my faith mean everything to me. They are the foundations of a legacy that I have been more than fortunate enough to inherit. On June 27th, one of the people responsible for this legacy passed away. My Grandpa Hill was an incredibly kind and selfless man who was intentional with his love for others and Christ. He was generous and genuine in his relationships, mailing newspaper clippings and hand-written notes (that were sometimes hard to decipher in his left-handed script) that he thought you would find of interest. His memory was unchallengable and he would always ask about people's families, recalling everyone, down to a great-uncle, by name. And he was also an extraordinary storyteller. 

In his stories, there were no big fish or far away castles with knights in shining armor rescuing princesses from fire-breathing dragons. No, his stories had something even better - trains. Glorious trains that took you back to days when life moved at a different speed. When the wheels of time turned a little slower, and people appreciated the journey between destinations instead of focusing on how quickly they could get where they were going.

My Grandpa's stories came to life through the incredible details he remembered from when he was just a small boy. He could recount events from 80 years ago as if they happened yesterday. When listening, it was as if you were right there with him as he relived each moment in exacting detail, taking you on a journey that should and will always be remembered.

A few years ago, our family asked my Grandpa to write down some of our favorite train tales that he's shared throughout the years. I was fortunate enough to help him with this project and am thankful these stories will be shared by our family for generations to come. 

If there is one thing that I have learned above all from listening to my Grandpa’s stories, it is that no detail is too small or inconsequential. Every moment plays a part in our lives and you never know when a minor detail can influence the course of your life. So instead of rushing through each day, his stories remind me to pause and focus on the moments that make up the journey.

One of my favorite stories is the tale of how my Grandpa was drafted into the U.S. Army where he met and fell in love with a beautiful receptionist for the Military Packaging School, my Grandma. Yes, I am a romantic. Below is an excerpt from A Railway Mechanical Engineer Love Story:
"I joined Union Electric in September of 1951 as a Student Engineer and worked there for six weeks until being drafted into the U.S. Army. That changed everything. I spent the next two years of my life in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Chemical Corps, following Basic Training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.  
I spent a short period of time at the Army Chemical Center, and was ordered to attend a two week course on 'Military Packaging,' which was being held at Rossford, Ohio, Army Ordnance Depot, just outside of Toledo, Ohio. You know the rest of the story because that was where I met Lois Ann Heckman, who at that point in time was the Receptionist for the Military Packaging School. No question - it was love at first sight, for both of us!!! [Editor's note: Grandpa specifically added in three exclamation points here] 
There was an interval of time following the Army Material Packaging School episode that I was stationed at the Army Chemical Center, and would hitchhike the 600 or so miles to Toledo for a weekend, very shortened, at Shady View Farm, and then return to the Army Chemical Center, Maryland, in time for the mandatory 6:00 a.m. Monday “FALLOUT,” which every soldier on the post was forced to attend. 
I was separated from the active U.S. Army on October 16, 1953 at Ft. George Meade, Maryland, and took the train into Baltimore, where I was able to purchase a one-way ticket from Baltimore to Fostoria, Ohio on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, which conveniently had a passenger train departing for Chicago a short time following my arrival at the Mt. Royal Railroad Passenger Station. The train arrived quite early in the morning at Fostoria. 
I disembarked from the passenger chair car with my filled Army duffel bag and stood alone on the station platform, determining what to do. Two men in a car nearby asked if I needed a ride, and I responded in the affirmative. We set off north from Fostoria on Route 199 and some six miles north of Fostoria encountered Lois Ann driving southbound in our newly purchased 1953 Chevrolet four-door, two-tone green sedan. Somehow we both recognized the other. The man driving the car I was in quickly turned into an adjacent farm driveway leading to a barn, and Lois Ann turned the 1953 Chevy around and we met right there. It was not very far from there to Shady View Farm, and thus ended my Army career."
Sometimes you set off in life to chase trains, only to realize that riding them to visit the one you love turns out to be the greatest adventure of all. My grandparents were happily married for the next 61 years. Their love for one another inspires our family, including five children, nine grand-children and nine great-grandchildren. Living by example, my Grandpa taught his family how to lead a meaningful life.  

As fate would have it, when heading home from my Grandpa’s funeral, we were stopped by not one but two trains. It felt as if Grandpa was sending us a sign to slow down and appreciate this fantastic life surrounding us. Don’t be in such a rush, he said. Take a moment to be thankful for all God has given you. 

Take time to enjoy the journey.
Take time to spend with your family.
Take time to ask your parents/grandparents about their lives.
Take time to mourn those no longer with us.
Take time to tell people you love them.
Take time to count the train cars.

Thank you for this inspiring legacy, Grandpa. We will always take time to remember you and your love for us.

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