Tag Archives: Bo John’s Train

How do you cope?

How do you cope with a bad situation? How do you cope when someone you love has a disease? What if that disease is a terminal disease? When my father was diagnosed with Cancer, I didn’t want to believe the diagnosis. Of course I went through the entire spectrum of emotions- despair, grief, disbelief, denial, hope…. I initially thought that it was a nightmare, and it was. The only problem is that I never woke up from that nightmare. I couldn’t believe that my father- the man who meant more to me than any other man-had Cancer. I couldn’t believe that we didn’t see it… Why didn’t we see the symptoms in time?

My father had a little accident at work one day. I believe it was a fall of some sort. Well he went to the hospital, and it was through their testing that it was discovered that he had Cancer. Had he not had that fall, who knows how long we would have been in the dark about his condition. It was after this discovery that he had to receive extensive treatments to battle this awful disease. Initially, I thought that everything would be okay. I figured that he would be cured, and then we’d go back to living our lives. I figured we had many more years left. I just knew that he would have the opportunity to see his grandsons grow up.

I was wrong. I watched as my father deteriorated. This big, tall, strong, healthy man now had to have chemotherapy sessions, and then his kidneys failed. How does one deal with that? Although the situation was dire, we still continued to smile and do our best to keep his spirits uplifted. That was really hard because all I wanted to do was cry. I felt like my world was coming to an end. I will never forget the day when he whispered to me “Dana, I’m dying.” Although it tore me up inside, I smiled and told him “No you’re not. You are going to be okay.” I remember leaving the hospital that day and driving back to Maryland where I was living at the time. I remember going back to work. I also remember getting to the end of the day- two days later, and my Principal telling me the news that my father had passed. Apparently my mom had called her earlier that morning and told her the news and asked her not to tell me until the end of the school day because she didn’t want me to be upset in front of my students.

I am thankful that she waited to tell me the news. I wouldn’t have been any good if I had known that morning right after it happened. Since then, I have accepted the fact that life is just not fair. Sometimes I still cannot understand why my father was taken from us so soon. I feel like I am missing out on so much. I know that my son and nephew are missing out on spending time with their grandfather and learning how to grow up and be a real man- a lesson I know he would have been the best man to teach.

During those long rides back and forth between Maryland and Florida to visit my father while he was sick, I had a lot of time to think. It was during this time that I knew I had to give some recognition to the most important man in my life. My father instilled such strong values in my sister and I, and he was such a wonderful person. I knew that I had to share him and his legacy with the world. “Bo John’s Train” is the beginning of my tribute to my father, Robert Lee Walton Jr. Sharing his life with others is what I do. Through “Bo John’s Train”, I am able to give others an insight to the man that he was. Seeing the response that others have when I talk about him or do presentations in schools makes me so proud. It took me a while to realize it, but this is the way that I cope.


Exploring LIfe’s Lessons With “Bo John’s Train”

Bo John's Train, Dana Walton, father, trains, grief, childrenIt has been said that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Although we may not understand someone’s purpose in our life at the time, when we allow ourselves to sit back and observe, many times, their purpose becomes clear. It is up to each individual to use the situation to their advantage and allow themselves to learn from the people that are in their lives.

People come into our lives, and they make an impression. That impression can either be good or bad. In the story “Bo John’s Train”, the main character “Bo John” makes a good impression on the people who lived in the town through which he drove his train. Although many of the townspeople may not know him personally, they know his face; and they know that he is the man who drives the freight train. Bo John makes an impression on those people simply by smiling and waving at them as he passes through town. At other times, he shows himself to be a fun person, someone who is full of life. He gives the townspeople a little ray of sunshine as he rides through town- on his freight train, or in his big, fancy car.

As a result of the affect that Bo John has had on the people of this small town, they really notice when he is absent from the scene. They had become so accustomed to seeing Bo John around town. When he was gone, the entire town felt the blow of his absence. In life, this is reality. When someone who creates an impact in our lives is no longer a part of our lives, that absence is felt. Regardless of the reason behind the disappearance of that person, their absence from our lives is apparent.

