June 26, 2013

Mark Millican: The train whisperer

It’s gotten to be an eerie phenomenon, but nowhere near unsettling.

More often than not when we have our second grandson with us and are driving near a railroad track, Pop (yours truly) can seemingly make a rumbling train appear — to Elijah’s intense enjoyment. It doesn’t matter if I have to slowly ramble up the long, straight Waring Road in northern Whitfield County that parallels a pair of tracks. Sooner or later, most of the time, that train is going to come barreling through.

If he believes that’s some kind of “Pop magic,” so be it. He’ll grow up too soon and learn better soon enough.

(Around 50 to 55 trains pass through Dalton during a 24-hour period, according to regional Internet train chatter. But that’s our little secret, OK?)

My apparent paranormal rail acumen has kinda gotten out of hand, however. Because oftentimes — even without Elijah in the back seat — when Teresa and I approach a railroad crossing the “ding-ding-ding” warning bells ring out and the crossbar arms lower into place. My wife stares at me incredulously, but what am I to do? Lift my arms with palms up and say, “You got me!?!”

I’m hoping she starts believing it’s Pop magic, too. After all, how can it hurt to be known as The Train Whisperer?

When Elijah, 2-1/2, and his little brother Samuel, five months, are both in their car seats Pop is the pilot up front. Gran (Teresa) is in the back seat with them, reading books or dispensing toys. Meanwhile, I’m on high alert. My hands are gripping the steering wheel at 10 and 2 instead of the usual practice of having my left wrist slung over the wheel like when I’m cruising in my pickup truck. Each approaching car speeding toward us is a potential enemy, and I stare each one down and through mental telepathy ask, “What is your intention? Are you staying on your side of the road? I demand you remain on your side of the yellow line!”

It’s Pop’s mission, I’m telling you — I’m carrying precious cargo.

Our other two grandsons, Reece, 4, and Abel, 2-1/2, live near a small airport in Alabama. Needless to say, we like to venture outside during visits and watch the Cessnas take off, lazily tracing their airborne circles around the neighborhood and tipping their wings when they see us waving.

The boys also like to go hiking, and on our last trek Pop overestimated their endurance. The trails were divided into different lengths of loops, and it was Pop who determined the boys could make just over two miles. We should have known when the trail veered downhill that the last section back to the parking lot would be up a mountain, leaving my son-in-law and me toting the spent little lads like sprawled-out backpacks.

But he ain’t heavy, he’s my grandson.

Teresa and I love doing things together, but we both agree when it comes to our grandsons we’re “all in” for them, knowing we’re both privileged to have them for awhile — and are also accountable for their safety. (That’s because they get a head-to-toe inspection from their moms for new scrapes and bruises upon their return.)

We also try to walk a lot and eat well. After all, we have another grandchild due in late July or August. Then it’ll be five grandkids under 5 — a Condition Red alert!

Mark Millican is a former Daily Citizen staff writer. You can follow him on Twitter,  @ExtraByMark.

Text Only
  • Citizen of the Week: Kacee Smith of the Georgia Rampage

    When the Georgia Rampage became Dalton’s first professional indoor football team last year, it would have been easy for the owner and players to focus only on drawing attention to themselves as they tried to build up the team’s following.

    April 18, 2014

  • Successes continue at Dalton State College

    These are exciting times for our local college, Dalton State, both on campus and off.

    April 16, 2014

  • Mark Millican: The birds hushed their singing

    For the uninitiated, that line is from what many consider the greatest rock song of all time, “Stairway to Heaven,” by Led Zeppelin.

    April 15, 2014

  • Misty Watson: When blood sugar drops, anger rises

    It wouldn’t have taken 107 married couples and 21 days to figure out that being hungry makes people angry.

    April 15, 2014

  • Working for the man

    You may be one of the many Americans who will rush to file their income taxes today. But you may not yet have earned enough money to pay all of the taxes that will be imposed on you this year.

    April 15, 2014

  • Letter: The glib tongue, the fake smile

    A recent Daily Citizen column by Walter Williams will both awaken and frighten any thinking person who claims even a smidgen of knowledge about — or belief in —  either the Bible, world history or current events.

    April 15, 2014

  • College soccer team would bring local talent together

    Dreams of combining the best soccer players from all local high schools into one team finally could come true.

    April 13, 2014

  • Letter: Primaries feature many choices

    Many people are confused this year about the May 20 Election Day. Unfortunately, very few voters in Whitfield County actually go to the polls for a primary election. But this means any increase in participation can have a significant impact.

    April 12, 2014

  • Letter: Hooper for Murray chief magistrate

    Thanks to all the wonderful people and friends who backed me for District 1 Murray County Board of Education. You sure showed a lot of support. Sorry I had to step down due to my and my wife’s health. I am a lot better now.

    April 12, 2014

  • Judicial dispute could have been avoided

    Judicial elections in Whitfield and Murray counties tend to be low key. In fact, we can’t recall the last time an incumbent judge on the Conasauga Superior Court, which cover the two counties, has even faced a challenger.

    April 12, 2014