Dream Catcher

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Tuesday, April 4, 2006

And tears began to fill my eyes . . .

I just returned from Tucson again . . . And this time I took the train. Many of you know my son lives there and many of you know I travel for stories. And this time was no different. My son and I drove to Tucson and I took the back . . . The only way to travel other than bus . . . That is for a writer.

I had to be in the train station by 2:20am . . . I was there by 12:30am. As I sat there, a homeless man went on a verbal assault of an Amtrak Attendant . . . I watched two women enter the station with two children. It seems they had every belonging they had. The attendant behind the counter told them they had too many bags. They dug through the suitcases and bags eliminating the non-essentials and suitcases.

The next night on a 9 hour layover I would discover that only one of the women were traveling on the train and she was leaving her Crack Addict of a husband, her and her daughter. She was traveling with just eighty dollars to Cleveland, Ohio to a Women's Shelter. She was a 52 year old nurse, who had been out of work for 6 months and couldn't find a job.

In San Antonio I stayed up the night talking to a bunch of kids outside the train. A homeless man came up begging for change. I gave him a five. I watched him turn and head up the street on a mission, either going to a crack house or a liquor store. While talking to the kids I learned that each one of them had been in Juvey . . . One looked like Jason, a friend of my oldest son . . . Jason had a history of trouble with the law . . . But at the time I knew inside he was a good kid . . . But we lost him, Waukesha and Dan Hanosh . . . Today he is serving 15 years at the age of 23.

I met Fernando in the Club Car, he was double fisting a few beers . . . It was 7:00am. Fernando was Mexican/American. He was looking to buy a ranch outside a little border town an hour from Tucson. He had worked 25 years as a garbage collector in Ft. Worth.

I mentioned to Fernando, "I see you've talked to Mr. Happy."
He laughed and said, "Be thankful, you can be whatever you choose and you choose to be happy."

. . . And then I new Fernando was someone I needed to spend time talking to. He had a wisdom. Fernando drank allot, but he was a good man. His children would come up to him often and he lovingly gave them instruction. He was sincere . . . Anyone can see through those that put up a front, but Fernando had raised his kids by working long and hard. One of his kids was back at home, he was 26 and lost . . . As all parents Fernando wanted him to find his way . . . He wanted him to come to the ranch, but he didn't want to. I told him sometimes you've just got to back off, let them go. I told him that when my son was struggling, I told myself at least he hadn't been in jail . . . That's when Fernando looked down at the floor and said, "But my son has."
"Fernando, there's little you can control in this life . . . All you can give them is love and advice . . . And most times they won't take it."
"Maybe if I wasn't working so hard?" "No," I said. " . . . You did what you had to at the time." "But now, I am able to spend more time with those two. Maybe if I would have . . . " "Fernando, did you give him all the love you had?" "Yes." "That's all you could have done."

Friday night I met J.C. and his wife. They were traveling from Austin to St. Louis. Allison was a fiery red head of a Texan. J.C. was a Mexican/American. Allison talked of her marriage as crossing racial lines. I never saw that, heck I never see race. I'm fortunate that way.

Allison had gone to Mardi Gras in . She told of the food tents and the long lines. Still I asked . . . It's heart breaking. The mold is everywhere and no one is doing anything. Where are the American People, I asked? Busy. Too busy to care.

We were talking loudly of politics and we hit it off. It's strange how strangers come together in friendship. Anyway the preacher butted in, Allison wasn't going to have it. She got right in his face and told him to leave. In her behalf, he was relentless in his preaching of the Lord, we really couldn't talk and he didn't make much sense. But I knew he was only just looking for companionship. Later I sat and talked with him. He was a singer trying to hold on to his dream . . . And most likely an as well.

The first day on the train an Old Man stopped at my coach seat. He had white hair, bib overalls and an earring in his left ear. How odd, I thought. But he was a very friendly man. He was talking about cities in Oregon, where his daughter lived. I didn't really want to talk to him but I did anyway. Later on the trip, I heard he had lost his wallet . . . or it was stolen . . . or he never had one . . . Passing through a coach car, I saw an attendant from Amtrak, passing Old Joe a paper bag of food.

Later in the day, the lady from Tucson had come back from the club car . . . I was writing on my laptop at the time, when she slid a teenager traveling alone a cup of noodles . . . She said I haven't seen you eat all day . . . And he thanked her profusely. I had missed that . . . .

As we entered the windy city, the urban sprawl blew, dirt, dust and dark clouds. And the were pushing shopping carts scurrying along the streets. And I thought, ?

. . .

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