© 2017 Bill Murphy
My grandfather lied to me. It was the sweetest thing he ever could have done.
The time was in the mid 1940s. My mother’s older sister lived in Bogalusa, Louisiana. We visited her often. That trip, my grandparents were with us.
Bogalusa was and is a paper mill and railroad town. My uncle worked for the railroad there. And, my grandfather was retired from the Canton & Carthage RR. He’d been an engineer. So, I’d learned to love trains and railroading. Grandpa Fairchild walked for exercise. His favorite walking path was railroad tracks. He often took me with him. (That leads to several other stories!) The photo of us was taken perhaps a year of this Bogalusa trip.
That day in Bogalusa, as we neared the rail yards, I told him that I wanted to push a boxcar! Instead of scoffing at this insane childish idea, he lead me over to a lone boxcar sitting on a siding.
He instructed me as how to place my hands on that rusty, grimy, knuckle coupler on the boxcar’s end, place my feet firmly against the wooden cross-tie, lean forward ,and push with all my might. I pushed.
Of course, nothing happened.
Then he stepped off to the side, like a football coach on the sidelines. “PUSH,” he encouraged. “You can do it, PUSH.” I pushed.
A big grin spread across his face, as he patted me on the back. He told me that the boxcar actually moved – not far – only slightly – but that it moved!
Years later I came to realize the foolishness of my great boxcar push. There’s not a man alive who can singlehandedly push a boxcar. But was I upset by my grandfather’s ‘lie?’ Not on your life!
Grandpa Fairchild’s little white lie taught me that when I set my mind to something, it is possible. And discovering the truth about the boxcar didn’t burst that bubble! No sir! His ‘lie’ continues to give me impossible strength. Today, I want to be a writer. And in spirit, Grandpa Fairchild is still standing beside me, telling me to PUSH, telling me to try. This time he’s not fibbing – because you’re reading this – aren’t you!