Upon Bo John’s return, the town is overjoyed! It is as if they had been waiting, watching, and wondering if he would ever reappear. When someone who touches our hearts walks back into our lives, it is as if a part of our hearts has been restored. We all have the ability to have that type of impact on others. There is no way to ever really know the effect that we have on those people who cross our paths. We never know the effect that our actions may have on another person. Many times, life is all about perception. For this reason, it is important to bear in mind the Golden Rule. When we do unto others, as we would want others to do unto us, our lives may have a different purpose than we originally planned. The things we do- and think nothing of- may mean the world to someone else.

Getting There is Half the Fun

When I was younger, maybe around Middle School age, I remember taking a family trip to Washington, D.C.  This wasn’t just any trip….  this trip was on Amtrak.  There was a huge group of us including aunts, cousins, my mom and sister, and my grandmother.  One of my cousins even invited her friend to come along.  My family was always big on exposing us to things such as travel, culture, etc.  This particular trip was no different.

It’s amazing, because we still talk about this trip.  Just a few weeks ago, as we were discussing our mode of transportation for this year’s family reunion, we started sharing memories from this D.C. trip.  I remember staying up all night, laughing and talking with my cousins.  I remember the tiny, and not always clean bathroom.  I can still picture the coach seats where we all sat as a group.  The huge picture windows in the rail car were perfect windows to the world as we zoomed through small towns on the way to our destination.  I also remember reaching above a passenger’s head for a Red Velvet cake that we brought along with us.  Unfortunately for the male passenger, my aim wasn’t too great, and he ended up covered in Red Velvet cake.  As any teenager would do, we giggled to no end about the man’s unfortunate plight, while apologizing profusely.

The beauty of the trip, however, was the time spent with family and friends.  I remember touring the White House and various other monuments.  I remember the bond that we shared as we rode that train together as a family.  These are memories that can never be forgotten.  Even if individually we are unable to remember the trip in its entirety, when each person adds a piece to the puzzle, we are all able to recount the wonderful memories of that vacation so long ago.

As we plan for upcoming summer vacations, the importance shouldn’t merely be placed on the final destination.  Many times, some of the most memorable events happen en route, as we trudge along on our way to our final destination.  Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?  When we merely focus on the final destination, and place all of our time and energy into what will happen when we arrive, we oftentimes miss the beauty of the journey itself.

Upcoming Projects

SharingBo John’s Train” with the world has truly been a dream come true.  When I initially published this book, I didn’t expect the response that I have received.  I always figured that regardless of whether others purchased the book or not, I had fulfilled a personal goal, and I was truly satisfied with that.  HOWEVER, as people read the book, I continue to receive positive feedback, and I feel truly blessed that others read this story, enjoy it, and are able to relate to it.

Bo John's Train, Dana Walton, Trains, Children, Fathers, DaughterBo John was my father, and it had always been my desire to share his stories with the world.  Growing up with him around was pretty cool indeed.  There was always laughter, for he was a practical joker.  He loved to tell stories, and to this day, we still share those stories and laugh.  In conversations, various family members will quote some of his one-liners, and we laugh because we all remember the exact time and place when that particular statement was made.

At the moment I am focusing on marketing this book and getting the word out about “Bo John” and his trainOn Valentine’s Day, I will be speaking at a Black History Luncheon in Sanford, Florida; and a few days later, I will be greeting some of my readers at a Book Signing- also in Sanford.  I am very excited because I am a native of Sanford, and I am so excited to have the opportunity to share my book with the community in which I was raised.  In addition, many of these people actually knew my father.  So, it will be cool to share memories with his classmates and friends.

