It was a rare moment for me. Walking in a crowded mall. I dislike shopping. OK. Really rather abhor it but accept it as a necessary evil. I must admit, it was enjoyable to be out and about (for the full effect of Amy-speech, read those three words with a Canadian accent) among folks during the advent season. That enjoyment was about to increase substantially.
Ding. Ding. To my left, a train sans tracks was slowly passing me. A white-haired man sat in the front car. The engineer. Behind him were several train cars filled with small kids and parentals. On their way for a ride through the mall.
To my delight I saw that the last car was an actual caboose. And a red one at that. I flashed on the caboose game of my youth. As the caboose slowly passed, I called out to the grandmother sitting in it with her small grandchild. “Ah, you never see cabooses any more.”
The child said something but was by now too far away for me to hear in a noisy mall. I found myself jogging up to the back of the train and asking him to repeat himself. The look of incomprehension on my face in response to his comment prompted the grandmother to interject. “It’s the island where Thomas the Train is from.” Ah! I have no children. I know about the existence of Thomas but not much more about him. Certainly not the name of the island he is from. (The island of Sodor, for those of you as ignorant as I was…am…)
The child though was clearly overjoyed about riding in the caboose. (His idea, according to his grandmother.) I waved him on and he frantically waved back. That warm feeling that all is right in the world ensued. The absolute joy of a child delighting in life. And I was blessed to be in his orbit for a brief moment, running down the train and catching his contagious joie de vivre.