Rail cars and life lessons

D. Nadeau/ECA Review/
Written by ECA Review

Railcars within easy touching distance at the Wainwright train station. D. Nadeau/ECA Review/

Wainwright: a lovely prairie community of about 6,500, supported by a nearby military base, a CP rail yard, and area agriculture.

My favourite Wainwright place is behind the town’s former train station, now a tourist facility. Without trespassing, I have arm’s reach access to CP Rail tracks, usually packed with freight cars. I can experience the massive size of rail cars; normally only seen rumbling across the prairie, not up close and personal.

Change scenes and join my wife and me in downtown Stettler sidewalk. Just us, side by side, until we heard a guy’s voice: “Oh. That’s so cute!”

It was a 20-something guy with his 20-something buddy and the comment was about us, as seniors, obviously content and complete with each other.

They engaged us in conversation and we soon found ourselves presenting a face of marriage and of male–female relationships that was as alien to them as their secular and me-first world was to us.

As the conversation deepened, I realized these two young men were seeing the real world of a successful and happy marriage up close and personal, perhaps for the first time, not unlike my experiencing the size of a CP Rail car within arm’s reach.

A few days earlier, we had marked 50 years of marriage, a fact Joel and Rodd found hard to believe. That encouraged the teacher in me to launch into my oft-used quiz for those about to marry or, those with embryonic or tenuous relationships.

“What one word,” I asked, “would describe a healthy and happy marriage?”

They suggested love, companionship, trust, communication, and others.

“Nice words,” I said, “but another word is absolutely foundational to any relationship.”

Their not clicking on the word respect opened the door for us to describe the role respect plays in our marriage—respect of person, use of money, the role of teasing, the hurt of strong words, the dangers of silence, the importance of just being polite and nice to each other.

I sensed from Joel and Rodd’s questions and polite challenges that our relational values were alien. These young men absorbed how we respect each other, how we watch our tone of voice, and how we submit our lives and choices to a higher authority.

I doubt we’ll meet them again, but are certain we did our part to positively influence their attitude to the wonderful state of marriage.

Our listen-and-learn session ended as Joel demanded (not a request!) a group hug. This felt awkward, but we participated if only to extend the magic of the moment for as long as possible.

True story although the names have been changed.

David Nadeau
ECA Review

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