I have many plans for “Bo John’s Train”.  This book can be used as an aid to help children who are suffering from grief, and I intend to explore that further by using my book to help counsel children who are in the grieving process.  I am also planning to participate in various Book Expos in the Atlanta, Georgia area and beyond.  I will also continue reading to classrooms and library patrons.  It is my desire to see “Bo John’s Train” on library shelves, and this will be my next endeavor.  I have several other projects up my sleeve, but I’m not quite ready to speak on those just yet.  I am so overwhelmed by the excitement and responsibility that comes along with being a published author.  I feel such a deep sense of commitment to sharing the story of “Bo John’s Train” as well as other adventures my father had.  Please stay tuned as I continue to share Bo John’s legacy and make him proud.Bo John's Train, Dana Walton, father, trains, grief, children

Helping Children Overcome Grief & How Bo John’s Train Can Help

Tragedy can strike any one of us.  Facing grief and dealing with heartache is difficult for anyone.  Even adults who believe that they must be strong and feel that they have to hold everything together for the sake of their families must surely find it hard also.  It has been my experience that the individuals who seem as though they are holding it all together may need the most support in times of loss.  When are the warriors of the family able to have a time to grieve? Taking the time to fully grieve can only help the healing process.  Each person must grieve in his/her own way, and also in his/her own time.  But ultimately, one must be able to grieve in order to accept the loss and move on to the next phase.  This is never an easy task.  When a loved one departs, it is impossible to just forget about that person and move on.  We all deal with grief in different ways.  The most important thing is to deal with it.

This also holds true for children.  As adults, we must remember that children and precious and sensitive.  They cannot understand death so easily.  During a time of loss, it is up to adults to ensure that children are given special attention and consideration.  We simply cannot expect for them to understand everything that is going on.  Nor can we expect them to just go outside and play while the adults take care of the arrangements.  It is our duty as their caretakers and loved ones to ensure that these children who are affected by grief are made to understand that death is a natural occurrence.  Although we are never really prepared when death visits our family, there are ways to help children understand or at least cope with the emotions that come flooding in.  Being present to answer any questions that children may have is important.  Simply sitting down with children and listening to how they feel will make a world of difference in the life of a child.  Using puppets can also provide success in helping to understand death.  In addition, helping these children cope through the use of literature can also serve as a bridge to understanding how life/death affect us all.

“Bo John’s Train” can help children cope with grief.  Everyone loves a great book!  “Bo John’s Train” is an excellent story that can be used to help children cope with the grieving process.  In the story, Bo John is a beloved character who disappears for a while and this has a tremendous impact on the townspeople whose lives he has touchedQuestions arise as to Bo John’s whereabouts, and this is an excellent opportunity to ask children what they think may have happened to Bo John.  Although Bo John reappears in the story, he eventually leaves again, and the reader is left questioning where exactly Bo John has disappeared to, and when will he return.

Giving children an opportunity to answer open ended questions about Bo John’s whereabouts, allows them to cope with the loss they may be feeling in their own lives.  Grieving is never easy, but it is a process that we all must go through at some point in our lives.  If we have an outlet to help us along in that process, then perhaps we will reach some form of acceptance sooner.  The same is true for children.  WE must provide an outlet that allows for expression.  Through role play, literature, and self-expression we can help children overcome their grief and learn to cope with personal loss.

Who EXACTLY was Bo John?

Bo John, the main character in “Bo John’s Train”, was a positive African American male role model.  There are men out there who are strong husbands and fathers.  There are men out there who set the standard for their little boys of what type of men they should be when they grow up.  These men also set the standard for their little girls as to the type of man she should marry.

Bo John was an outstanding example of exactly what any man should be- hardworking, honest, and kind-hearted.  He was a very proud man.  He had morals and values, and he insisted on instilling those morals and values in his children, nieces and nephews.  He was also a very jovial, happy go lucky man.  Always telling a joke or funny story, Bo John was always the center of attention as everyone within earshot was captivated by the unbelievable tales he would share.

