All of these things most people consider "hobbies" but he does these things to live.
His hobby is building 1/8 scale trains. It's his passion. It's what makes him happy. It's what he lives for. Whether these trains are diesel, steam or battery powered, he's all about it. I've heard of people with model train sets in their basement. I've heard of people who read every piece of material on trains they can get their hands on. But I've never actually seen someone build and power a real minature train the way my husband's grandfather does.
These trains actually ride on a 1/8 scale track that he has out in his barn yard. He also takes and donates some of his trains to the Hesston Steam Museum where you'll find actual trails of these minature tracks for you to ride on and enjoy. My husband's grandparents have been taking their trains and volunteering their time at the museum for over 30 years. I believe this was their 32nd year. And counting.
But this, this I understand. I really do.
I see more than just the hobby. I see more than the trains. I see more than the dedicated money paired with time and hard work.
I see passion, dedication, persaverance, patience, lifetime friendships and a smile. A smile when three generations, his kids, his grand children and his great grand chilren all enjoying something he built with his bare hands.
He needs these trains. Just the same as he needs food, clothing and shelter.
His hands have become arthritic and troubling to use. His back hurts. His legs hurt. He can barely walk after a long day. But he keeps going. He does't let anything stop him.
He knows that life is too short to be lazy or lack passion for something that you love. This man would be in a full body cast and he'd still find a way to work on his trains. He doesn't want to stop learning and doing and he doesn't want anyone else to stop learning and doing, either.
He figured all of this out on an 8th grade education. He figured out how to live off the land and if he couldn't find or afford what he wanted. He made it. And he made it well. He never expected help from anybody and if he made a wrong, he sure as heck figured out how to make it right. He treats people the way they should be treated and he expects the same in return.
He's obviously doing something right in his marriage, too, as he's been with my husband's beautiful grandmother for 56 years and many more in counting.
Every Labor Day weekend, when we go up to visit him and take up the opportunity to ride the trains, I am reminded of all the things we can learn from our grandparents. I am reminded that our problems are so trivial and so first world. I am reminded of the passion and dedication it takes to get what we want in life. I'm reminded that in order to find true happiness, we must first learn the value of hard work. Work hard and play harder. That's what my husband's grandpa is all about.
Everyone wants to know what the secret to success is. The secret to happiness. It's not something you can find in a book. Or hear from a speaker.
It's up to you. Do you want to be happy or sit back and feel sorry for yourself? I choose to be happy.
Just like my husband's grandfather.