"Grandma, what's a gravy train?"
Glancing up from my crossword puzzle I found myself looking into the puzzled blue eyes of my young grandson. "What, dear? I'm sorry, but Grandma was busy thinking instead of listening."
Tony leaned closer, "I asked you, Grandma..." (Yes, little one, I know, I know - I heard you the first time; but my mind isn't as quick and alert as it used to be when I was young, and at this moment I'm completely clueless)...then I listened as he innocently repeated his question while searching my face for his answer to... "what's a gravy train?"
Giving Tony a big hug, I put down my crossword puzzle, dropped my pencil on the floor, picked it up, put it on the coffee table beside the puzzle book...doing anything and everything to give me "thinking time"; then took his little hand and led him to the kitchen and the cookie jar.
If Tony was only an adult instead of just four - I'd know what to say. "A gravy train is the opposite of hard work, like something handed to you, or the 'easy' life, or perhaps marrying money or living high on the hog, or..." Where do they come up with such crazy sayings anyway?
I was stymied.
What did I know about Gravy Trains? To me, gravy was something you put on potatoes or bisquits, and a train was an engine and a caboose with boo-coos of freight cars or passenger cars in between, and travels on railroad tracks! What potatoes and railroad tracks have to do with "The Easy Life" I had never learned - because all my life I had been been either pounding the pavement looking for a job or ON the job...Working, Working, Working...since I was sixteen.
Then time seemed to fly away...
Until one day, suddenly, right out of the blue, some old geezer shows up, taps me on the shoulder, and says, "I'm Father Time," and proceeds to strip the color from my hair and make it gray, etches deep wrinkles into my brow and face, places a pair of bifocals on my nose, and yanks out most of my teeth, and then sets me down in a rocking chair with a shawl draped around my shoulders and whispers in my good ear...
"Sorry, Your Ladyship, but you've used up just about all of your allotted time here on Earth; all of your Springs, Summers and Autumns have come and gone just like 'THAT' (snapping his fingers in my ear for emphasis) and now it's time to rest and enjoy the Winter of your days."
As my life passed swiftly through the corridors of my mind, I looked for a "pause" button to slow it down, to stop it, or to "rewind"...but suddenly my musings were interrupted by a childs voice, "Well, Grandma?", and looking down I saw my grandsons face, covered with cookie crumbs, still waiting for his answer.
"Oh yes, about the gravy train, right? When did you hear it, Sweetie, on TV maybe?"
"No, Grandma, Daddy told me 'Momma was gonna kill him when she finds the gravy stain on his brand new birfday tie.'"
Whew! Saved by a hearing aid!. I chuckled as I hugged Tony again, and handed him another cookie as I nonchalantly said, "Oh, that's an easy one, Sweetie, I can clear that up in a New York minute."
"What's a New York minute, Grandma?"
"Oops, I'm sorry, Tony, but it's almost time for your Daddy to pick you up, so why don't we go outside and make a snowman while it's still daylight, and surprise your Daddy, Okay?"
"The length of our days is seventy years - or eighty, if we have the strength, yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and...we fly away." (Ps. 90:10 NIV)
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