In Memory of Little Brother

Roughly one year ago I lost a very good friend, and I think of him from time to time, and today, I thought I might devote the page today to his memory.  Tomorrow he will be gone one full year, it doesn’t seem like it, but still it is very real.


There is only one thing in this big old world that never takes a holiday.

And that is death.

johnOne of the things about dealing with loss, is the fact, that you always feel there was something left un-said, one final goodbye … I wish I had the chance to …… Unfortunately, a lot of the time, it doesn’t turn out that way. In this particular case it was just that way.

My good, close personal friend died, a massive heart attack without warning. I feel cheated, I feel robbed, and I feel sad. Please don’t confuse this with Brother John, in PA, my computer friend who shares the page with me often.

This John, is John Wright, a locomotive engineer on the same railroad that I retired from.  I used to call him “Little Brother.” Just months away from retirement, we often joked and talked about it, a milepost he sadly will never see.. A time we sadly will not share together.  This is the nature of things this day.

Today I don’t get to write the things I like to write about, the weird and wacky things that make me smile, the offbeat and the colorful, today I have to write about the passing of my friend, John. Today is not a day that makes me smile, nor should it, because this is never a happy experience for anyone.

John was standing on the rear platform of a BNSF Locomotive the other day in Winslow, Arizona fixing to make a trip back across the mountains at Flagstaff to Needles, California, when he had a massive heart attack and he died. Just another trip across the mountains. Something that he had done thousands of times in his long career, but this day, it was not to be so. One of the things that I hate about it more than anything is that “he died away from home” such is the life of a railroad man.

I didn’t care for that at all.

So I have kind of been dealing with that, and that is why I am sort of backed up on the comments section of all this. It will be a day or two before I am back into the routine, I am sure you will understand.

Being at a point in life where I am attending far too many funerals and no longer going to weddings, it doesn’t seem to get any easier. Last year I was dealing with this very same issue, and I suppose next year, it will be the same. Knowing that you have the strength, faith in God and the convictions to face it head on, doesn’t make it any better, it just makes you capable of understanding it in the end. I am really going to miss this guy, and there is already a void in my life, because of his sudden untimely passing.

There is an old story about a Preacher and a Railroader who both died on the same day. And when they arrived at the Heaven’s Gate, they were escorted in and an Angel checked their names in the book of life and they were assigned their respective rooms in heaven.

The next morning, they both happened to meet in the cafeteria and the preacher looked at the railroader and he said, “What is your room like?” And the old railroader said, “I got a pretty nice room, I have to admit. I got this big screen television; central heat and air, even got one of them Jacuzzi s deals in the bathroom. Pretty nice set up.”

The preacher was livid, he said, “Man, something is wrong here, really wrong. I got this little dinky bed, just barely holds one person, a sink, 10” black n white television. Someone needs to do something about this!”

So they both went back up to the front desk and approached the Angel in charge. The preacher said to the Angel, “Hey? Both of us checked in yesterday at the same time, I am a preacher and he is a railroader. I got this dinky little room, barely a television, air conditioner in the wall. He has a 62” big screen High-Def-Television, central heat and air, Jacuzzi in the bathroom the whole nine yards! What gives?”

The Angel smiled and said …… “We get preachers every day in heaven, no big deal. But he is the FIRST RAILROADER we ever got.”

It is my sincere, profound hope, that my friend John is in Heaven today and that he has a really swell room.

So Little Brother, reach down, grab you a handful of throttle, slap her in run eight and let ‘er rip, all the blocks are green from here on out …

I miss him desperately already …. John Thomas Wright II …. My JT.



3 thoughts on “In Memory of Little Brother

  1. I feel for you, my friend, and it does take a couple of years…or so I’m told by my-wife-the-shrink. I know that things get better slowly, that death is a part of life — one for which our wimpy society leaves us ill-prepared — and that we need to move on. Knowing that, however, doesn’t seem to have made it a damned bit easier so far.

    I’m sorry that you’re having to go through this. Close friends are like family; in some ways even closer than family. I don’t know what it’s like to be on the railroad, but here’s a poem that I’ve always been able to relate to. Maybe the imagery will mean something to you, as well.

    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air.
    Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
    I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
    And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

    Hang in there,
    Thanks so much my friend, that is a strong comment and it helps.


  2. I believe when you write about your loss as you have it is a major step on the road to healing. I lost my firefighter son Christopher at the World Trade Center on 9/11. I started writing to him on 10/8/01. My writings to Chris turned into a book that I had published through By writing to or about my son I feel more connected to him and I also feel better. Now that you have begun, keep writing. I guarantee you will feel better.
    Thanks, I have for a fact, several items that I have written to or about John, mostly I keep them to myself, part of my healing I guess you might say. I do try to think about him, and I miss him, and that is why I put the article up on the anniversary of his passing.


  3. Very well written. I only hope he had that true enjoyment for his profession. It was unfortunate that he passed away being far from home, at least not lying in a hospital bed. I, too have felt cheated not getting those final words said.
    Most railroaders are gone for the most part, they miss a great deal of “personal life” and I know of many, who died away from home. There is a running gag in the industry that goes something like this. “Do you know what BNSF stands for?” Most people answer Burlington Northern Santa Fe, but a rail will answer ……… “Better Not Start A Family.”


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