Tag Archives: cancer

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.

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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.

Bo John’s Train

Dana Walton, Bo John's TrainHello,

My name is Dana Walton, and I am the author of “Bo John’s Train”.  I am an Educator, currently living near Atlanta, Georgia. I have taught elementary school for over twelve years in the states of Florida, Georgia, and Maryland.  I have also taught in the United Arab Emirates in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.  I have one son, Ryan, and he is nine years old.  In my spare time, I enjoy reading, traveling, bowling, going to the movies, shopping, and clipping coupons.

I am so excited to have the opportunity to share this book with the world.  “Bo John’s Train” is about a train engineer and the way he has touched the people of a small townMy father, Robert Lee Walton Jr., was the inspiration for this book.  It seemed as if everyone in our town knew him.  His nickname was Bo John.  He was an engineer for CSX Transportation. He actually drove trains! I have some great memories of my father wearing his blue overalls, red and white handkerchief around his neck, and blue and white striped conductor’s hat.

bo john's train, bo john, trains, Dana Walton

Bo John (my dad and inspiration for my book)

I wrote this book as a tribute to my father.  He had such a positive impact on the lives he touched.  He had such a huge smile and he was always smiling.  He was a happy person and fun to be around. I remember the jokes he told and the many stories he shared about working on the railroad.  Our house was not too far from the railroad tracks, and he would always blow the train whistle as he passed our house.  When we were little, my mom would take my sister and I to see our dad as he passed by driving the train.  We would sit in the car and wait for the train to pass by.  My Dad would lean out the engine window and wave at us as the train roared by.  Sometimes he would tip his blue and white striped conductor’s hat as he rode on past the railroad crossing.  Although I miss him every day, I can still smile as I reminisce about my childhood and the love he had for his family, his car, and his freight train.

In December 2005, my father passed away after his battle with cancer.  This was a very difficult time for my family.  We still think about him all the time.  At family gatherings, people still talk about the jokes and funny stories he would share.  Bo John’s Train is my way of paying tribute to the man who is directly responsible for making me into the woman I am today.  He taught me how to be independent and how to love others.  He was a strong believer in education and I know that he would be proud of all of my accomplishments.  I also know that he would be proud to be the main character in “Bo John’s Train”.  Whenever I hear a train whistle, I think of him.  After reading this book, I hope you will too.