It didn't take me but a moment to realize that I should have been there years before. Every year on Easter Sunday my wife and I make the trip back to James Creek to spend the night with my parents and to go to Easter Sunday Service with them. We have been doing this for the last 7 years. I have never been to an Easter Sunday service at my own church, Maranatha Fellowship. Usually, we just get up early in the morning and drive down to attend services and then have dinner together and we drive home that evening. This year was different.
I think I have written about our dog Rusty before. Rusty has completely changed our lives. We don't have a child of our own yet (we are still 19 weeks away), but Rusty is definitely the closest thing that we can imagine a child to be like. He has taken our heart like we would never have believed. He is so spoiled. He is so needy. He is so loving. He's scared of thunderstorms. He needs his food delivered to wherever he is lying (which is normally in bed with us). He can't rest without touching one of us. We have totally fallen in love with our "son," Rusty.
This year we had to pack our things and drive to mom and dad's the night before Easter because we didn't want Rusty to have to stay home alone all day on Sunday while we drove down for the day. We packed up Saturday morning and with Rusty in stow we made our trek to James Creek. Rusty loved being able to run around the yard all day. Mom and dad's yard is considerably larger than ours and it is fenced in so he could have more fun. He was so worn out that he slept right between us in my old full size bed all night long. When we all woke up, Rusty had a nice puddle of drool on the blanket. Amanda and I... well, we didn't sleep quite as nicely.
Saturday evening we played games, as is commonplace, when we are there. After playing a round of Scatergories, dad realized that he had to return to work that night to work up a train sample that needed to be done that weekend. Dad won't work on Sundays so this was his only time to get it done. Dad went into the bedroom and changed into his work clothes and came to tell mom that he was sorry and wouldn't be gone more than a couple hours at most. He called the boss that was on duty, Carl was his name I think, and was headed out the door. I then thought to myself that in all my 29 years I had never seen what my dad actually does. I have listened to him tell countless tales about the guys at work and the things they do, but I had never actually been there myself. Dad has been talking a lot lately of retirement and this thrills me because I think dad has worked very hard over the years and needs to. I know my opportunities to actually see dad "in action" were limited so I asked if I could join him. I think he was shocked that I actually wanted to, which was sad to me because my dad has always been my hero and I want to know everything about him, but I guess I never had asked to go to work with him.
I threw on the only clothes that I had besides my Easter attire, which was Abercrombie sweat pants (bad idea), an old grey t-shirt of dad's, and my white Nike Shox (another bad idea) and off we went. I remember when we got in dad's truck, the radio was set to 107.9 and an old man whom I could instantly tell and dad later confirmed had been on the radio for many years was witnessing for our lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as he played the occasional, southern gospel song. Dad and I listened to him and had small talk on the short 10 minute drive to work. Dad parked in his usual spot and opened his locker to get out his work boots and off we went to check in. Checking in was nothing like I imagined. I check in on "FourSquare" everywhere I go and it pinpoints my whereabouts by geo tagging my location on my Iphone. Patriot Coals version of checking in was placing your hardhat against a machine that registered that Roop, James was "ready for action" at 11:11 pm April, 24th. Dad is 4th in seniority there.
We got in the company truck that they recently gave dad to drive back and forth to get his samples in. He walked to get them for nearly 25 years. Dad had to collect samples from a couple different locations and I wish I could explain how all of it worked, but I really can't. It's actually quite interesting, and It' something about every 10 train cars that are loaded have to have a small amount of coal from them so all of the coal in that shipment can be tested for ash, moisture, etc so they can sell it for more money. Dad collected these samples and took them back to his lab to actually do the "sampling." I noticed instantly that dad is very meticulous in his work. I saw where many steps could have been taken to shorten the amount of time it took to do the sample and I would be willing to bet that many men would have taken them, but not my dad. Dad worked with precision and he worked quickly. I wish I was half the man my dad is. Those sample bags were so heavy; I could barely pick them up and dad was just throwing them around with one hand like it was nothing. The heaviest thing I pick up daily is a toss up between a stapler and a group of folders. Dad finished his work diligently and went to check out, but before he did he decided to show me around. He took me into the preparation plant and showed me what was happening on each floor. I must admit that I was a little surprised at what all went on just to get the coal ready for shipment. I never realized that it is that complex. Each floor of this building had screens, chains, chemicals, belts, and I could go on and on. It was eye opening to see all of this. There was even a huge room with computers and joysticks which was right up my alley. Dad seemed happy to show me around and to teach me about what he did everyday. He never missed an opportunity to tell me how blessed he was and to talk about Jesus during all of this his talks that night.
The night wasn't so much about learning about the coal mines to me, but more about my dad and me. It was one of those moments in life to me that really mean something. That moment in time with my dad was special. I was watching my dad teach me lessons about work, life, and always teaching me about the love of Jesus and how no matter what kind of job we have or how good our lives seem to be, they are nothing without having Jesus first in them. I felt like I had to get this in writing and though I'll never forget it, it was burning to be written down.
You are the potter I am the clay Mold me and make me This is what I pray