What's heaven like? The closest I've come to it was in the eyes of a 3 year old with a passion for choo choo trains. Little trains, like miniature Thomas; big ones, like the old retiree (shown here) resting trackside at the Martinez (CA) Amtrak Station.
At my grandson's command, I hoisted him onto my lap and displayed his favorite snapshot on my wide-screen monitor.
"Can that choo-choo go on the tracks?" I asked.
"No!" He delivered his line with the enthusiasm of a child actor in a Cheerios commercial.
"And why not?"
"Too old, too tired." Together we exhaled a compassionate sigh for this once-proud locomotive that now can only watch and reminisce, as younger models race by.
Recently, we lucky grandparents had our little guy to ourselves for two whole days. What better way to spend this time than by treating him to his first ride on a real train and a visit to the Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento? On the day before our adventure, he and I went to the station to buy our tickets.
"Why do we need a ticket?" I asked.
No script for this dialogue, but several prompts later he got it. "No ticket, no choo-choo ride."
In our short time at the station, an eastbound Capitol Corridor train roared in, whistles blasting, guard gates clanging as they fell. When it stopped, the engineer leaned out of the cab and waved. At first, my grandson couldn't believe the gesture was directed at him. How could such an important man--one with power to tame this mammoth beast--be waving at me? Slowly, his little arm rose and waved back.
The next morning, a silver giant's doors slid open to receive a wide-eyed little boy and two excited grandparents. For the next hour, our little traveler pressed his nose to the window, in awe of every sight that we considered ordinary--the Martinez-Benicia Bridge and the brown Carquinez Straits current lapping at its pylons, empty Solano County fields, and a ho-hum stretch of the Sacramento Valley.
I envied my grandson's vision of the wonders to which I had become blind. I felt moved by the depth of his contemplation of the miracles of nature and human invention. I resolved then and there to view the world that day--and after--through his eyes.