Bo John's Train, Dana Walton, Army, United States Army, Bo JohnRobert Lee Walton Jr., affectionately known as “Bo John” by everyone he met, was a kind, warm hearted man.  He was given the nickname “Bo John” while in high school by his friends.  He was a triple threat athlete; playing basketball, baseball, and football.  He fell in love with my mother, Jacqueline, and they were married right out of high school.

After high school Bo John enlisted in the United States Army.  He was an Airborne Paratrooper in the 101 Airborne Division.  He jumped out of airplanes.  Bo John attained the rank of Staff Sergeant, spending time overseas in Korea. He spent seven and a half years in the Army.

During this time, he married my mom, his high school sweetheart.  This helped him make the decision to become a family man closer to home.  After the birth of his first daughter- me, he received an Honorable Discharge and returned home to be with my mother and me.

Bo John began his railroad career with CSX Transportation as a Train Man/Conductor.  He spent several years in this position before attending Engineer’s Training School Jacksonville, Florida.  Bo John loved his career as a railroad man.  He spent many nights away from his wife and children making an honorable living as a worker on the railroad.

After retiring from the railroad, Bo John was diagnosed with Cancer.  At the time of the diagnosis, the cancer was pretty widespread.  Although at times, there seemed to be little hope and he was in an extreme amount of pain, his spirits were always high, and he tried to comfort those around him.  Even as his daughter, I never really knew how serious it was until it was too late.  I have always wondered if he knew there was something wrong long before the diagnosis.  We will never know.

Bo John touched the lives of so many people…just by being himself.  He had a smile that could light up any room.  People still affectionately speak of him, and when they do, their memory is always accompanied by a smile.  I feel honored to have known Bo John personally, and even more honored to have been his daughter.

A Day in the Life of a Train Engineer

Do you love trains?  Trains are amazing machines and are loved by people all over the world.  These huge pieces of machinery are fascinatingHave you ever wondered what it would be like to drive a freight train?  These magnificent beasts are used to transport cargo or freight from one station to another.  Freight trains have the ability to efficiently move goods all over the country.

Bo John's Train, Dana Walton, Trains, Train engineer

Bo John

Have you ever wondered about the people that drive these trains?  These adventurous men and women who drive freight trains have a huge responsibility– not only to the companies whose freight they are hauling, but also to the people whose towns they pass though.  Much like the job of a truck driver, these people have a love for the “open road”.  There is an incredible opportunity for the peace and serenity that goes along with driving on the open road, or railroad, but there is also a huge responsibility that goes along with this profession.  The Engineer usually works alone and works long hours. 

The job of a Train Engineer is a very important one.  There are many factors that must be taken into consideration when deciding to pursue a career as a Train Engineer.  In order to be considered for a position as a Train Engineer, an individual must have at least two years of college and also attend an Engineer Training courseSafety is also an important part of this profession.  An Engineer must be concerned about the safety of his/her crew as well as the people who may be sitting at those railroad crossings waiting on the train to pass.

A Day in the life of an Engineer usually begins early in the morning.  The Engineer goes to the train station to prepare for the load.  He checks his paperwork, etc. and waits for the train to arrive so that he can switch places with the Engineer that is arriving at the station.  Once the train arrives, and the crew is switched out, it is time to move on to the next destination.  Attached to the engine are many cars containing all sorts of cargo.  Some trains carry fruit such as oranges, cars, coal, etc.  All of this cargo must be delivered to a company.

Bo John's Train, Dana Walton, TrainsThe train starts moving off slowly and then picks up speed as it roars toward its destination.  The Engineer has lots of gauges and controls to monitor to ensure that the train is moving along at a proper speed and that the engine is running smoothly.  The Engineer is also responsible to use his/her radio to stay in contact with the station.  Once the train arrives at its destination, it is time to unload the cargo.  The Engineer must drop the cargo at each company by causing those particular cars to “break away” from the rest.  This maneuver must be done at each company.  When all of the cargo has been delivered, the job is done and it is time to return to the station.  The Engineer may be gone for days at a time, depending on how long it takes to go to the destination, deliver the cargo, and return.