_THAT’S THE HIGHWAY_

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* 14 … LATE NIGHT AND A WHISTLE (05/09/2011)

Late one evening, the eldest sibling was lying in bed awake. Just 4 days prior, he and his younger brother had verbalized the possibility of the road trip along Route 66. In those four short and long days, the brothers had welcomed many people to the business, while talking about their trip. The younger brother was more relaxed, partially because he was waiting to hear from WSM. The eldest, however, was restless with many thoughts racing through his mind, including what he needed to do to prepare for the trip, what he needed to do to secure the house and assist his sister in keeping the business open while he was away, all the places he’d finally see, and how much he wished his parents had had this opportunity.

This particular evening, the eldest just could not shut off his mind. He finally decided to get up and write down some of his thoughts. In the split second that he sat up in bed, his mind went quiet and he distinctly heard the faint whistle of a passing train. Time briefly stood still. Suddenly, he was a young kid again, rushing down to the tracks to catch a glimpse of the train and wonder where it was heading and where it had been.

He had always been fascinated by trains … and travelers in general … wondering about what led up to their travels and where life was about to take them. He was shaken back to the present when the whistle blew again, this time a bit louder as the train neared the small town’s intersections. He glanced at his clock. 1:20 am.

For a second, he thought about putting on some clothes and dashing to the tracks to watch the train roll by. But, while the tracks weren’t too far from the house, he figured the train would be half through the area by the time he got dressed and got down there. Besides, he didn’t really need to see the train this time. He had, of course, seen many trains travel on the railroad tracks that went hand-in-hand with Route 66 pavement between Chicago and LA … each and every train with its own mystery that added to the legend of the famed roadway.

Yet, this time he saw the train as a symbol of how he might change over the course of his upcoming Route 66 road trip with his brother. Oh, he already had been anticipating a change in himself over the course of the trip, mainly because of the people he’d finally meet and the places he’d finally see. But, that train whistle called out to him, not in the “lonely whistle” way that so many have talked and written about, but in a “just wait until you see what I see” way. And, the oldest brother knew that whatever he did see would change him forever.

He slowly got out of bed and glanced out his bedroom window. As he looked up into the night sky filled with stars, the train whistle blew again. Memories of his childhood, including his siblings and parents, flooded his mind, replacing the roaring thoughts related to the upcoming Route 66 adventure. He couldn’t believe that he had actually thought about selling the family business, and his mind turned to that potential buyer that never showed up, saying they didn’t want the place after all. At the time, he had been a bit frustrated at that news, but now, he knew that selling the businesses was not the right thing to do. BOTH his parents would want the business to remain in the family.

The train whistle blew one more time, signaling a successful pass through town. The eldest sibling sighed, closed the curtain, turned away from the window, and climbed back into bed. He no longer needed to write anything because his mind was once again calm…for now.

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